Instagram Powerlikes, to me, are a pretty interesting concept. In theory, they have the potential to be a powerful tool for marketers. In practice, just a quick Google search for the term is enough to convince most people – at least the people who know what they’re doing – that they’re nothing but a fraud.
Curious? Let’s dig a little deeper.
What Are Instagram Powerlikes?
The theory behind Instagram Powerlikes is that not all likes are created equal. This is a theory that is put into practice on every social network that has likes in the first place. If a random account with the name “fcnewjfa” likes your post, that’s basically valueless. If your best friend Kristy from grade school likes your post, that’s a decent like. If the official account for Nike likes your post, that’s a huge boon.
Sound familiar? Most of us call it “influencer marketing” and accept that it’s going to take a while to get into the good graces of the high quality accounts, but that once we’ve done so, it’s a beneficial relationship to keep alive.
Of course, Powerlikes are not identical to influencer marketing. With influencer marketing, you’re using your brand position to try to showcase that you’re worth listening to, to get the larger brands to pay some attention to you. You attend networking events, you call on connections, you guest post, and you generally create a web presence that indicates you’re at least somewhere near the same level as the influencers you’re targeting.
With Powerlikes, you’re generally just going to some service that sells them and buying them. You might think you’re getting a good deal, but you’re really not.
Where Ideas Meet Reality
The idea behind Powerlikes is a pretty good one. You get likes from popular accounts that have a lot of followers, and thus those followers are able to see your post, thus giving you exposure to a much larger audience than you normally would be able to find.
Sometimes you’ll be paying for general Powerlikes, from accounts that do just about everything. Sometimes you’ll be paying for niche Powerlikes, from accounts that have more focus on their industry and topic, and thus a more focused audience as well.
Regardless, put a little bit of critical thinking into it for a moment. If you’ve spent a long time – years, maybe even 5+ years – working to grow your Instagram profile such that you have half a million followers, you know what you’re doing. You know how to engage your audience, and you know what kinds of content you should be sharing.
Are you going to sell a like from your account – and thus spam your followers – for the meager price of $50? I certainly wouldn’t. Heck, a lot of the services selling Powerlikes put a price like $10 per month for 100 likes. 10 cents for a like? I’m not going to even log in to my Instagram profile for ten cents.
The fact is, no one sensible with a large account is going to sell likes for pennies. If they’re selling anything, they’re selling sponsored posts, which they clearly label so they can comply with federal disclosure laws, and which they get paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for. Many aren’t even going to sell that, simply because you never know when Instagram is going to decide such and such a transaction is ban-worthy.
Nevertheless, there are still services selling Powerlikes from “high ranking” accounts, without, of course, ever specifying what those accounts are. There’s really only one viable conclusion that can be drawn here, and that’s “this is a scam.”
Looking At Data
I don’t have an Instagram account set up that I’m willing to test these services on, but honestly, I don’t feel like I need to. I’m just going to point out some evidence and let you draw the conclusions.
First of all, when you start digging into Powerlikes, you tend to find three kinds of things. First are the people promoting them. Second are the people calling them a scam. And third are the people selling them.
Let’s look at some of the people promoting them. You have people like Alec Wilcock on YouTube, who is selling his own content and techniques for boosting Instagram. You have Thor Aarsand, doing the same thing on his YouTube channel, though a little more transparently. You have people like Len Gordon on Medium, lacing his post with links to the latest affiliate for the Powerlikes seller he’s promoting.
Obviously, you can’t necessarily trust people like this. They have affiliate ties with the services they’re promoting, so they have a reason to not want to talk down about them. If they tell you it works, and you pay for the service through their link, they get paid. They don’t care if you actually see results, so long as that number in their YouTube ad revenue and their affiliate accounts goes up.
That’s not to say that these guys haven’t had some success with Powerlikes. Nor is it to say that they’re setting out to swindle everyone; they could believe in what they’re selling. Just remember that when someone is selling you something, and they profit from your purchase, you might want to look at things a little closer.
After you find these people, you find discussion about Powerlikes on other sites. Now, let’s just consider one fact before all others. If a technique is being discussed on sites like Hubspot, Buffer, or Social Media Examiner, you’d probably think it’s a legitimate technique, right? At the very least, they probably have a relatively unbiased overview of the technique, with pros and cons, or a discussion of why it’s a bad technique and should be avoided.
What about when you find discussion of the technique primarily on sites like Reddit and Black Hat World, with nary a legitimate blog to be seen? Reddit is full of plenty of good content, sure, but I would never describe it as a white hat site. Reddit users have no obligation to stick to white hat techniques, and they’ll often promote gray or black hat techniques if they think they work.
Now, what does it tell you when the threads on Black Hat World are cases where a guy pays $40 to get 100 followers, or where someone is putting a lot of effort into debunking the core concept, or where even someone on BHW, home of all the biggest black hat scams, calls it a 99% chance of being a scam? Even Reddit tells you that you’d be better off with an engagement pod.
So on one hand, you have the people who love using black hat techniques as growth hacks telling you that Powerlikes are a scam. On the other hand, you have people telling you that Powerlikes are great and effective, while pocketing the money they get when you buy through their link.
Now let’s look at some of the sellers themselves. I’ve just pulled the top three from some casual Google searching. None of these are affiliate links – you can check if you like – and I am in no way recommending their services. This is not an endorsement.
First is GoSo.io. This is the one promoted by that guy on Medium, and even their homepage talks about how you can earn a 25% commission on your affiliate sales, so I can see why he’s pushing it.
Their Powerlikes packages start at a “rookie” plan with 100 Powerlikes per post for 10 Euros per month. They limit you to 3 posts per day, of course, so you can’t post a lot and rake in as much as they’ll give you. Their packages scale all the way up to 20,000 Powerlikes for a whopping 1,400 Euros per month. I can’t imagine any service selling that many likes without being immediately caught and banned by Instagram, but I’m sure the site would be more than happy to take a month’s worth of cash before disappearing entirely.
Of course, GoSo sells all manner of other gray and black hat services as well. Their SEO packages include some basic SEO auditing (that you can do with free tools) and a pile of links from who knows what sites. They even talk about tiered link building, explicitly a black hat technique.
They also have a “deals” section that’s just a giant pile of affiliate links to thinks like Namecheap domain names or hosting, weird toolbars (do people still use toolbars?) and old video games, for some reason. Who wants to buy a copy of a Call of Duty game released in 2007, even if it’s only $10?
Next up we have YrCharisma, which is one of those sites just layered with so much crap I can barely even tolerate using it. To even begin to see what’s on the site, I have to close not one, not two, but three different overlays. They sell their own Powerlikes plan for like $40 per month, and for that, they claim to get you real, active, niche, targeted, high quality followers. Sure, and I have a bridge to sell you out in New York City, just needs a little refurbishing.
Third is BoostUpSocial, which I love because they charge so much more than everyone else. Their basic, cheap plan is $225 per month and gets you a whole 600 Powerlikes per post, for 30 posts per month. The reason it’s my favorite, though, is the way they use some careful phrasing to take something meaningless and make it sound like a selling point.
- All Powerlikes accounts have 20K – 1.9M followers! (100% of them have 20K followers at best.)
- You can rank on Hashtags! (Ignore that everyone “ranks” on hashtag feeds if you check the feed immediately after posting.)
- Your password isn’t required! (Don’t give your password out to anyone, straight-up.)
Heck, their upgrade to their “diamond” plan even bumps them up from a 208 million follower network to a 250 million follower network. What does that mean? Do they claim to have a second, special network just for people willing to pay $800 per month? I mean, hey, I’d certainly claim it if it could get me an extra pile of cash every month. It’s not like anyone demands proof. It’s just a bigger number, which means it’s better.
The best part is, the follower networks don’t claim to be unique. If you make 1,000 fake accounts and have all 1,000 accounts follow each other, you have 1,000 accounts with 1,000 followers each, that’s a million followers in your network!
Don’t forget the fine print! “If you haven’t posted or received likes from our service yet, we will issue a refund.” Except they promise to start delivering likes within minutes. “After you’ve used our service once, the duration of your subscription is locked in for the billing cycle.” So, five minutes after you hit the button, they take your money and deliver one (1) like, after which you’re locked in for however many hundreds of dollars you just gave them so you can get a bunch of bots to like your posts. Nice!
Should You Use Powerlikes?
Frankly, the concept of Powerlikes is nothing but a scam. Influencer marketing is real, and the power of likes coming from high quality accounts is a real phenomenon. The idea that any of those powerful accounts have just handed control of their account over to some guy to sell their likes is laughable.
If you want to replicate the concept of Powerlikes, just get into influencer marketing. It will be slower, but it will cost a lot less and will work infinitely better. Trust me on this one.