To buy engagement or not to buy engagement, that is the question! We have all been there before, putting a ton of energy into our content creation just to see measly growth. Instagram at times can be depressing, and it’s times like these when we are often tempted to buy engagement.

The rationale for buying engagement held by most people is one of two:

  • Buying likes and followers creates a more powerful social presence which is attractive to potential customer as well as brands.
  • Buying fake likes could push the algorithm in your favour and help boost your post.

Both these arguments are ultimately wrong, and I will explain why.

Why buying likes and followers doesn’t fool anyone

Instagram has been around for a while now, and everybody is aware of the many scams that transpire on the platform. Fake engagement being one of the most obvious crimes. Keep in mind that before any respectable business decides to work with an Instagram account they will always do their research.

Most businesses have access to powerful tools such as Iconosquare, and the average user can check account statistics via SocialBlade. A quick look at your engagement rates, daily follower gains and account history will sell you out as a fraud.

Even without these tools, it is still very easy to notice fake engagement. There is nothing natural about 1,000 likes coming in at the same time or gaining 5,000 followers without a profile picture.

Why buying likes doesn’t boost the Instagram algorithm in your favour

If you can’t trick the average person, what chance do you have of tricking the algorithm? Buying fake likes and comments for your post will never boost it. This method might have worked back in late 2010 when Instagram was launched, but will not work now with the newer, more sophisticated algorithm.

The algorithm can detect exactly where your likes and comments are coming from. If the ratio of likes coming from your followers versus likes coming from other accounts is skewed, the post can be easily identified as having fake engagement. If all your likes are coming from thousands of accounts simultaneously, and then not gaining more likes afterwards, the post will appear fraudulent.

The algorithm understands the difference between human behaviour and automated software. Instagram can now track your post shares and saves. Keep in mind that most of this information is available to Instagram users; the algorithm then clearly holds more sophisticated tracking capabilities.

For instance, in your Instagram insights you are able to tell how many followers you gained from each post, as well as how many accounts clicked on your bio link from each post. This information alone should highlight how advanced the algorithm is becoming.

If you want to learn about how the Instagram algorithm works, check out this post here.

Do power likes work?

How about the notorious power likes? Do they work, or are they also a scam? Power likes have been the talk of the town on Instagram for a while now. A power like is basically a like from a big authority account, usually accounts with a minimum of 100k followers.

Whenever one of these big authority accounts likes a picture, that picture then has the chance of being shown to a percentage of the account’s audience. The theory is that if you can get a lot of these big accounts to power like your post at the same time, your post will then be boosted and go viral.

The idea works in theory; however, most power like providers are scammers. These providers send likes to your Instagram page from a bunch of dead ‘authority’ accounts. These fake accounts only look impressive based off their follower count, but have terrible engagement and will not do you any favours when it comes to ranking your post. To make things worse, these providers will often send you fake followers in an attempt to trick you into thinking that their services work!

Many of the power like services won’t work for you because the accounts giving the likes are doing too many actions. Remember that each time an authority account likes your post, your post has a chance of being seen by a fraction of that account’s audience. The chance of that post being shown to the audience decreases as the account gives more likes.

A power like coming from an account that likes 50 posts per day is far more powerful than a power like coming from an account that likes 800 posts per day. The sad reality is that most of these power like networks are doing those kinds of numbers.

The final verdict

The Instagram algorithm goes through a perpetual cycle of iterations. Each iteration increases its ability to discern fake engagement from real engagement. Do not make yourself vulnerable by building your empire on quicksand. Provide real value and you won’t have to worry about any sudden collapses in the future.

Isaac Tinashe

Hi, I am Tinashe and I started delving into entrepreneurship in 2015. It started with YouTube, and I was drawn to having my own business even more as time passed. I am now the proud owner of digital marketing agency The Insta Hustle. My team and I work with clients ranging from dentists to real estate moguls and public figures. The world is changing and if you don't keep up you'll be left behind. Let me show you what is possible with digital marketing.