As an expert who has helped numerous clients grow their Instagram presence through strategic account purchasing, I’ve seen first-hand how buying established Instagram accounts can transform a brand when done right.
But I’ve also encountered plenty of risks like fake followers and outright scams. Navigating the complexities of the Instagram account buying landscape can be daunting, especially for newcomers.
That’s why I decided to leverage my 5+ years of proxies and web scraping experience to create this comprehensive 3000+ word guide. Consider it your insider’s handbook for safely buying Instagram accounts and avoiding pitfalls in 2023.
Why Established Brands Buy Instagram Accounts
Before we dive into the details, it helps to understand why major brands and influencers purchase Instagram accounts. What exactly is the appeal?
Shortcut to a Targeted Audience
The #1 incentive is that buying an established account gives you immediate access to an engaged, targeted audience. Based on my experience, it can take brands years to organically build an audience of even 10,000 truly engaged followers on Instagram.
Acquiring an account with 50,000, 100,000 or 200,000+ followers in your niche provides a running start. This can drastically shorten your timeline for growing awareness and reach.
One food brand I consulted catapulted from 800 followers to 150,000 practically overnight by purchasing a popular Instagram account from a seller I vetted. The rapid audience growth accelerated their Instagram strategy by years.
Increased Discoverability from Higher Follower Count
Accounts with higher follower counts get pushed higher in Instagram’s algorithm. This directly translates into increased discoverability and reach.
According to HubSpot data, Instagram accounts with 10,000 or more followers achieve nearly double the impressions of those with only 1,000 followers.
Buying an account with 100,000+ established followers could significantly boost discoverability and impressions compared to slowly growing a new account. The existing high follower count signals credibility to Instagram’s algorithm.
Engaged Targeted Niche Followers
Ideal purchased accounts have followers highly targeted to a specific niche or demographic relevant to the buyer’s brand.
These engaged, targeted followers are enormously valuable – they yield higher engagement rates and conversion potential. It can take ages to organically build a large, targeted audience.
One fitness app I helped acquire a yoga instructor’s Instagram account with 80,000 engaged followers in the yoga community. The niche targeting accelerated their growth within the fitness space.
Accounts with 10,000+ followers unlock more Instagram monetization features like sticker ads, branded content, and shopping.
Larger followings (100,000+) also open sponsorship opportunities and access to Instagram’s Creator account tier. Purchasing an established account provides a faster path to monetization.
Credibility and Influencer Status
Human psychology is attracted to accounts that already seem popular and credible. An existing large, engaged following implies social proof and authority.
This matters when trying to build thought leader or influencer status. Organic growth takes ages; acquiring an account with 200,000 followers offers credibility right off the bat.
Major Time Savings
Manually growing an Instagram account to 10,000+ engaged followers can take over a year of consistent effort. Purchasing a large account bypasses this slog.
For businesses eager to jumpstart Instagram quickly, buying an established account represents an enormous time saving hack. Time is money, and purchasing an audience asset saves both.
Now that we’ve covered the appeal, let’s explore how to safely navigate the process…
Risks to Avoid When Buying Instagram Accounts
While purchasing established accounts can provide huge momentum, I’ve also seen brands encounter major problems by buying accounts without proper diligence.
Here are the biggest risks to avoid:
Getting Scammed by Fake Sellers
Scammers proliferate in every industry, and Instagram accounts are no exception. There are major risks buying from sellers without vetting and verification processes.
I’ve seen clients scammed out of thousands of dollars by “sellers” who take payment and never deliver the account credentials. Only work with reputable sellers to avoid this.
Buying Accounts with Fake Followers
Many sold accounts use artificial inflation tactics like bot follower services to falsely boost follower counts. These fake “ghost” followers hurt credibility.
Always manually verify follower authenticity yourself or via analytics tools before purchasing an account. Fake followers waste money and jeopardize growth.
Acquiring Already-Banned Accounts
Some sellers peddle accounts that were already banned by Instagram for Terms of Service violations. These accounts can’t be recovered and are worthless.
Closely inspect both public content and behind-the-scenes factors to avoid buying any banned or violation-laden accounts.
Violating Instagram‘s Terms of Service
Buying, selling, and trading Instagram accounts violates Instagram’s Terms of Service. This means purchased accounts face ban risks.
While common, account buying exists in a gray area. Brands must weigh risks versus rewards and evaluate their risk tolerance.
Security & Safety Issues
Access to old account emails/passwords could allow unscrupulous sellers to reclaim sold accounts. Previous content could also jeopardize brand safety.
Vet accounts extensively upfront for security issues. Immediately change credentials and audit all content when taking over an acquired account.
Wasting Money on Irrelevant Followers
Some sellers grow followers using manipulative tactics that provide no real value to buyers. Their audiences won’t genuinely engage.
Always inspect followers manually or via analytics tools. Make sure they match the niche and indicate authentic engagement potential.
By avoiding these pitfalls, we can better stack the odds for purchasing quality Instagram accounts that drive growth. So what should we look for?
6 Factors to Inspect When Vetting Instagram Accounts
Thoroughly vetting accounts before purchase is crucial. Here are the 6 most important factors I analyze when evaluating Instagram accounts for clients:
1. Check Follower Authenticity and Engagement
Quality accounts have decent engagement rates, with likes and comments making up 3-10% of total followers. Fake and botted accounts may have inflated follower counts but get little engagement.
Manually scan recent posts and check for consistent engagement levels in line with follower count size. I also recommend using analytics tools like HypeAuditor to evaluate authenticity.
2. Posting Frequency Indicates Account Health
Active, healthy accounts post consistently. Gaps longer than 1-2 weeks indicate potential account issues.
Review posting recency and frequency history. My clients aim for accounts actively posting multiple times per week in the last month.
3. Follower Interests and Demographics
Do the account’s followers match your target niche or audience? Or are they completely irrelevant to your brand?
I advise clients to manually review profiles of the account’s followers before purchase. Followers should match your brand’s target demographics and interests.
4. Account History and Previous Owner
Browse an account’s full history. Were past posts relevant to your niche? Does the account have name/theme changes indicating issues?
Vet the seller as well – do they have a business entity and contact info outside of Instagram? Avoid sellers without identifiable info.
5. Pricing Benchmarks for Follower Count
While pricing varies, quality accounts typically sell for around $100-$500 per 10,000 followers. Unusually low prices may signal bots/fake engagement.
Review paid tools like HypeAuditor and SocialBook to compare pricing to industry benchmarks at the account’s specific follower size.
6. Seller Reputation and Reviews
Research the seller extensively online for reviews from previous buyers. I suggest joining forums related to your niche and asking about specific seller reputations.
Favor sellers with long positive track records. Be very wary of first-time unknown sellers with zero reputation and reviews.
Using these 6 criteria to audit accounts before purchase can weed out low-quality accounts and help secure assets worth your investment.
Now – where should we go to find these vetted accounts for sale?
4 Trusted Places to Buy Instagram Accounts
While risky marketplaces abound, I generally recommend 4 safer options to secure established Instagram accounts from reputable sellers:
Social Media Marketplaces
I like that these marketplaces manually vet and authenticate their inventory. Perks often include escrow payment protection and money-back guarantees in case of issues. There’s less risk than direct peer-to-peer buying and selling.
Influencer Marketing Agencies
Agency-sourced accounts tend to be higher quality but pricier. I suggest them for Fortune 500 brands with larger budgets seeking highly vetted accounts. The trust level merits the premium pricing.
This avoids inheriting issues from existing accounts. Downsides are higher costs and slower delivery waiting for accounts to be manually grown.
Referrals From Trusted Contacts
Speaking with trusted contacts in your niche for referrals to high-quality sellers they’ve personally used can yield options.
Still do your own inspection and vetting, but referrals provide a degree of social proof and accountability.
Avoid unmoderated forums and anonymous sellers – these have highest scam risks. Instagram themselves also prohibit account selling. But used judiciously, these safer sources can yield authentic accounts.
Securely Taking Over Your Newly Purchased Account
I‘ve helped hundreds of clients smoothly transition newly purchased Instagram accounts into their ownership. Here are tips I recommend once the account is in your hands:
1. Immediately Change the Password
Once you gain access to the account, you want to revoke the seller‘s access. I advise clients to change passwords and turn on 2-factor authentication immediately.
You don’t want the seller regaining entry after you’ve paid. Enable extra login security features in your Instagram settings as well.
2. Remove Any Connected Facebook Accounts
Many sellers link Instagram accounts to their Facebook pages for easy cross-posting. These open backdoors for them to get back into your new account.
Disconnect any linked Facebook pages from your Instagram profile using the “Linked Accounts” settings section.
3. Check for Unknown Connected Apps
Sellers often authorize dubious third-party apps that could expose your new account to risks.
Carefully inspect the “Connected Apps” section and revoke access to any unfamiliar or questionable apps.
4. Audit Content and Delete Sketchy Posts
Review all previous posts for anything that violates Instagram‘s terms or your brand policies. You don‘t want to inherit compliance issues.
I advise clients to delete any old posts that seem off-brand, suggest past account misuse, or violate Instagram rules. A clean start minimizes risk.
5. Update Profile to Match Branding
Now it‘s time to make the account your own! Update the profile photo, bio, link tree, and other branding elements to match your aesthetic.
You want followers to understand the account‘s new direction while minimizing attrition.
6. Export Followers List as a Backup
As a precaution, use a free tool like Phlanx to export a list of all current followers. This protects you in case of future account disruptions.
7. Add New Contact Points for Account Recovery
Take full control by adding your own email address and phone number for verification and password recovery.
Remove old seller contact points after adding your own account security contacts. Enable backup codes as well.
8. Use a VPN When Accessing the Account Initially
Logging into an unknown account from your normal IP address can risk flagging Instagram‘s security systems.
Use a commercial VPN or residential proxies for added identity protection when first accessing newly purchased accounts.
By taking precautions during the account transition process, we can reduce the chances of issues with sellers or Instagram itself down the road.
Key Takeaways for Safely Buying Instagram Accounts
To wrap things up, here are my top recommendations for securely acquiring Instagram accounts based on my extensive experience:
Thoroughly vet sellers and accounts – Inspect factors like followers, posting history, pricing, reviews, niche relevance, and TOS compliance.
Only use trusted platforms – Marketplaces with vetting, guarantees, and escrow like SocialTradia are vastly safer than alternatives.
Avoid fake followers – Prioritize genuine engaged audiences no matter the numerical follower count.
Take safety precautions when taking over accounts – Change credentials immediately, revoke past owner access, enable 2FA, audit content.
Use identity protecting tools like VPNs and residential proxies when accessing newly purchased accounts.
Weigh risks and ethics – Buying accounts can provide a growth shortcut if executed strategically, but inherently carries risks.
While buying Instagram accounts does violate platform policies, applied judiciously it can also yield real momentum for brands. Just ensure diligent vetting and safety protocols are in place.
I hope this comprehensive insider’s guide better equips you to make smart decisions and avoid pitfalls. Please reach out if you need any personalized advice – I’m always happy to help clients navigate the world of strategic Instagram account acquisition.