How to "Win" at Instagram (What Not To Do)

So, if you're in the art and entertainment industry, if you're a teen, or you're a food addict...you've probably used Instagram....a lot...It's a fantastic platform for sharing your work, connecting with people, getting work, and just having fun with the masses on a global scale. Now, under Facebook's control, we've all seen a decline in reach and connectivity, (since even they have a pay-to-win business model), but it really is still the platform of choice for creatives out there regardless of the algorithm ups and downs. And because of these shifts in reach, "Feature accounts" have really begun to take over the whole platform...making things...well...in my opinion, just plain terrible!

Many of these accounts have HUGE followings 20-100k plus and more boasting about the "exposure" you'll get if they share your work...and frankly...if they are legit, it's even better than getting published in a magazine these days, because 20-100k+ WILL actually see your work and be able to instantly drive through to your social presence and connect with you directly. Thus, it's become a real attraction to struggling creatives out there...myself included.

The down side of these so-called businesses, is a LOT of them are fake, which makes things even worse for you and the platform as a whole in the long run. What makes it even more ridiculous, is these "elite" reach-accounts, are now trying to charge the artists for this "exposure."

Today I was contacted about my mens fashion work and at first i was kinda excited....until I read the rest of their pitch. (names are blurred as i don't want this company getting any more attention since i've reported them for potentially violating IG's terms of service anyway).  This is what frustrates me beyond belief. Making it as a freelance artist, is tough enough on it's own, but when you have these accounts who buy fake users to boast about reach you'll get, it makes things harder to achieve. 

Oh yes, the company who hit me up asking me to pay them to feature my work on their account? They grew by over 20k followers over night back in Sept....meaning they CLEARLY bought their account 

It's funny also as when you look at their accounts, they often have less interactions and likes than the users they spam do...

Basically, a true "buyer beware" moment for those on the market to grow their social followings and don't or won't do it organically haha. 

Anyway, as my friend Pratik said, it brings up more questions;

  1. How many accounts now do this? 
  2. How many people are paying to be featured? 
  3. Is there anything wrong with this, and how does this differ from paid advertising? 
  4. It's morally strange, but is it against Instagram's Terms of Service? 

He and I have the same opinion on this, and that it's a terrible way to grow a brand/business and following, BUT, it does beg the question if there are enough people paying, AND enough people actually gaining followers from it to make it commercially viable and profitable?

I believe this is a HUGE scam, and causes the REAL reach of your accounts to be messed with since Facebook and Instagram keep changing the way hashtags, shares, and the actual timeline work to combat these spam/scam accounts, which in the long run, just reduces the reach of everyone on the platform.

What about you?  Do you think these Pay to be Seen accounts are worth it? Are they Legal? Immoral? Or is it a new business model that is just at the starting phase of being accepted?