How to Get Real Instagram Followers in 2021

Not all Instagram followers are created equal.

If you’re buying followers and your goal is to increase brand awareness, reach, and possible conversion, you want to make sure that you buy active ones. We’ll give you the scoop on how to get real Instagram followers that will actually care about your content.

Anyone who’s ever tried to grow their Instagram following knows that it can be a tiring and lengthy process that requires a lot of patience. It’s no surprise that many people want to look for an easier way out, and thus decide to buy some followers.

If you’ve ever been one of those people, you know that the follower-buying process looks something like this: 

You search the web for a company that seems to offer what you’re looking for. You decide to buy the followers, and maybe even throw in some engagements– you know, likes or views. 

After spending potentially hundreds of dollars on what you think is going to be a good investment, you end up with a variety of outcomes: the followers that you paid for never come in, the followers did come in, but they were a bunch of bots or fake accounts, or you write to customer service to find out what’s going on and find no reply. 

At this point, you realize the mistake you’ve made and that your money has essentially been wasted. 

This is a common phenomenon that has happened to many good-willed people who really just want to expand their brand awareness and get their content reaching more people.  

Why did this happen? 

Well, long story short– you didn’t buy active Instagram followers. You paid for what turned out to be a lot of empty promises in the form of fake profiles and bot accounts. These accounts are not will never be real followers. 

Instagram followers

We know that this can be a devastating experience, especially for those who are on a tight budget looking for ways to get their content out there and use social media to help build a brand and drive business results. 

For this reason, we’ve created this comprehensive guide on how to get real Instagram followers to boost your exposure. We’ll cover: 

  • Why people buy followers 
  • What ghost followers are 
  • Why buying fake, ghost, and bot followers is harmful 
  • What automation can do to your account 
  • How to get real Instagram followers and where to buy them 
  • Final thoughts on real Instagram growth 

The best thing you can do for your Instagram growth is to use a service like Growthoid, which helps to grow your real, active followers without automation. But before we get into that, let’s get started with some common reasons people might seek to purchase followers. 

Why Do People Buy Followers? 

Since the beginning of Instagram, there’s been no shortage of companies willing to sell you followers. Why is that? Well, simply because there has been a demand due to the fact that businesses recognize the power of Instagram when it comes to marketing and expanding reach. 

As of 2020, Instagram has reported a billion or more active monthly users. This is a huge number of people that could become potential clients, sponsors, product partners, or followers. Not only that, 90% of all users of Instagram follow at least one business account. 

Truth be told, Instagram’s marketing potential has only grown in the past years, and is continuing in that direction. With features that include in-app shopping and easier ways to direct users to external web links, businesses and influencers really do need to have a solid Instagram presence in order to stay relevant in their respective markets. 

Buy Active Instagram Followers

So, why don’t people just grow followers manually? Well, it can be a long and complex process. 

Most manual Instagram growth comes from many hours logged on the platform posting content, integrating Instagram stories and live sessions, engaging with followers and exploring accounts engaging with them in hopes of a follow back. 

Anyone who’s ever dedicated their time to building a successful Instagram platform knows that there are many more moving parts– content creation, captioning, story shooting and design, hashtag strategy, analytics, and more. Many people simply don’t have the time to spend endless hours working on Instagram growth if they want to keep a balanced workflow without compromising content quality. 

So, what are some of the most common reasons that people buy followers for Instagram? 

  • New accounts: if a business, brand, or influencer is just starting out, buying followers is an attractive option to get their account off the ground. 
  • Business or brand expansion: when businesses and brands are looking to get their products and services out to more people, buying followers can be an attractive option for reaching more people. 
  • Influencers looking for partnerships: Instagram influencers need followers and engagements in order to boost their opportunities for brand partnerships and sponsors. Buying followers may serve that purpose. 
  • Reputation: the higher the number, the more reputable a brand can look (in theory; there are many other factors, but it can help). If a brand or business wants to boost their reputation, they may look to buy followers. 
  • Slowing sales: businesses or brands that see a dip in sales might want to buy followers in hopes that it will inject some sales into their business. 

These are just a few of the many reasons that people buy followers. It’s important that you first identify your goal before trying to grow your Instagram following, that way your strategy will be clear. In any case, what do all of these reasons have in common? 

These accounts would require real followers in order to reach the goal that they set out when buying followers in the first place. If the followers they purchase don’t care about their content and don’t engage, there is no hope for conversion, partnerships or sponsors. The purchase of followers would be simply a waste of money and time. It’s vital that you buy real Instagram followers, and not ones that just fill a hollow number count.

More often than not, people buy followers, and then they say, “I spent x amount of money on Instagram followers and they gave me nothing but low-quality ones.” 

“Low-quality followers,” what does that really mean? 

It typically means that these accounts appear to be fake, bots, or ghost followers. None of these are good things, nor will they help fulfill your reason for buying followers in the first place.

Let’s find out what fake, bot, and ghost followers are so we can understand how to spot them. 

Ghost Followers? Fake Followers? Bots? 

All three of these things are a nightmare in terms of buying followers, and it’s very common that if you purchase followers, this is what you’ll receive. 

When Instagram first started booming as a marketing gem, there weren’t many regulations in terms of third party apps and buying followers, so it was a super common practice among even popular accounts and celebrities. 

It was standard to see accounts filled with ghost followers, fake followers, and bots simply to reach the numbers. 

Over time, however, Instagram began to realize this was impacting the integrity of the platform, and they started to crack down on the sale of followers. 

Fake Followers

Now, having these types of followers can actually harm your credibility. So what are they? 

  • Ghost followers: these are followers that are probably old, inactive accounts that aren’t used anymore. These can be identified through signs like posts that are from an extremely long time ago, and/or have a low to no follower count. Since these accounts are no longer active, they sit on your account like ghosts– they show up as a number, but as far as engagement, good luck. You won’t see anything. 
  • Bot followers: These bot accounts are created usually to promote products or engage with other accounts. These accounts are usually full of spammy comments and can be recognized by the ghost follower signs, as well as a few others. You may see these accounts with no posts at all, or posts that are just a bunch of spam. They’ll usually have hardly any followers. These accounts are harmful to your account and are just robots– they’ll never have a genuine interest in your content or products/services. 
  • Fake followers: These accounts are similar to ghost followers, but were created with the sole purpose of boosting numbers of other accounts. It’s just as the name sounds– they’re fake, so they’re not going to provide you with any engagement or generate any interest in your brand. 

There’s a common theme along all 3 types of followers typically dispersed to your account when you buy followers– they don’t care about your content, they aren’t active, they don’t interact, and they won’t bring your account any new exposure or interest. They are placeholders. And really, in essence, they can all be categorized as “fake followers.” 

By now, buying followers is probably sounding pretty unattractive, and if they’re fake, ghost, or bot followers, then we can confirm. Don’t buy fake followers! All of this can be avoided by seeking to get real Instagram followers. Fake followers have many downsides, and we’re going to tell you exactly what those are now. 

The Consequences of Buying Fake Instagram Followers

Yes, we say consequences because buying fake Instagram followers truly has a negative impact on your account– a variety of them. 

As we mentioned earlier, the main reason that people buy fake followers is that they want to boost their popularity, they want to build their brand, they want to increase their reputation in the public eye. 

Influencers especially need to appear as though they are valuable to a large following and that people love them so that they can close sponsor or brand partnership deals.  

If we think about those two reasons– boosting reputation and credibility, and booking brand partnerships, fake followers has already hurt you. 

How so? Let’s take a look. 

People Can Now Recognize Fake Followers 

Yes, it’s true. The average Instagram user can now put two and two together and recognize when accounts are using bots or have fake followers. 

But how!? There are a variety of tell-tale signs that an account is taking advantage of fake followers: 

Username and Profile

 if a user clicks on your follower number, they can see the accounts that follow you. If they see a bunch of no-photo circles and weird usernames with letters and numbers, this is a big red flag. 

Fake Followers in Instagram

It is easy to identify fake accounts even without going to the profile, but once they do, they’ll be able to see that the follower is fake by using the signs we mentioned in the previous section. 

Follower to Engagement Ratio 

If your account has a high number of followers but few engagements (likes/comments), it’s very easy to figure out that your account is full of fake followers. 

Let’s say your account has 85k followers, most of which you purchased. How many likes are you averaging per photo? If you have an average engagement ratio of 5% of your total follower count, that would be 4250 likes. 

BUT! In reality, your photo has 150 likes. That’s not even 1% of your total follower count, which is a very low engagement rate. It’s absolutely clear that you have a bunch of fake followers on your account and your content is getting no reach and generating no interest. 

Brand Partners Will Ignore Influencers With Fake Followers 

So, let’s say you’re an influencer then, with a follower-to engagement ratio like the one we mentioned above. 

In the old day of Instagram, it could have been likely that a brand or sponsor would want to partner with you due to your high follower count. 

But since many people are now familiar with the process of buying followers and cushioning follower counts, brands and sponsors are looking at another metric– engagement.

Brands with lower follower count but higher engagement rates are more valuable to brands and sponsors, since the purpose of a partnership is to drive conversion and build exposure around the products and services. 

Even if your account has what you may consider to be a low follower count, let’s say 15k. If you’ve got an account with 15k followers, and you get roughly 1500 likes on your posts with a healthy comment section, shares, and even DMs, this is much more beneficial for brands and partners. 

Brand Partners

And if you think they’re not going to ask you for these metrics before partnering with you, you’d better study up, because they absolutely will. Knowing your metrics is key to being able to secure partnerships. 

Nowadays, an account like the first one we mentioned with 85k followers and less than 1% engagement isn’t going to get you any partnerships or sponsors at all. You didn’t buy real Instagram followers, and fake followers are not going to help you, they’ll definitely hurt you. 

The Instagram Algorithm Shuns Accounts With Fake Followers 

Once Instagram realized people were buying followers to try to feign popularity on the platform, they took action and made some changes in how posts become popular and how they are dispersed to users across the platform. 

Instagram determines which posts are shown to what users through algorithms. These algorithms now use exactly what brands and sponsors use to gage popularity– engagements. 

That means that the more engagement you get on your posts, the more likely it will be seen by more people due to the function of the Instagram algorithm. 

This can be a huge reason why fake followers can hurt you. Let’s say you didn’t buy that many fake followers, but you bought some, and you have roughly 150k followers. Maybe only 50k or less of those are fake. 

But that number is what your follower to engagement ratio will be based off of, and that’s already a third of your followers that aren’t going to be engaging with your content. 

The algorithm will see this, and consider that your post is not performing well based on the ratio, and will be shown to less of your actual followers. This means that not only are you getting no interaction from the fake followers, your real followers aren’t even getting the chance to see your posts. 

Instagram, essentially, has been able to indirectly punish users who buy fake followers through the use of this algorithm. 

Instagram Algorithm - Buy Real Instagram Followers

Another example is related to the hashtag feed. Let’s say that you are a restaurant and you commonly use the hashtag #foodieLA. When a user goes to that hashtag feed, they will see all of the posts that are tagged with that hashtag. 

But, the first thing they’ll see are the “top” posts. How is a post determined to be “top?” Those are going to be the posts that get consistently high engagement from followers and have a happy and healthy follower to engagement ratio. 

Your post may still be seen if the user decides to look at the “recent” tab and you happened to post recently. 

In the end, it’s clear how fake followers can hurt you. Even though they are there to boost your popularity, they will actually hurt your follower to engagement ratio and cause the algorithm and potential partners and sponsors to turn against you. 

Fake followers also skew your Instagram analytics, making it harder to determine which posts are actually performing well and what content your real followers are most interested in. 

You’ll end up having to remove all of these fake followers to set things straight and get back to normal, which can end up taking a lot of time in addition to the investment money that you lost buying the followers in the first place. 

Automation: The New Fake Followers 

Most people know that fake followers are bad, and now you know exactly why. What has been a popular alternative then to buying fake followers? 

After the hype around fake followers died down, the next best thing was Instagram automated growth. 

This is still the most common way that people try to grow their accounts, but the results are hit and miss, and the consequences can also be harmful to your account. 

Let’s take a quick look at what automation is and why it is not the best option for real Instagram followers. 

What is Automation? 

Automation is the practice of using bots or automated targeting to find user accounts on Instagram, engage with them, and hope they follow your account.

People think to themselves, “I don’t want fake followers. I’m going to get real Instagram followers, and automation is going to get me there!” 

Well, unfortunately, maybe not. 


Immediately after buying followers became risky, this became a huge trend, and Instagram quickly caught on, just as they did with fake followers. They have many strict regulations and penalties for inappropriately using bots and automation for Instagram growth, which is one of the reasons why the results from these services are usually lackluster.

Moreover, they usually produce the same type of followers that you’ll see from buying bulk followers. Automation will undoubtedly bring in fake followers too, and they’ll also often target accounts that are outside of your target audience.

This, just like buying fake followers, is a pretty useless tactic and won’t bring you the results you are looking for, nor will it satisfy your reasons for wanting to grow your Instagram followers. 

If you use automation, you can will see some of the same negative effects as buying fake followers, including: 

  • Fake followers on your account
  • Low engagement rates 
  • Bad performance against the Instagram algorithm
  • Flagged by Instagram due to too much account activity 
  • Possible deletion and suspension 
  • Loss of credibility due to inappropriate bot comments or engagements 

All in all, these are not the best ways to grow your following, so let’s take a look at some of the more productive things you can do to reach your Instagram growth goals. 

The Quickest Way to Get Real Followers on Instagram 

So, if buying fake followers or using bots isn’t the quickest way to grow your following on Instagram, what is? 

Well, the quickest way would be to buy real Instagram followers. This means that you’d be buying active accounts that are really interested in your content, therefore likely to engage with what you post. 

The best way to do this is through an organic Instagram growth service that grows your service slowly over time with real followers and active accounts. A service like Growthoid is definitely the way to go, and we’ll get into more detail on them later. 


This will help your account have a healthier follower to engagement ratio, will reach more people, and hopefully boost your business or partnership opportunities. 

The alternative is to grow your following by hand, but there are two main reasons that people find this extremely hard to commit to: 

  1. Time. Growing your Instagram following is extremely time-consuming. You have to know what your target audience is, review competitor accounts, find accounts that you want to follow your account, then engage with them. You’ve got to view and like content, view stories, participate in conversations, and get your username out there as much as possible. While it can provide fruitful results, it’s easy to spend a large number of hours weekly doing this, which as we mentioned earlier, takes away valuable time that you need to focus on the operations and content quality of your Instagram account. 
  2. Money. Another alternative would be to run ads, paid ads on Instagram or even on other websites, but this can add up pretty quickly. If we take a pretty simple example based on cost per click (CPC), the standard would be around $0.50 to $1.00, and can increase if you’re in a highly competitive market to even as much as $3.00. This can add up extremely quickly! Imagine if your CPC is $1.00, you’re basically paying one dollar per follower. At that rate, if you’re looking to gain thousands of followers, you’ll be matching it at the same dollar rate. It can become costly if that’s your only strategy.

Because of this, the most efficient way to grow your account and expand your brand interest is to buy real Instagram followers.

How to Buy Real Instagram Followers

Now that we know the risks of fake followers, automation, and the tedious work that goes into hand-growing your following, let’s find out the strategy for buying active followers that will contribute to your Instagram goals. 

It’s easy to see that companies are likely to promise real followers when in reality, they’re just funnelling a bunch of fake ones to your account. There are many scammers out there, so you’ve got to be wary when purchasing followers to make sure they’re real & active. 

These are some tips you can follow in order to avoid being tricked or swindled. 

Buy Targeted Followers 

The best way to ensure that you’re getting quality followers is to buy from a company that uses organic growth methods and targeting instructions to gain real followers that are in your industry and would actually be interested in your account. 

A trustworthy growth service, or company that sells real Instagram followers, will ask you to provide these targets upon signing up with them, and will then find you accounts that fall within those targeting ranges. Targets include things like age, gender, location, following accounts, hashtags, among others. Our favorite service for this is Growthoid because they use all of your targets just as you ask them to. 

Another good thing about this is that if a user were to look at the accounts that are following you, they’ll be accounts that are related to your content type and they won’t raise any concerns as being fake accounts. Instead, your credibility will be boosted because there will be accounts that are connected to your market that are following you. 

Don’t Fall for Cheap Pricing Schemes 

While buying real, active followers will usually be cheaper than running ads on Instagram, buying active followers will usually be more expensive than buying fake followers. 

It’s like the old saying goes– “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” 

You can find Instagram follower packages to purchase for as low as $3 or under. Let’s really think about this: if these were real, useful followers, why wouldn’t everyone be purchasing this?

Cheap Pricing

It’s definitely cheap enough, it says they’re providing real followers, so what’s the catch? 

The catch is that they’re not. You’ll have to spend a little more to make sure you’re getting the quality that you’re looking for. 

Work With a Transparent Service

What you really need from a growth service is transparency and clear communication. Nothing is worse than thinking you’re going to get one thing, actually getting another, and having no way to get answers. 

This whole idea of buying followers can be pretty sketchy due to the regulations that Instagram has imposed, so it’s really important that you talk to the service and do your research before committing. 

You want to know how they gain the followers, what’s their basic method, when can you expect results, and what are the main features that you’re getting from the service. 

If any of this information is hard to find or not available, it’s too good to be true, and it’s probably a sham. 

Also, if a growth service promises high numbers of followers, be suspicious. It’s hard to guarantee a specific number of followers when using targets to grow followers because it depends on the targeting instructions and the industry. If a service is promising results in thousands of followers, it’s an empty promise. There’s no way to know this information in advance, so be wary of services that promise numbers. 

Watch Your Engagement 

Remember, the main goal of growing Instagram followers is to increase interest and engagement with your brand and your content. If you’re buying real, active followers, you should also see an increase in your engagement alongside your follower growth. 


Buying real followers isn’t simply a number, it’s a strategy for long-term success via Instagram. Think of your growth service as an extension of your business and a strategy for your success. 

If you don’t see an increase in your engagement at all, contact your growth service or check the followers that you’ve seen added. You should look into the reason why your new followers aren’t engaging.

It’s not immediately to say that they’re fake followers– maybe you need to adjust your content or captions for better engagement. But you should still take a look just to be sure before you start altering your content. 

Where to Buy Real Instagram Followers?

While there are many shady companies that don’t deliver what they promise, there are still a few good ones left. Since we talked about the dangers of fake followers and automation, we’re not going to focus on any of those. Believe it or not, there is actually an amazing growth service that has been changing the game when it comes to buying real Instagram followers in your target window. 

The reason that Growthoid is our top pick for organic Instagram growth is simple– they do everything by hand. That’s right, Growthoid is basically like an extension of your own manual growth work, except you don’t have to do it yourself. 

Growthoid logo

And frankly, that’s the way it should be. The Instagram user experience is built around making connections and having interactions, engaging with content and finding new things that you love. With Growthoid, that experience isn’t compromised because there’s a real person in charge of growing your real, active followers, as it should be. 

How can they do it? 

From the minute you sign up, Growthoid will assign you an account manager. This account manager will basically be your guiding hand; you will provide your account manager with all of your targeting instructions and they will use those instructions to engage with accounts and grow your real, active followers, just like you would. 

Growthoid Instagram Growth

One of the best things about Growthoid is that their service is so simple– it really is that easy. None of those negative effects that come along with fake followers and automation will take a toll on your account, and you’ll still have enough time to focus on the other aspects of your account that can’t happen without you, such as content creation, posting, editing, captions, and hashtag strategy. 

They’re super transparent in their operations, and their team isn’t focused on just filling a certain follower number. They care about your success and your growth and want to get you the right followers. 

They have a great support service for any tech issues that arise and even offer a five-day trial.

Other services that use automation can promise you the same thing, but why wouldn’t you want to go with a service that actually uses humans to engage with other humans? It’s without a doubt a game changer and there isn’t a better growth service out there if you’re looking to gain real followers. 

Organic techniques will always bring you better results. 

Let’s just recap what can happen if you sign up with a service that offers fake followers or automation services for Instagram growth. 

Fake Instagram growth

Your Credibility Can Take a Hit 

It’s a huge problem that frequently occurs with automation. Fake followers also hurt your credibility, especially when you have a low follower to engagement ratio, but sometimes automation can be even worse. 

Let’s say that you hire an automation service to grow your real followers organically. One of the services they provide is leaving comments on other accounts in order to get their attention, have them view your profile, and hopefully give you a follow. 

First of all, people can easily spot bot comments these days. There are even Instagram accounts like @botpolice that are created with the sole purpose of reporting and bashing bot accounts! So, there’s that. 

Secondly, when using an automated comment feature, you have to create a pre-generated comment that will be left on any and every post the bot decides to leave it on. Let’s say you create a comment that seems to be pretty neutral, like “That’s great, I love seeing things like that!” 

Okay, seems pretty harmless. Let’s say that this gets posted on a piece of content that is about a family member passing away, or a personal struggle. This is seriously out of context, out of tone, and frankly embarrassing. 

While most people will be able to tell that it was left by a bot, it’s still really bad for your brand image. People will see it, shake their head, and be likely to never check out your profile. Not only the account of which the comment was left, but all of their followers who see it as well! 

If you buy real Instagram followers through a service like Growthoid that offers manual growth, this issue will be completely avoided and you won’t have to worry about your credibility taking a hit. 

You Can Lose Loyal Followers 

Wait, lose followers? How could that be? 

Loyal followers come in all forms– maybe they’ve been with you since the beginning, maybe they’re a new addition but love what you have to offer. In any case, they’re always there liking your posts and leaving you comments here and there. 

So what happens when your account is flooded with fake followers, or auto-generated bot comments start to appear on other profiles with your username, or even as replies on your own photos? 

These users are going to notice. If your account starts to get really bogged down with a bunch of automation and fake followers, they’ll be a lot more likely to change their mind about following you. It’s really annoying to continually see spam popping up and a bunch of fake followers on an account that you once loved. 

Don’t do that to your loyal followers. Keep working hard on your content and let an organic service like Growthoid deal with growing your followers. 

Wrap-Up: Get Real Instagram Followers 

It’s clear to see that fake followers do absolutely nothing for your Instagram account and that they’re ultimately an investment that you’ll only see a loss on. 

Growing real Instagram followers yourself is extremely costly both in time and potentially in ad campaign money, so for some people, it may simply not be feasible. 

Keep your goals in mind– why do you want a larger Instagram following? What followers do you want following your account? Create those targets and look for an organic growth service that can provide you with real organic followers, like Growthoid. Don’t buy into the cheap follower packages and the shady growth service promises. 

When you have someone helping you with your organic Instagram growth and you buy real Instagram followers, you can focus your time on important elements of your Instagram, like content creation and engagement techniques. Make sure you buy legit followers so that you don’t get banned.

Remember, growing your follower count is only one piece of the puzzle. The more you enhance your Instagram content and build a brand image for yourself, the better your growth service will work, and the more real followers you will gain over time naturally. 

This is a Contributor Post. Opinions expressed here are opinions of the Contributor. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and cannot investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the Contributor to disclose. Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles may be professional fee-based.

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