How many times in a week do you encounter ads that promise you ‘real’ followers for as low as $5?

As a business, getting online traction can be difficultespecially when most social media websites today are pushing for paid advertising. Often times, brands give in to the temptation of these unbelievable deals to reach more customers and increase engagement on their account. While this may seem like a good idea, there are valid reasons for why you should not spend your money on buying Instagram followers.

Let’s take a look at some of them:

Fake followers do nothing for long-term engagement

Most of the followers you buy from unreliable third-party providers aren’t real people and happen to be bot accounts. The best engagement you will manage to get from them is an automated great picture” comment. As a brand, you have little to no use for followers who are never going to actually engage with the content you post. If nothing, you at least want your followers to see the posts your male, right? Here’s an obvious revelation: Bot accounts or fake followers never see what you post—ever.

So, how do you spot fake followers? It’s rather simple. These accounts usually include a blank profile picture, few or no images shared, and a general absence of creative interaction.

Fake followers are often spammers

While most of the followers you buy are entirely fake, there are some that were created for spamming. When you purchase followers, you are opening up your brand’s account to a slew of spam posts. Not to mention, if you shared your email address with the third-party provider while making the transaction, you have just handed these people another opportunity to spam you for the rest of your life—and the spamming doesn’t stop at you either.

With fake followers, you’re risking your genuine followers who did not sign up to be messages about a snake oil scheme over and over again. Once your genuine followers realize that the spammers decided to target them because of you, they will promptly unfollow you. So, not only are you being spammed by bot accounts, but you’ve also any real followers you managed to attract.

You might get banned from social media platforms

All the popular social media networks—Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter actively discourage anyone from buying followers in large numbers. These platforms also regularly purge fake followers, which means you can lose hundreds and thousands of followers (that you paid money for) overnight. Most importantly, they reserve the right to ban your account once they get a whiff of you being involved in external follower buying practices. This will reflect poorly on the credibility of your account. Customers will be less likely to engage with you if you’re caught using dodgy ways to get popular.

Most platforms will issue you a warning when you’re caught the first time, however, there might not be a second time for you.

Fake followers don’t contribute to your bottom line

As a business, you’re obviously using these social media platforms to increase traffic and conversions. Since we already established that fake followers are not real people, they will never go to your website and make a purchase—which completely defeats your purpose of creating engaging content to attract paying customers. Therefore, it’s rather pointless to try and boost your follower count, when you’re not going to benefit from these numbers in the long-run.

Hootsuite actually carried out a social experiment to prove a similar point by setting up an Instagram account that was aptly called @fruitless.strategy. They purchased followers for their account and made a few posts to see the results. As expected, they got no engagement for months and discovered the the followers they bought were “a bizarre mix of teenagers posting shirtless selfies, accounts with no posts at all, and more than a few bots peddling webcam porn.”