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Here’s my deep dark secret: I don’t like social media.
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 for 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 31,000, 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
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, this is what you need to know.
How to Follow and Unfollow on Instagram
1. Follow people on Instagram
OK, this sounds pretty basic, but ideally, you want to follow people on Instagram who are in your same niche to increase the odds that they will follow you back.
So, how do you find people to follow who are interested in your niche?
Start following the people who are already following popular influencers in your niche.
For instance, if you want to have an Instagram account dedicated to all of the yummy things you cook and you’re looking for followers, maybe you’d start following the people who follow Smitten Kitchen. Just go through her list of followers and follow people. Based on the fact that they’re already following a cooking/baking account, chances are this is an interest of theirs and they may be open to following your account, too. Of course, you can’t follow too many people at a time or you risk getting your account shut down by Instagram. Follow a few people each hour and, if you wish, slowly increase the number of people that you follow during a specific time period. Slow and steady is the key here. If Instagram suspects unusual follow and unfollow activity on your account, you risk losing the ability to take these actions. (Following and/or unfollowing bans are typically short-lived.)
Currently, Instagram only lets you follow 7,500 users at a time.
2. Interact with the people you follow
There are two things you can do as you follow people: Nothing, or you can interact with them a bit. Since ultimately your goal is to get people to follow you, I recommend interacting a bit. Liking a few posts and leaving a few comments will increase the odds that people will follow you back.
Whatever you do, though, don’t leave shallow comments. Try to leave meaningful comments of five or more words. Don’t just leave an emoji or, even worse, a bland “good pic.” I don’t mean to sound callous, but it can take some strategy to get people to follow you. The more sincere you sound, the more likely people are to check out your account.
3. Post compelling content
OK, this isn’t exactly part of the whole follow/unfollow method, but if you want people to follow you, you should post genuinely compelling content. Ultimately, the reason you’re doing this is that you want followers. People aren’t going to want to follow you if you’re not posting regularly and/or are posting crappy content. In addition to focusing on creating good content, don’t forget to interact with the people who comment on your posts!
4. Start unfollowing people on Instagram
After a few days, start going back through the list of people you follow and unfollow them. You might choose to unfollow everyone except the accounts you really love, or you might choose to just unfollow the people who never followed you back.
Apps for Following and Unfollowing on Instagram
If you are interested in using the follow and unfollow method to grow your Instagram account, you should know that it can be a time-consuming process. Putting aside time daily – likely multiple times a day – to follow, like, comment, and unfollow, all while keeping track of who you’re liking and unliking while also posting your own content, can be exhausting. Luckily, there are apps for following and unfollowing. Unfortunately, they’re not exactly sanctioned by Instagram so use them at your own peril.
A while ago, Instagram shut down all of the apps that people were using to follow and unfollow, but recently I’ve heard people recommending Jarvee. Jarvee is a social media automation tool that works on a bunch of different sites, including Instagram.
You need to have a Windows computer (it’s a program you download, not an online app), and then for $19.95 per month you can use it to manage and automate up to 10 social media accounts. For Instagram, that means you can auto-follow, auto-like, auto-unfollow, like comments, leave comments, and so much more.
I have not used Jarvee and cannot provide any support. I am not recommending it because I haven’t used it. But if you want to automate your Instagram growth, this is a tool you might want to investigate.
Click here to get a free five-day trial of Jarvee. (Again, you must have a Windows computer to use this program.)
I’ve learned about another tool that you can use for following and unfollowing, but they’ve asked that people not mention them publicly because Instagram goes after companies that aid in automation. I haven’t used this program, but it’s cheaper than Jarvee and you don’t need to own a Windows computer. If you’d like the name of the program, send me a message via the chat box in the lower right corner of this site and I’ll get you the link asap.
Why do people follow and unfollow on Instagram?
Generally speaking, someone engaging in the follow and unfollow method isn’t doing it because they do or do not like your content. They are doing it simply to try to grow their own list of followers. In the Instagram Posse Facebook group, 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. 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. Because of the aforementioned Instagram lockdown on follow and unfollow apps, finding a reliable app can be tough.
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.
An Instagram guru I really like, 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.
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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