Curious about the Instagram Follow/Unfollow Method?


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How do you feel about the Instagram follow/unfollow method?

Here’s my deep dark secret: I don’t like social media.

<gasp>

What kind of blogger doesn’t like social media?!

The truth of it is that I love blogging because I love writing and I love helping others – whether I’m helping them find a great deal or monetize their blogs, it’s all fun! I did not, however, get into blogging to put my personal life on display. I’m a private person and I live a fairly boring life so there’s really nothing I could share that anyone would be interested in seeing. As such, I’ve skipped Snapchat and Periscope and while I signed up for an Instagram account in 2011, I basically ignored it for a couple of years. Then, in the fall of 2015, I decided that I should finally get more serious about Instagram.

I stumbled upon a Facebook group that was forming at the time, Instagram Posse, and loved the sense of camaraderie and commitment everyone had to growing their Instagram accounts. I watched in awe as some people grew their accounts quite quickly and I used many of their tips to grow my own account. Over the past two years, I have grown my account from 350 to 29,000+, which I’m quite pleased with, although I was definitely one of the slowest growing accounts in the group. A couple of people grew their accounts to over 30k in just six months!

The Instagram Follow/Unfollow Strategy

Instagram Decoded Guide from InstaRevealed

The reason that many accounts grew so quickly is that the founder of the group is a firm believer in the “Follow/Unfollow Method” for gaining followers on Instagram.

If you’re not familiar with the follow/unfollow method, it basically involves following people on Instagram and then unfollowing them a few days later, all the while hoping that the other person won’t notice or won’t care and won’t unfollow you. They say it’s like giving someone a tap on the shoulder and saying, “hey, check out my account!”

The reason people follow and then unfollow on Instagram is that they’re trying to grow their accounts, but that can be tough to do on a platform that’s always changing. Short of sending everyone on Instagram a personal message, following someone is one way to guarantee that they will at least see that you’ve followed them, glance at your account, and maybe follow you back. This is a method solely used for growing one’s account, so the person doing the following is probably not actually interested in your content, but you won’t know that until they unfollow you a few days later. Generally speaking, if they unfollow you, it’s nothing personal, even though it may feel like it. Chances are, this person never even looked at your page.

Another reason why people may unfollow you on Instagram is that accounts can only follow 7,500 other accounts at one time. If someone gets close to that maximum number, they’re probably going to start unfollowing accounts.

Using the follow/unfollow technique on Instagram isn’t for everyone. All you have to do is look through the comments on this post to see that most people hate it! Many Instagram users get pissed when someone follows them, only to unfollow them… and then see that same person following and unfollowing them again a few days, weeks, or months later! It’s understandable, though – nobody wants to feel like they’re just being accumulated as part of a number. The reason the same people may keep popping up in your feed is that it can be difficult to keep track of who you’ve previously followed then unfollowed, so you’re bound to hit some of the same accounts multiple times.

BUT, If you have been looking for a way to grow your Instagram following quickly and you don’t mind that there’s a chance you could piss off a few people along the way, then the follow and unfollow method may be for you. If you want to know more about it, you may want to pick up the Instagram Decoded Guide, which goes through the ins-and-outs of using the follow/unfollow method and actually provides detailed hourly instructions for how to go about it. In addition to this Instagram technique, they also cover lots of other ways you can grow your following, but I mention this guide specifically because it talks about the Instagram follow/unfollow method, which many other people dare not mention. Some of the other topics covered in the guide include setting up your Instagram profile, hashtag research, tips for increasing your Instagram engagement, understanding the Instagram algorithm, and more.

How to tell if someone has unfollowed you on Instagram

Unless you’re an eagle eye, the easiest way to tell if someone has unfollowed you on Instagram is via an app. Unfortunately, Instagram is pretty strict about what apps can access their API, and they’ve shut down quite a few over the past couple of years.

One Instagram unfollow app that will still tell you who has unfollowed you (for a monthly fee), is Followers Pro. Two others are the Unfollowers and Followers App and Unfollowers on Instagram. Because Instagram doesn’t approve of these types of apps (or the follow and unfollow method), they frequently shut down these types of apps. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these disappear at any time!

Alternatives to the Instagram Follow Unfollow Strategy

If you’re looking for alternatives to the Instagram follow unfollow strategy, check out 21 ways to increase your Instagram following!

Another Instagram guru that I really like, and who doesn’t believe in follow unfollow, is Alex Tooby. Alex made a name for herself by launching the popular Men and Coffee Instagram account, before deciding to share all of her secrets with us via her two Instagram courses.

Alex Tooby Instagram Courses

Infamous to Influential will teach you everything you need to know to grow your Instagram account without resorting to any gimmicks, while Hashtag Hero will teach you how to utilize the right hashtags on your photos to increase your engagement and grow your followers.

Alex’s classes are in-depth and full of tips that will help you to grow your account and find success on Instagram. She doesn’t offer a grow your account overnight scheme, but instead, tried and true ways to increase your following and engagement.

 

What are your thoughts on the Instagram Follow/Unfollow Method? Have you tried it? Have you found another strategy that works better for you? I’d love to hear!

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Lisa Koivu

Founder at Oh, She Blogs!
Lisa Koivu is the founder of Oh, She Blogs! A seven year blogging veteran, Lisa can also be found posting shopping deals and steals at ShopGirlDaily.com . In her free time (ha!) she is also a freelance writer who has written for About.com and U.S. News.
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  • The follow/unfollow method really irks me. I do a modified method as well – if someone unfollows me after I follow them back, I immediately unfollow them (I have an app for this). I just don’t put up with that crap. I don’t think most of the uber successful accounts do the follow/unfollow thing TBH. To be truly successful on IG, you have to offer something worth value, and so you don’t need to resort to being a jerk. I’m getting really good at figuring out the chances that someone is going to follow me and then unfollow me right away. A tip-off is if they have a fairly high follower count but don’t follow a lot of people, aren’t even in my niche, and they follow me. I usually don’t even bother following these people back since I know they’ll unfollow me right away. And of course they unfollow me the next day… no surprise there. I find that most legit bloggers (in the food blogging world anyway, which is my niche) don’t do this. I think that burning bridges is a bad idea. You never know who you will piss off. I’m more ok with another modification on the follow/unfollow method where you follow someone but unfollow them in a week or so if they don’t follow you back. I still think that’s a little sketchy, but I admit I do that on Twitter sometimes. I think Twitter is a bit of a different beast than IG and reciprocal following is more encouraged unless you’re Beyonce or something.

    • True, I use the same method as you. I follow a bunch (is the only way to make the account visible) and some time later I unfollow the ones that didn’t felt following back. I don’t think is sketchy at all… and of course i have an app to see who unfollows me and bye bye. Sorry if my English is weak, is not my native language 🙂

      • What App do you use to unfollow people who don’t follow you back? And is there any way to White List those accounts who you want to follow but don’t follow back? Thanks!

  • this is fascinating. I’ve tried various ways to grow my insta, and while some have had great moments of success, I still have a LOOOONNNG way to go – these days seems like everyone has thousands of followers, and not sure how they all do it (especially when i see some of the accounts I must say) organically!! But this is a new idea I’ve not yet heard – I can totally see why it would be a little ‘controversial’ but I’m definitely going to try it as you explained and see what happens if anything. How high a number should one typically go in order to see a result ?
    Thanks for all your great posts!
    bee

    • Hi Bee! I’m not sure what you mean by “how high a number…”? How many people to follow overall? Instagram sets a maximum number of 7,500, so you can never follow more than that. They also have hourly and daily limits as to how many people you can follow or unfollow before they will temporarily ban your account. I’ve never hit those limits, so I’m not sure what they are.

  • This method really bothers me. The whole point of social media is to grow a following that is in your audience, to engage with, and to ultimately, help grow your business. The follow/unfollow method is purely a growth method with no regard to accumulating followers that actually mean something to you or your business. If they aren’t truly interested in your account, feed or business, then there will be no engagement from those followers, and your posts/content will be lost into the abyss of the Instagram algorithm. If I get a new follower that has thousands of followers and are following only a small percentage of that number, I will not follow them. They are clearly just racking up followers for their own numbers and not engaging, and ultimately, unfollowing days (sometimes hours) later.

  • It’s so obvious when people use the follow/unfollow method and it’s embarrassing to me. To see an account with 200k+ followers only getting 1k likes a photo says they’re more interested in the number of followers vs actual engagement with their brand’s audience.

    The people I enjoy follow (and will follow to other platforms which is a *HUGE* thing to have from loyal followers) engage with their audience, no matter how big or small their following.

    Anyways, great post and I’ll definitely be bookmarking the “Everything You Need to Know to Get More Instagram Followers” post!

  • Follow/unfollow is rude. It’s for those who have nothing of interest to show or sell but need numbers to stoke their ego. It’s smoke and mirrors. I’m pretty good at at catching them out.

  • A current topic that almost anyone can relate to in this internet world. I was wondering if I were alone in thinking about this tactic. Focusing on hash Tag strategy seems a more likely method to snag loyal followers (albeit with patience). Great discussion post!

    I’m chiming in with my opinion: no thank you to followers/unfollowers. I prefer to grow my audience organically and find similarities to connect with. My Instagram account (connected to my Etsy shop) deals with a constant ebb and flow of these tactics. My follower count holds steady at around 285 but sure enough it will jump within a day of posting new content then fall back to 285 in half that time. I think only 2 or 3 followers per week are actually committed to following me. Never fails. I was annoyed but now it’s just, sadly, expected.

    What I have learned about my customer base is my Instagram count has little correlation to my sales numbers. Posts with a high number of likes + comments are often items that don’t sell quickly – they just sit pretty. I find it funny. Anyway, I’m not an avid Insta user and have much better luck on Twitter. Thank goodness my Twitter isn’t as busy with these “unfollowers”.

  • Thank you for this! I recently just discovered the Facebook group and was looking at the guide wondering if this was using the Follow/Unfollow method. I have a friend who used that method and it really worked for her in terms of sheer numbers of followers of her account. But even when she described her method to me it seemed like that took an inordinate amount of time and then I noticed that yes she has followers but no she doesn’t really have high engagement and it’s just not something I’m trying to do. So I guess I’ll be doing more Instagram research…

  • Follow in follow is just plain rude. I take the time to work out who they are and unfollow if that’s thief game. Won’t work on me.

  • I tried this method because it was highly recommended in a web seminar I took, I realized these high accounts would follow me and I was like wowed that someone with 50k would want to follow little ol me. Then I realized this is what they do, so I tried it for a few days, gained almost 400 followers, but I feel so guilty. Which is how I stumbled upon your post, I needed more insight on this and I don’t think this method is for me, although it does work. It’s just frustrating that you can’t grow your numbers unless your showing your “ASSets” this seemed like the only other way to go.

  • Follow / unfollow is so phony and insincere. I can’t believe people are either so insecure or have such huge egos that the number of their followers is so important to them. Really? It’s so transparent, yet they really think people won’t notice if they unfollow them? Grow up, people, and get a life beyond Instagram.

  • Since I recently just started my blog/Instagram, people have been using this method on me a lot. I agree, whenever I see a blogger who has 20k or 30k + followers and followed me, I get suspicious. I personally think it is a bad way of gaining followers because you aren’t gaining true engagement but just trying to show that you’re popular. It’s just not genuine and plain rude.

  • I HATE the follow/unfollow people. Usually they are personalities or businesses that are similar to other businesses that I already follow, and most of them do not follow back. That is okay and I don’t expect them to follow back. However, when a similar personalities or businesses request to follow me first, I expect that they do so because they are genuinely interested in what I share, especially since many of them are in the same circles and interests that I have (I’m just an average person, no business), and for interaction. When they unfollow soon after, I immediately unfollow and I block them; I have an app that tells me when this happens. I didn’t use to block them, but I’ve had the same people follow/unfollow and try to follow again. It is shady and rude. Any business that does that to me will not get my business.

  • This method really irks me. I downloaded an unfollow app that shows me who unfollowed me and if I’m following them.

    If rather build a following of engaged people than have a huge following.

  • Actually I don’t like such a method, it’s like a cheating for me. So if someone follows me and I see what type of account it is, I ignore that. And indeed more than half of such accounts unfollow me within 3-4 days. And I see that this is a real person, a very interesting one to follow, wy not to follow back?
    Thanks for the post, by the way!

  • I’m wondering if anyone knows of a tool to look at who you follow and see when their last post date was in a list format. I can’t seem to find an easy way to know who is/isn’t active that I’m following to systematically unfollow people. If anyone is familiar with Tumblr when you look at who you follow it will say “last post 2 days ago” or “last post 1 month ago” something like that. Thoughts?

  • Follow/Unfollow is kind of pathetic. I only like or follow something because I like what I see and read. Never so they can check out my stuff. When I first started blogging I would leave comments with a link back. Didn’t do it too much and it was in early days and I didn’t see clearly- not long thereafter I saw how lame a tactic it was and authenticity ruled the day thence forth

    Don’t care how effective it is. Lots of morally reprehensible things can make you money. Ask the no money down real estate infomercial people- they made a lot 9f money off of desperate viewers. Yeah, they may have a Lotus but are contemptible and sad.

  • Instagram Posse is so much more than just f/uf. I tried f/uf last year but hated it. I have instead been putting their other principles into practice and they really work. At the end of the day I follow who I want to follow, I unfollow who I want to unfollow and I enjoy my instagram for me. I don’t have time to mess around with looking at who is actually following or unfollowing me – does it really matter? Everyone has their reasons for unfollowing. Some accounts I like and then they change their style or posting schedule and I find that I need a break from seeing their content so I unfollow. Is this socially wrong? I engage with who I follow and anyone who comments or likes a post will get my attention. I have struggled with posting regularly this year and that has hit me with algorithm, but I am back on it!

  • I find the follow/unfollow method really sleazy and I used to get super annoyed over it, but I’ve just stopped checking my new followers. Now I usually follow back people who engage with my photos a lot. However, I don’t really see a problem in what you do with only unfollowing people who don’t follow back!

  • I’m quite new to instagram, and it didn’t take me long to realize that loads of people are just fishing for followers. All the excitement when seeing that you’ve got a follower or two (when you only have a handful of followers) and then 2 days later it’s bye bye. Annoys me a lot! In my innocent little heart, I really thought they liked my pictures! Hahahaha

  • ugh, this is one of the things that i hate about instagram and twitter. i understand the method of following people so that they will follow you, BUT why do you have to then unfollow them? is it because it makes you feel better to have more followers than the people you are following? if so, please go back to high school and get it out of your system completely before you come back and join us in the adult world. seriously, grow up ; )

  • The follow\unfollow method is totally unscrupulous, dishonest and downright tacky. When I find people doing this I screencap their page over a few days and then report them to instagram, who are being lobbied to do something about it, as Twitter do.

  • Ditto on disliking this method. I got an app for this because it’s such a pet peeve of mine and I immediately unfollow anyone who plays this game. It really pisses me off because I spend a lot of time looking at and liking/commenting on the posts of people I follow. So when I see someone unfollow me when I’ve been liking a lot of their posts, it’s just such an insult. I’m on Instagram to share my art and engage with other artists, so if you’re playing a numbers game, you have no value to contribute.

  • I have a app on my droid that checks who unfollowed me on instagram & I then unfollow them–two can play at that game!

  • The follow/unfollow method annoys me!! I gained about 150 followers over two days and lost them within a week… but I have noticed that the method works for some people. They do this method in the beginning and after reaching a few thousand, they organically gain followers — with pretty good engagement. Sigh.

  • Wow I just started my Instagram account and at first when I started getting followers after the first couple days I thought I would have tons of followers within n a couple weeks! But it slowed down as well as followers died out! This makes sense now why! Thank you for the info! Hmmmm… I got 63 followers Tomorrow probably 59 geez! Oh well just having fun with my food photos! @watchmeeataz

  • Fantastic article Lisa! There are so many EASY ways to grow a following on social media, but the best and most valuable is engaging with and helping people in your niche. Instead of buying fans or following/unfollowing people, I think your time could be better spent having real conversations. I’d rather have 100 raving fans instead of 10,000 inactive, unengaged ones. Don’t get caught up in the numbers and stats, it’s called social media for a reason 😉 Patience is critical if you want to grow organically and logically.

  • This method is so ridiculous. Seriously. If someone does this to me their “brand” is dead to me. I cant respect someone following me just so i will follow them…how narcissistic and selfish can the internet get? If i see someone with millions of followers and shitty content/few likes on their photos its so obvious this person is buying or using this method. Also, i cant even do a modified version because im not interested to follow random accounts just so they follow back.

    I was featured in an influencers article in switzerland by an online magazine. Out of all the bloggers featured…with my measley 400 followers, i was listed as almost the top influencer because i actually had organic and engaged followers. (I dont promote my blog through insta). Id much rather be seen as authentic and engaged.

  • Thanks for your honest post Lisa! I am actually one who currently using the F/UF method, fairly new for me, but so far the growing (followers and engagement) is steady. After reading all the hate comments here (and I am totally aware of the reasons) I am actually here to ask: WHAT IS WORKING FOR YOU PEOPLE? I am talking about instagram as business and not private because these are two very different things. Everyone loves to say: make great content, do more engagement with other accounts, leave comments, like, follow genuinely etc. But does it REALLY work for you regarding growth? How much time do you spend on your account a day? Cause if this is not your full time job to engage on instagram, then I am certain that you can not grow your account reasonably without spending your whole life on your mobile phone.
    The F/UF method as I see it so far: you have the possibility to follow anyone you like. And you also have the possibility to unfollow. It is exactly the same for those who are followed or unfollowed as well. The messed up Instagram algorithm makes it difficult to expose your work, so people are trying to make contact with other accounts this way or an other. Well actually I do not mind when people don’t like this method but I just can not get why people start to hate, block, report as spam, etc. Why not just ignore? why do you even check who follows or unfollows you? does it really matter?
    anyway, just to get back to my question: what works for you? for real.

  • Lisa, I’m trying to grow out Instagram account and I’d prefer to do it your way rather than the follow/unfollow way. Have you found a way to see who you’ve recently followed to see if they followed you back?

  • I think it is the dumbist thing Ive ever heard!! If you follow someone then dump them.. or( you follow them because you have noticed they are a “liker”) you suck!!
    You will fail!! its very fake and you are not a nice person! Follow the people you like because you like them..Dont be an ass!!its very sad:/

  • This happens to me all the time. I take pictures of interiors, I notice a pattern all of a sudden one day I’ll get loads of follows from ‘travel photography’ for example (seems to be a popular one) then about 3 days later sure enough their follow count goes down and I get un followed. I too have an app and can see when they do it. when this happens I lose about 15 followers in one day (I currently have 400 grown completely organically). When I get followed I always go to that persons page to see if they are posting content I would be interested in seeing more of. If they are I’ll engage with likes, relavent comments and even a follow if I can see a pattern of useful content, however if there is nothing that engages me why would I follow them back? I use instagram for inspiration for my work I engage daily with the people I follow. If some random person the other side of the planet posts pictures of their feet at a beach or a random guy passed out over a park bench on a night out and nothing else why would it suprise them for someone not to follow them back?? Wouldn’t you follow someone to gain an element of useful engagement, after all in these cases that person came to me?! It feels like a random person (who for a day job sells insurance lets say) walking in a store buying a TV then saying to the sales person “yeah in three days time you better come and buy insurance from me else I’ll bring the TV back” what kind of person does that??

  • I am relatively new to IG, I didn’t know that this was a thing, until recently starting noticing that my followers decrease by one or two. Now I even do an extra thing , if someone follows/ unfollows me – they call it bait & switch – I simply unfollow and then block them.

  • I hate this method too! You can normally tell who does this. When someone follows me and I click on their name and I see they have thousands of followers but aren’t following many it’s probably just someone who follows/unfollows. What I do when I have extra time is go onto a hashtag that is related to my page(since mine is art I’ll go to drawing,art, fanart etc.) and like pictures. To me there is no harm in that. I also will sometimes go on a comment spree and leave GENUINE comments. (not those ones where it’s irrelevant to your post and you can tell they just copy and paste it to every post!) I normally can find at least one positive in each persons drawing and and will comment on that. So I will say something like “I really like the way you did the shading! great job!” or “I think the pose is really cute!” etc. I refuse to lie to people on instagram so I only share honestly what I think. I share only positive comments because let’s face it, there is already so many negative things! Anyway, I find that while this method is more time consuming I think its fun! I even have found some awesome artists this way and made good friends! I think this could easily be applied to whatever your instagram is focused on. but while we’re at it, I’ll shamelessly promote my art page: @Haleyangelo_artwork

  • I hate the follow/unfollow thing and use an app to see who is doing it to me! These days, I only follow other foodies with OG content who leave an engaging, non-generic comment. I’m growing my followers organically but it is a slow process!
    For sure, giveaways are great ways to grow your audience. I would like to team up with someone who has a larger following to see if I can broaden my exposure!