I didn’t want to write this article, but I think it’s time we talk about the troubling state of most Instagram growth services.
Listen, social media growth is an absolute necessity if you want to spread your message in 2021. We need real followers and authentic user engagement if we’re going to tell our story, promote our message, or sell our products. That being said, it’s no wonder that businesses and individuals are seeking out the help of Instagram growth services so their Instagram account can thrive.
There’s an issue, though. That issue: Most of these Instagram growth services are doing more harm than good.
I don’t particularly enjoy speaking ill of my competitors. I am 100% in favor of competition, and I advocate for the free market and consumer choice. As a former D1 NCAA dual-sport athlete, I thrive off competition. I love to compete. Bring it on. However, if my competition is flagrantly cheating and manipulating potentially millions of people, I’m going to feel the need to speak up.
I’ve been a professional Instagram marketer since 2015, and the current state of the Instagram marketing industry is as shady & manipulative as it’s ever been. It’s a real problem, and somebody needs to start addressing it.
I think there are three massive issues that 99% of Instagram growth companies are guilty of, making this industry incredibly shady. Those three issues are:
- Overnight Get-Rich-Quick Companies
- The Misuse of the Words “Organic Growth”
- Disastrous Alternative Growth Methods
That being said, let’s get started.
Issue #1: Overnight Get-Rich-Quick Companies
Nobody is held accountable in this industry. You can create a company, scam people, make money, and then delete the company.
Let’s take Social Meep as an example of an Overnight Get-Rich-Quick Instagram growth service. Many companies do the exact same thing that Social Meep is doing, but Social Meep is easily one of the most egregious examples of a get-rich-quick company. Here’s a short list of what they’re doing:
- Completely Ripping Off Other Companies
- Fake Testimonials, Fake Followers, and Fake Reviews
There are many more things ethically wrong with this company, but I’ll spend time highlighting these two things. Please note: Although I’m mentioning this company in particular, there are plenty of other companies out there that do very, very similar things. I can’t stress this enough: It’s not just Social Meep.
Completely Ripping Off Other Companies
Look, I have no issue with people using pre-built templates from places like ThemeForest. I also don’t have any problems with people taking inspiration from other designs; however, that’s not what’s happening here. Social Meep has completely stolen HypeAuditor‘s design. Hype Auditor is a legit company with a huge marketing budget. If you rip off their entire design and change some text & links here and there, you’re not only stealing their intellectual property, but you’re also giving off the impression that you’re a reputable, high-budget company. People are getting scammed & losing money because they believe Social Meep is a legitimate company. This is a problem.
Social Meep has poured thousands of dollars into their Google Ads budget. If you google almost any keyword related to Instagram growth, you’re going to see Social Meep advertisement pop up in the sponsored links. Every day, they’re manipulating potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
Not only is the design completely ripped off, but a massive amount of the links on Social Meep’s homepage do not lead anywhere. The links are only there for aesthetics. They’re there to fool you. They make people believe that this company is much larger and more reputable than it is.
As I’m writing this, most of the links in main menu don’t lead anywhere.
Most of the links in the footer don’t lead anywhere.
Want to learn more about the company? Sorry, that link doesn’t exist.
Want to check out their cool & unique Instagram tools they claim to offer? Sorry, better luck next time.
Want to buy a growth plan? You’re in luck! That’s one of the links that work. How convenient!
The entire website was constructed to manipulate people who are genuinely looking for Instagram growth by giving the impression that you are visiting a legitimate, popular growth service. I wouldn’t trust this company with any of my information.
Fake Testimonials, Fake Online Reviews, Fake Followers
It should come as no surprise that all the testimonials on the site are entirely fabricated. If they’re going to steal a design and create a fake company, don’t expect them to do anything else correctly.
- Sorry, but Gary Vaynerchuk didn’t say that this company is “is the best Instagram growth service”.
- Sorry, but Grant Cardone didn’t gain 100k followers in the past 6 months because of Social Meep.
- Sorry, but the Wall Street Journal didn’t give Social Meep a glowing recommendation.
- Sorry, but Trustpilot does not have SocialMeep at 4.85/5 stars. Over 50% of their reviews are 1-star, and the other 50% are obviously fabricated 5-star reviews.
- The list goes on and on… you get the picture.
It should also go without saying that it seems (based off the real customer reviews that I could find) that Social Meep delivers fake followers. Here’s one of the many real reviews pointing this out.
I could go on and on about my issues with this company. Still, I’ll cut this short for now. Hopefully, I’ve painted a clear picture on these overnight get-rich-quick Instagram growth service companies. Social Meep isn’t the only offender. Many companies are doing the same thing they are doing, and there needs to be something that holds these companies accountable.
Issue #2: The Misuse of the Words “Organic Growth”
Certain buzzwords need to be put to rest. Not every growth method on Instagram is considered “organic”.
According to Instagram’s own policies, you can’t use any third-party apps to grow your Instagram account. Many of these Instagram growth service companies will still claim they will “organically grow your Instagram account.” Still, it’s pretty clear in their marketing language that they will use automation, tools, AI, or bots to help you grow.
Full disclosure: I used to be an advocate for botting on Instagram. Back in the day (2014-2017), Instagram didn’t necessarily care if you were automating, and there weren’t any severe repercussions if you did. However, I changed my attitude when Instagram made it clear that automation was going to be punished. I do not advocate using any kind of automation on Instagram in 2021.
There are still people out there who automate on Instagram. The question is: How long? How long before Instagram shuts them down? Would you trust your account with one of these companies claiming that they use automation to grow your account?
Recently, another growth service reached out to us. They wanted to work with Ascend Viral by providing “manual growth” to our customers and clients. They then showed me a video of their operation.
That doesn’t look manual to me. That doesn’t look authentic or organic.
The technology here is brilliant, don’t get me wrong. The entire operation is incredibly impressive, but you’re going to tell me that Instagram & Facebook won’t be able to figure this out? You’re telling me that one of the largest tech companies in the world is going to allow something like this for very long?
Edit: As I’m editing this article, I’m already seeing reviews of users who use the company shown in the video having their accounts disabled by Instagram for automation.
Keep in mind: I have not seen any legitimate, verifiable, “organic” growth services that cost less than $100 a month. If you know any service claiming to get you real followers for less than $100 a month, I can almost guarantee you that they’re using automation or fake followers.
Now here’s where I’ll do my shameless plug: You can get real, authentic, manual Instagram growth for only $197 a month from Ascend Viral. We provide you with a Personal Growth Assistant that grows your account entirely manually. This is real organic growth. We’re completely compliant with Instagram’s terms of service, and we’ll help you gain real, engaging followers on Instagram today. Click here to learn more!
The automation era of Instagram marketing needs to come to an end. Authentic, manual engagement and interactions need to be at the forefront of this industry. This entire industry is based around one company: Instagram. If Instagram says “no botting,” let’s assume they mean “no botting.”
The entire Instagram growth service industry needed a massive reformation several years ago, and it never happened. Instagram has dramatically changed its algorithm since 2018, but most of these Instagram growth companies are still living in the past. This is hurting consumers.
From my personal experience, accounts that are grown with automation experience many issues compared to authentic manual growth, including:
- Growth is typically worse with automation when it’s compared to manual growth. With someone manually growing your account, they can typically target new potential followers better than software can.
- Accounts are more likely to get restricted, action blocked, or banned when growing via automation.
- Accounts are more likely to get shadow-banned by Instagram. This will limit your account’s visibility in hashtags and in the explore tab. Shadow-bans in 2021 are real, and I’ll write a future article on this soon.
I also think there may be long-term adverse effects from using automation & bots that we simply aren’t aware of yet. The moral of the story: If you see a company say “organic growth,” it’s probably not unless they explicitly state they aren’t using bots or automation of any kind. Growth enhanced by bots, automation, “tools,” or AI can’t be “organic” since it goes against Instagram’s Terms of Service.
Issue #3: Disastrous Alternative Growth Methods
Just because the followers are “real”, that doesn’t mean they’re worth anything.
I wrote a 200+ page Instagram Marketing Domination eBook back in 2016 (and it’s been frequently updated since then), and that eBook continues to sell thousands of copies. I bring this to you because: My tune on “alternative growth methods” has not changed since 2016.
Basically, if an Instagram growth service isn’t offering interaction based growth (follow/unfollow growth), then they probably offer some type of alternative Instagram growth method. Now what do I mean by “alternative growth methods”? I’m talking primarily about “Giveaways” growth and “Shout-Outs” growth.
Yes, there are other alternative growth methods (mother/child, mass DMs, mentions, mass story views, etc). Still, those methods are usually explicitly blackhat in nature, so I won’t discuss them as a sustainable growth solution. Anything that is “blackhat” isn’t sustainable, and I never recommend it to my clients.
I’m addressing “giveaway growth” and “shout-out growth” because those methods aren’t necessarily considered blackhat.
I talk about this further in my video discussing the current state of Instagram growth, but you can skip over this video if you don’t want to watch me (and my giant head) talk for 5 and a half minutes straight.
Instagram Giveaways Are Horrible
Followers you gain by signing up with an Instagram giveaway service are some of the most useless followers you will ever gain. Giveaway followers are instructed to follow you whenever the growth service hosts a giveaway. Oftentimes, they host these giveaways on large celebrity accounts.
How it works:
Let’s say Cardi B hosts a giveaway on her Instagram account. She says in her Instagram post caption:
“I’m giving away $5,000 to 10 lucky fans. In order to be eligible, you must like this post, comment below, and follow all the accounts tagged below.
When you purchase growth through a giveaway service, you purchase access to be on the list of accounts that Cardi B mentions in her post. You will then get a flood of new followers.
Here are all the reasons why you shouldn’t do this:
- Many of your new followers will simply unfollow you after the giveaway is over.
- Your new followers typically won’t be interested in your content. Giveaways usually aren’t niche-specific, so you’ll get plenty of people who won’t be interested in your content. They are highly unlikely to ever engage with your account.
- Your engagement can be semi-permanently damaged. If Instagram sees an influx of new followers that don’t engage with your account, then the algorithm can punish you for this.
- It’s expensive. Typically this kind of growth will range anywhere from $400 to $800 a month. If you’re okay with getting followers that will never engage with your account, then you might as well save that money and buy fake followers instead.
In conclusion, I would avoid any company that offers this kind of growth. This is an expensive growth option that provides little to no sustainable results.
Shout-Outs Are Usually Disastrous
I think shout-outs are pretty self-explanatory. If you watched the video above, you could tell that I’m somewhat neutral on shout-outs. I’ve spoken personally to hundreds of people over the years who have purchased shout-outs (and I’ve purchased them myself), and I’d say about 80-90% of the time it doesn’t turn out very well. They’re expensive. They’re unpredictable, and good shout-out accounts or providers are hard to find.
If you can find a highly engaging account in your niche that is willing to shout-out your account for a reasonable price, then perhaps give it a shot, but don’t be shocked if it doesn’t work at all.
It saddens me to see the current state of the Instagram growth service industry. I wish Ascend Viral could have some more honest competition. Other smaller companies offer manual Instagram growth, but the top 10 providers (from what I can tell) are all engaging in unethical growth techniques. I’d love to see the market shift to more authentic growth that’s truly organic. I think that would be the best for the consumer.
If you’re looking to gain real Instagram followers this year, then I’d recommend focusing on creating viral, engaging content for your audience. If you’re struggling with that (or just want an extra boost), then I’d recommend using a service like ours to get you the growth you deserve.