Building a loyal Instagram follower base from scratch takes a lot of hard work, time, and patience, which is why many businesses decide to take a shortcut and simply buy Instagram accounts. However, before you do that, make sure you’re aware of all the risks and potential pitfalls that may come from that.
Instagram is one of the best social media channels for advertising and building your brand. Around 60% of Instagram users learn about a product or service on this social network. This is an astounding number considering the fact that half a billion people log in on a daily basis, and this number keeps growing.
While Instagram has the highest engagement rates, the new algorithm makes a new business’ breakthrough a bit tricky. It focuses on posts and users with a good track of engagement. This pushes to the curb those who still haven’t built their follower network and results in 70% of Instagram posts failing to get noticed.
If you feel the only way to overcome these obstacles is buying Instagram accounts, let’s clear two things first. Buying Instagram accounts goes against Instagram’s terms of service. Second, buying an Instagram account is not the same thing as buying Instagram followers. Let’s explain.
1. Buy Instagram accounts at your own risk
Buying Instagram accounts goes against the social network’s terms of service. On Instagram, you are not allowed to “buy, sell, or transfer any aspect of your account (including your username) or solicit, collect, or use login credentials or badges of other users.
If you buy Instagram accounts, you buy them with awareness that Instagram can shut them down at any point if their team finds out or finds something fishy about this account.
Since this process takes place “under the table,” there is no official guarantee that acquiring someone else’s account won’t turn out to be a scam that will cost you more money and nerves than acquiring followers organically.
2. Buying followers ≠ buying accounts
Let’s cut this conversation short – don’t buy followers. Chances are they are not real and even if they are, people can tell a difference between paid and genuine engagement. In the long run, bots can make you look stupid and seriously harm your brand’s reputation.
You’ll probably find websites that sell followers for ridiculously low amounts of money. These followers are unlikely to engage with your posts, and even if they do, their comments will be pointless generic comments filled with emojis.
If you are still not convinced, Andrew Tate from AdEspresso conducted a case study on Instagram. He spent one month attracting followers the old-fashioned way. The next month, he switched to a fully bot-run method. Here are the results.
The pitfalls connected to buying Instagram followers are similar to those that may await you if you decide to buy Instagram accounts. But if you are still positive that you want to proceed with this plan – take care of a few things.
If you buy Instagram accounts directly from a seller
1. Run a background check
This means that you should make sure the person you are talking to exists and owns the account. Second, you want to make sure that their followers are not bots. Go through their posts and look at the comments, and noticing fake accounts should not be too difficult. If you want to be 100% positive, here is a great free tool that enables you to run a quick check on the account.
2. Run a niche check
It should go without saying, but you should double-check whether this account suits your needs. There is not much point in buying a fashionista’s account with 50K followers if you are trying to sell home improvement tools.
Since you’re already preparing to cash out for followers, don’t get scammed just because you were trying to save 30 bucks for background checks. This tool will give you an access to over 30 key metrics for any publicly available Instagram user. These metrics include most used hashtags and words/phrases, post frequency, average engagement, etc.
3. Agree on terms in detail
When you verify that the account, its owner, and followers are legit, create a sales contract. While I am not in a position to give any legal advice, there are plenty of legal experts and websites that can advise you on drafting a sales contract. In general, this contract needs to include:
- Identity of the Parties
- Date of Agreement
- Description of Goods and/or Services
- Miscellaneous Provisions
You can find more details about sales contracts here.
4. Use a trusted payment service
First, make sure that the account belongs to the person you’re talking to. Any attempt to persuade you to send money through a third party, a friend or family should immediately raise a red flag.
Paypal is a good option, since this platform enables disputes, claims, chargebacks, and bank reversals, providing you with an added level of security.
5. Separate the payment into milestones
You can never be too careful, so it’s recommended to be in direct contact with the seller as the purchase takes place.
Seller will provide you with username and password. After you log in, you are supposed to change the email and password of the account, unlink it from the seller’s Facebook account and link it to yours. Only then you have the control over the sold Instagram account.
The seller will also ask for some assurance, because scams can run both ways, so it’s best to split the payment into two or three phases during this process. Keep in mind that, should anything go wrong, you can’t go and complain to Instagram, since that will end in termination of your and seller’s account. Also keep in mind that this account could end up deleted by Instagram at any point.
If you buy Instagram accounts from a middle-man service
While middle-man services promise to protect you from scams and fake followers, many of these services are equally scammy and shady. There are hundreds of forums with accounts listed for sale, including the famous e-bay, with prices ranging from $50 to thousands of dollars. Do yourself a favor and skip those. While some offers may be legit, both forums and e-bay are a scam minefield.
I went through some marketers’ forums and review websites to see how several well-known services that sell Instagram accounts fare among users. These are the results. And keep in mind that even there – you’re purchasing at your own risk.
Currently, ViralInstas offers only up to 15K followers accounts in model/fashion/animal niche, while larger accounts are out of stock. This could imply that the website doesn’t stash fake accounts, and depends on the level of current offer among the account sellers.
One Instagram account will cost you $225, and according to their FAQ, you are provided with login info instantly upon purchase. The Instagram account’s username is visible on their website so you can run background checks on the account.
“I’ve bought multiple accounts for various clients from them since they offer instant passwords delivery which was a huge plus compared to when I used to purchase accounts via eBay and my clients would have to wait on the seller to provide the passwords,” wrote one Quora user.
“All the accounts came with a manual on how to maintain and grow the page with info I myself found useful and aside from that they also came with a hashtag research tool tailored to each account which had about 500 or so hashtags related to each page and gave the probability that the account’s content would have of doing well for each of the hashtags so it basically gave my clients the best hashtags to use for their posts.”
2. Viral Accounts
Viral Accounts connect buyers and sellers – you can find Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and other social media accounts here. They are an established company that boasts several big clients and is pretty straightforward about its company structure and whereabouts.
Viral Account does not only sell social media accounts – it also enables you to hire influencers, buy websites, domains, etc.
The price of one Instagram account on this website varies from $50-20,000 USD, depending on followers’ location, their activity, and the account’s niche. The site runs on “we flip them as we get them” regime, so much like Viral Instas, certain accounts may be “out of stock.” If you are interested in buying, you have to register and contact the Viral Accounts team.
This means that as a buyer, you may be put on a waitlist. Viral Accounts prioritizes the current pool of buyers and enables exclusively long-term clients with the option to request a property within their niche.
3. Social Tradia
On Social Tradia, you have a little bit more flexibility, as you can browse the available accounts by category. This, however, leaves it up to you to vet some of the accounts – if the link is available.
For example, it is pretty obvious that this 3.8K yoga account is filled with stock photos with little meaningful engagement.
On the other hand, there are accounts marked as “authentic” by Social Tradia’s team. You’ll have to take their word for it, because they won’t provide you with a direct link for vetting.
Social Tradia ads one layer of assurance to the buyers, who can get a refund if they appeal within 24 hours of purchase.
Ultimately, keep in mind that each purchase of this type is a risk. Even the most genuine and successful Instagram account won’t bring you results if you don’t have a solid marketing strategy on your mind.
Here you can find some amazing, up to date advice on how to get found on Instagram search, or how to get more followers. As you may conclude, the work you will have to put into nurturing these account is the same type of work you’d put into legitimate growth from scratch – so why not give it a shot?