People like to wholesale blame social media for the ills in the world, but having a formal education in IT, I look at these platforms as the separate systems that they are. Recently, I’ve talked about twitter, and tumblr, and in the past facebook. Let’s look at Instagram today.
It’s an interesting platform because it’s the only platform that only allows you to link to things if you are a business with over 10,000 followers. I think there’s a lot you could say about instagram’s business model literally being “Commodity yourself to the point that you gain basic features that are known to create the best turn over.” But this article is about what happens if you buy an account with 10k+ followers already.
Curiosity is what lead me to googling “Can you buy instagram accounts?” on Tuesday and having an account by the stroke of midnight. I’ve never seen that for social media before, only for video games with some sort of item or currency that can shared. Instagram doesn’t have those, it has “Swipe Up” functionality. After a weekend of playing with the account that’s really the only gain.
My first question about Instgram’s algorithm was if having more follows meant more views, likes, or comments. If you have a tiny account, you’ll be happy to know that nope, it does not. My account with 300+ followers got 94 to 175 views, while the “huge account” got 20-38 views. This proves that the amount of followers doesn’t matter as much as followers you actually on Instagram, and possibly being followed by accounts that don’t follow thousands of people.
Discovery on the account was overall less as well. The first image is the bought account compared to the baseline on my personal account. Also note that I took over the account on Wednesday.
The next curious thing I learned is how fast Russian account farmers grow an account. The account I got had 6 posts all from June 30th each post had about 400-550 likes. When I first logged into the account the photos were still actively getting likes every few minutes for about another 30 minutes. So not only was this account farmed, but the farmers also have bots that liking other farmed account’s posts. Meaning those posts must have been entered into a database somewhere and removed once the account was sold. The longer I had the account the more insights into the analytics instagram started to show me.
This account did get more interactions. It’s possible it was because I posted more, six posts versus three posts. There was also two website clicks that my author account did not get. Which for a business could actually really matter if sustained.
Now let’s talk about getting that magic 10k followers number looks like when those bots build the accounts. While the first images were posted in June, +10215 were added from July 15 – Jul 22. (About +5645 from July 15-17).
The good news for people looking to keep these accounts above 10k, is that account of unfollowers is becoming less and less. I assume the accounts unfollowing are largely deleted by Instagram. However those “additions” from July 22 and on were not recorded anywhere else. They don’t show up in followers and there was no notifications for them. This suggests something funny and behind the scenes is still going on. Overall since buying the account lost a total of 153 followers from Wednesday to Sunday. Which includes two days I don’t have stats on. Another hopeful factor for those wanting to keep swipe up feature.
In summary, is buying accounts a good business practice?
Probably not. I personally love swipe up, I like making Instagram stories more when I can link places. Makes them feel like they have more value. I also realized in this process that I like having two Instagram accounts. One where I can be me with random photos, and one that dedicated to dedicated grid based themes.
There is still the risk of Instagram taking the account away, or forever losing followers. But this experiment was a brilliant reminder for how fake metrics can be. How 30k followers on Instagram can be worth as little as $140 dollars. (Same with twitter accounts) And how all our focus should be on our own creative sustainability more than following Instagram’s unspoken rules to gain a needlessly removed tool that Instagram turned into a status symbol.
If you ever thought about buying an account, wanted to learn more about Instagram itself, or just like analytics: