Grading Methodology

We developed a standard grading system used to evaluate Instagram growth services that help you gain exposure, followers, and likes. Our rubric takes into account so many different data points that it isn’t always necessary for us to try out the services. Our research is extremely detailed compared to any other providers on the internet. We take pride in this.

We constantly evaluate the effectiveness of our system, and it is possible that older grades will not be kept up to date.

The Criteria

Team & Business

For privacy and safety reasons, we don’t require entire teams to be readily identifiable. We expect that some associates of the company will have transparent profiles on social networks, ideally where their involvement is described.

Any business that appears to only have one owner and no employees gets dinged. Single-owner services are usually slow to adapt to changes and have awful customer service. Though these services usually have lower overhead and are often cheaper, when things go wrong, you’re never going to get your money back.

For any business, we look for an identification number or registration (for example, an LLC). We then look up records for that business to see if it actually exists and if the business has any type of tax, conduct, or physical location record.


We don’t expect every business to have a physical office, but we will investigate any addresses provided. If it’s someone’s house, that’s not the end of the world. If we have reason to believe it’s fraudulent, that’s a problem.

We have a strong preference for businesses located in the United States. The US has phenomenal consumer-protection laws. Additionally, US companies and payment processors have an easier time moderating activity on their own turf. If a service is US-based and has been around for years, there’s a fairly good chance they’re in the good graces of whatever platform they operate on.


Now that we’re in the early twenties, this type of thing should be flawless. It rarely is!

A service-provider must have an easily-identifiable email address at the very least. A great service should have live chat. Excellent services will also add in other channels, such as the ability to message them on Facebook.

As an active customer, you should have fairly regular access to a ticketing system with reps who respond within 48 hours. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for us to evaluate this if we haven’t used a service ourselves. Usually any disgruntled reviewers will make this known.

The best services have phone numbers that you can call and that they’ll pick up. This is extremely rare.

Web Presence & Reputation Management

It’s important to check how a service conducts itself on the internet. This starts with their own website. Does it seem like a pretty template that was thrown together in a weekend? Are there personal touches? Are all of the images stock images?

Does the website have an active blog? If so, who are the blog writers? Can you identify them as real people? Are they freelancers or retained employees?

These are social media businesses… right? It should be viewed with suspicion if the businesses don’t have some presence on websites especially Facebook. We don’t think that they need to have thousands of followers on each platform in order to prove anything, we just want to see the platforms being utilized in helpful, sustainable ways.

We view businesses running excessive ad campaigns with caution. Running an ad campaign means that the business is able to scale easily, which usually means some parts of the business are streamlined (good) if not fully automated (sometimes bad).

We look down upon businesses with extremely saturated blog placement. If a site has tons of paid backlinks and shill blog posts hawking their affiliate program, it’s really hard to trust them.

People often ask us why we didn’t review most of the popular services soon after launching. It’s really complicated. The web presence is usually deceitful to the point that we need to spend days sorting through networks of fake personas, fake reviews, and circular links. We usually end up testing the service for an extended period of time.


Reviews heavily influence how we evaluate Instagram growth services. Here’s the thing–the average customer is actually kind of shitty. Nobody is ever going to have a perfect 5/5 average because the type of person to purchase an Instagram growth service is probably going to have outrageous expectations. So we control for that.

What we really care about are fake reviews and responses to outlier reviews. We investigate nearly every on-site testimonial provided. If the account seems like a shill, or the review doesn’t make sense, or the reviewer is a known paid reviewer, we lose all confidence in the service.

If negative reviews are not responded to, that’s also an issue. We don’t care how “kind” customer service responses are. We want to see facts laid out and specific concerns responded to. We do not want to see “this must be one of our competitors setting us up!” There’s a fine line.

If the company fights against negative reviews with evidence and points that are not repetitive, that’s great. If a company fights back by trying to cast doubt and intimidate the customer, that’s a problem.

Truth in Advertising

It all comes down to this. Is the service provider telling you want you want to hear or the facts about the service? We carefully analyze each and every claim.

If we see a business claiming to have worked with, say, Tesla, we will dig up the referenced work. If it doesn’t exist and isn’t linked to, that’s a demerit.

If a firm says they use real people but they obviously use bots, that’s a demerit. If they say they have X support offerings but nobody responds to my tickets, email, or review, that’s a demerit.

If a service isn’t forthcoming about needing your password to grow your account, that’s also highly suspicious.

Finally, if a service guarantees you how many followers you’ll get, it’s probably a scam.

The Grades

X – This is a service that is no longer operating. In rare cases, this grade can be assigned to a service that maintains a web presence but has crucial parts of the website failing to function. Any reviews with an X rating will typically be retrospective with limited context.

F – This is a service that should be avoided at all costs. Our research has revealed many sources of abject deception, extremely unhappy customers, and unsafe business practices, if not outright fraud. A service in this category is not worth the risk to your Instagram account or your bank account.

D [range] – A service provider with a D has major work to do. In this tier, you might find a functional service, but the business’ identity and web presence is shrouded in lies. Customer support will be awful, and the business is most often a one-man operation that doesn’t have the capacity to service customers. It is also common that the business is actually a “white label” simply up-selling a competitor’s service!

C [range] – This covers the bulk of the providers in this space. The results can be decent but many aspects fall well below whatever is promised. Customer support isn’t as good as it should be, and it can be difficult to understand whether the business is helping you at all. In this tier, we start to consider the price and value of a service. We also consider whether the business has paid for fake reviews or biased blog placements.

B [range] – This is a a great service. The B range contains providers with long track records and excellent business transparency. We’re not looking for thousands of happy customers, but rather the complete absence of unanswered allegations of fraud. We also have high expectations for the customer service provided by these firms. Ideally, they’re US-based and are comprised of teams of at least four people.

A [range] – Services with extremely strong reputations and veritably great results. High business transparency, high customer satisfaction, and teams that bring innovation to the space. Customer support response rates nearing 100%. No blemishes of any kind. How consistent is the business’ implementation compared to what they promise, and how good of a value is their service compared to peers? Fake review sites want you to believe that many services are in this tier. Truthfully, few are!