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I’ve been in the Instagram Growth space since 2017. I’ve never owned a service myself, but I’ve come to know the ins and outs of the business. In 2021, people still are willing to pay for “real” followers, and plenty of services are happy to collect payments while providing marginal results. What’s a scam and what’s worth paying for?
Based on my research, there are roughly 50 active Instagram growth services. Some services just send batches of likes in a one-shot deal. Others take control of your account and automatically take actions. Some supplement their actions with more-advanced software. Some do everything by hand. Some do nothing!
There are flaws to every active method and many services are managed without any integrity. Nearly every service I’m familiar with has purchased fake reviews to minimize the bad ones. Many lie about how they actually get you followers or how easy it is to cancel. Sniffing out this kind of thing has become second nature for me, but Instagram users are still being taken advantage of on a daily basis.
A more recent problem is the proliferation of fake authority review websites. When you search for “top Instagram growth service,” it’s likely that the top five results will actually contain lists from seemingly non-affiliated websites. These are what we call “authority” websites.
Guess what? The majority of those websites are complete shams created by the more resourceful service providers in order to boost traffic to their own sites, put down competitors, and collect affiliate payments from whoever is left. Most of the remaining articles are on websites that might be legit, but website owners have been paid to place backlinks. You’re left with this massive, shady network that fools Google search and deprives small operators of search traffic. This is common wherever there is a highly-profitable product that is likely indistinguishable from competitors.
How blatant is it? Very! Unfortunately, reading comprehension isn’t the strong suit of many of the people throwing money around in this space. In just about an hour, you could realize that the same businesses with the same vague descriptions are the ones appearing on these “top” lists. You could determine that the authority sites are not genuine, the writers don’t exist, most of the “reviews” are fictional, and, though you’re encouraged to “leave comments,” everyone’s comments always get swallowed by moderation. There’s no critical thinking or real analysis to be spoken of yet tens of thousands of people have been fooled. This user behavior, in turn, has skewed Google’s site rankings.
Rather than continuing to rant, I’ll just tell you about two independent services that I have experience with. I’ve worked with them, I know the owners. Both have existed since 2017. I’m certainly biased, in a sense, but I have been a customer of each and have referred plenty of friends already.
#1 Overall Service – Tree Frog Social
Cost: $30/month with $1 trial
Service Type: Hybrid Growth
Not only is Tree Frog the oldest continuously-running growth service, but they’ve also kept their cheapest service the same price–$1 for the first month then $30 per month after. It’s a phenomenal deal that is still, to my knowledge, the cheapest in the industry.
Tree Frog is known for being rigid when handling customer complaints. I’d imagine that has been crucial in keeping the costs down. Somehow, they are able to offer 24/7 English-speaking support to all customers with excellent response times. They even have phone support which is something that the scammy services have never bothered to offer. Also, their cancelation process is fully automated, you don’t ever have to wonder if your account has been canceled or not.
They have few negative reviews and no reviews that seem obviously fake. Every negative review has been responded to with a story that is actually completely plausible. Sometimes even hilarious. Tree Frog appears fearless in responding to reviews, and absolutely rejects the notion that the customer is always right. As they’ve now handled thousands of customers, the half-dozen-or-so bad reviews really wouldn’t sway me. In fact, their responses give me even more confidence in the quality of the service.
So, how good is the service and what do they do? Simply, the results are much better than any of their similarly-priced competitors. Tree Frog doesn’t guarantee followers, as that would be impossible unless they were sending you fake ones, but I’ve regularly been able to get hundreds of followers per month on every account I’ve used with them and into the thousands on extremely-high-quality accounts of friends.
Their approach to growth is a hybrid, many aspects of which they’ve originated in-house. So, rather than plugging you in to some crappy software system, they seem to use a combination of things. Without getting into much detail, I believe they use manual actions, software-aided discovery, geolocalization, engagement groups, and hashtag research. The engagement is always great, though sometimes the setup time can take up to two days. It’s also a safe service, I’ve never had an action block or anything.
I highly recommend Tree Frog. As an independent operator, they’ve often led the way while staying small and never compromising quality. They also have an incredible network and have been known to offer bespoke services or just recommend those with larger budgets to switch to other agencies. My feeling is that their service is an incredible deal and it’d be silly not to try them as a first step. To me, it’s impressive that they’ve never run ads. They could be bigger but clearly have no desire to expand rapidly.
Note for additional transparency: Though I mentioned it above, I want to make it more clear here: I have worked as a freelance contributor at Tree Frog Social for stretches of time ranging back to 2017. The ownership team did not approve, pay for, or direct any aspect of this blog post.
#1 Agency Service – Ampfluence
Service Type: Full agency, growth by hand
Ampfluence has always bucked the trends in this industry. For many years, they’ve been the white knights of Instagram growth. A full, human, team is behind every action they take. They grow your account in the safest, most intelligent way.
The truth is that other services, though they can compete with or exceed Ampfluence in terms of raw results, can be more dangerous or simply, in the case of Tree Frog, won’t always have perfect targeting. Because you get a dedicated account rep with Ampfluence, you aren’t guaranteed better results, but you are guaranteed significantly better targeting than other services, perhaps better than you could do yourself!
Ampfluence is a large, streamlined agency for those with big budgets. Their price points are as high as $999 per month, which seems silly compared to services like Tree Frog. In actuality, Ampfluence could be comparable to hiring a traditional media agency.
They have always accommodated my requests and have tended to be more understanding than Tree Frog, which makes sense because their cheapest service costs 10x more. My only issue with Ampfluence is that it’s extremely expensive and can be hard to justify compared to investing the money into regular ad campaigns or actual media production (videos, pictures, podcasts). The majority of people looking to pay this much for Instagram growth very likely are barking up the wrong tree, whereas most people can easily afford $30 per month.
I stand behind Ampfluence as an excellent and unique service provider.
As I said above, there are dozens of active agencies all positioning themselves for a piece of the action. It can be extremely hard for someone inexperienced to sort through the bullshit and find a capable service. I’ve only included two above because they are extremely trustworthy. However, as time goes on and I hear from more viewers, I will be happy to adjust these reviews or include new ones. Thanks for reading!