Does Follow/Unfollow Work on Instagram?

How to Beat Follow/Unfollow on Instagram 2018 - Instagram Marketing Instagram Tips Social Media Marketing

There's one thing I've heard one thing loud and freaking clear, over and over. There's something that you HATE on Instagram: the Follow Unfollow strategy. Have you heard of it? It's the sleaziest, ickiest, grossest feeling growth strategy out there, but people use it. Let's be honest, though, whatever the platform is, there's always going to be people doing things a little bit then everybody agrees with. To tell you the truth, it's not just happening right now. It's been happening for years. Here's what you can do about it.


The truth: Follow/Unfollow doesn't work anymore.

Imagine this. It is a Tuesday night. You're in your comfies laying on the couch watching the new episode of Vanderpump Rules, and all the sudden you think of a great Instagram post. You find the perfect picture, write an incredible caption, make sure to follow all the best practices and include all your hashtags.

You hit post and you're feeling pretty dang good. As you sit there watching VPR, you start to notice your phone is blowing up. This post is doing super, super well. You're getting a bunch of likes, you're getting a bunch of comments and even better, you're seeing a bunch of new followers.

You feel like a queen. You dust your shoulders off and head to bed. When you wake up in the morning, however, you're not feeling so boss-like... when you check your phone, you see that, even though it looked like you got maybe 20 new followers last night, you only have two new followers overall today.

WTF is up with that? There must be a mistake on Instagram, right? The calculations don't add up.

Unfortunately, a lot of the people who followed you then unfollowed you. What's going on?

Why are people doing this and what can we do to stop them? More importantly, doesn't even matter?

I am a huge advocate for not letting social media get you too ruffled up, although I'll be honest with you, it has definitely bugged me on some occasions.

At the end of the day, I do think what's most important is to remember that social media is a means to an end. As somebody who does social media as a professional, I make my living doing this and I can say with 100 percent confidence and clarity that this is not what is important. Yes, we can utilize social media to make our businesses thrive, but all that's really doing is setting us up for a better life offline.


The idea behind follow/unfollow is that someone follows you knowing that you that will get a notification with their name on it. They're hoping that when you get that notification, you'll click on their name and fall into their little trap and hit the follow button next to them. Really, the follow is just to get in someone's notifications to get them to follow you. Right after they follow you, they're unfollowing you immediately.


Two different types of people who might be using follow/unfollow:

  • Robots and spam accounts

  • People who are desperate for growth (#thirsty)

The good news is that robots will never, ever engage with your account in a meaningful way. Robots will never, ever buy into your offering or service. Robots aren't ever going to do anything for your business. So who cares if they unfollow and follow us? We don't want them there in the first place.

The second kind of people who might use the follow and unfollow technique are those who don't give an f. They want to grow their account at all costs. They're desperate. They don't know what to do. They're probably confused and a little bit overwhelmed. They just want to get more followers.


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Unfortunately, as long as there's Instagram, there's probably going to be people who follow and unfollow, so it's going to be up to us to figure out how to move past it.

1. Don't use huge hashtags.

When you use really big hashtags (any hashtag that has over a million posts to it), something like #coffee, #love, #wellness, #summer, anything with over a million followers, it's going to be a magnet for follow/unfollows. This is because the two types of people who are using that technique love searching these hashtags. They troll them because there are so many, so many posts per minute that they're able to just cruise right on through the list. If you want to avoid getting the follow/unfollow, stop using hashtags with over a million post to them. Try to stay between 5,000 and 500,000.

2. Be careful about who you follow back.

That's not to say to be a total wiener, but think about it a little bit. If somebody follows you and their account doesn't look very legit or feels like a random business (i.e. somebody whose name is @igfollowers17938791), think twice about tapping that follow button.

These people are going to be a magnet for these types of trolls and people who will follow unfollow all day long. Focus on the quality, not the quantity of followers that you're getting.

3. Connect with real people.

The more that you can improve the quality of followers you have on your Instagram account, the better it's going to be. Eventually, your account is going to get so bumpin', it won't even matter if people are following and un-following. What will matter is the amazing people who come in droves to your posts and want to talk to you in a real genuine way.

Have you noticed the follow/unfollow technique? Does it drive you crazy? Let's start a conversation about it – I want to hear all your thoughts.


Chris Emmer

Graphic Designer / Branding and Social Media Strategist / Yoga + Meditation Guide / Your New BFF.

West Michigan based, small business + wellness obsessed.