Instagram has a user base that has climbed up to over 800 million active accounts since it’s launch in 2010 and as a top social platform shows no sign of stopping there. Just as one might assume however, a percentage of those 800 million users are not actual people utilizing the platform but are bots or other fake accounts created for a variety of (not so great) profit driven purposes.
Fake users/followers do more harm than good and in the long run can be rather destructive to your account, your reputation, and your brand or business overall. Fake follower counts trick people into thinking they have a greater reach than they actually do and disservice brands by directing them to the wrong influencers for promoting their products or services. Check out our article on the dark side of social media here for a closer look at what we’re talking about.
Consider viewing fake accounts as you would an unhealthy bacteria or unwanted illness, a virus that could infect your whole system if you’re not careful. Choosing to see these “users” in this way will help demonstrate the importance of keeping your account clear of them and will help build your brand’s following in an organic, healthy, and sustainable way. Sometimes fake users make their way into your follower count whether through conscious decision or involuntary happenstance and thus a detox is in order. A full system cleanse or purge if you will to get yourself back into position for lasting success and real, valuable engagement.
That being said, a fake follower check and Instagram detox whether for your account or someone else’s, doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be nearly as intense or time consuming as a cleanse you might do for your body or even your computer. Clearing your account of fake followers is really rather simple with just a bit of proper guidance.
Most important is first, knowing exactly what to look for.
10 things to look for when conducting your Instagram detox, the “Fake Follower Purge” Checklist:
Engagement rate: If someone has 11,000 followers but only 3 comments and 4 likes on every post, this could mean that a large portion of their followers are fake or at least inactive/unengaged on the platform.
Who is engaging with posts: If a majority of someone’s post engagement is coming from non-followers, this could mean that their follower base is either inactive or untrustworthy.
Follower floods: If someone suddenly gains 10,000 new followers overnight, there’s a good possibility those followers are fake.
Follower droughts: Similarly, if you see that an account suddenly lost 10,000 followers overnight, this could mean that Instagram deactivated a lot of their fake followers.
Location of followers: If an account’s followers don’t relate in some way to their own location and account theme, those followers might have been paid for. For example, if an account is for a local restaurant based out of Atlanta and most of their followers are from Russia, that should be a red flag.
Account content: If an account’s followers don’t have any posts themselves, haven’t posted in years, or don’t even have a profile picture, those followers are most likely fake or hacked inactive accounts.
Usernames: While it may not be as common, accounts with suspicious usernames like “@ifollow4u” are a pretty good indicator of a fake user.
Number of private accounts: Random follows from private accounts with small or non-existent followings could be a sign that those accounts are trying to hide the fact that they’re actually fake.
Character of followers: If a chef from Chicago is mostly being followed by Spanish supermodels and Russian bodybuilders, there’s a good chance that those followers were purchased.
Who they follow: If an account’s followers are followed by or are following “fan-buying” services, this could mean that they themselves are bots or fake accounts.
How to “purge” your account of fake followers:
Now that you know how to spot phoney users and fake followers it’s time to clear these accounts from yours. The process of actually removing fake followers from your account is easy. Thankfully Instagram has now made it possible to remove followers without blocking them or having to go private first in order to do so.
- First you will want to make a list (screenshots with highlights or circles work too) of all the fake followers you want to remove. This will help you make sure all the followers flagged during your check actually get removed your account.
- Tap on the “followers” text displayed at the top of your Instagram profile. This will open up a list of all the users following your account.
- Tap on the 3 dots to the right of the “Follow” button across from each flagged user and choose “Remove”.
- That’s it! Enjoy your clean and clear Instagram account.
How to avoid fake followers in the first place:
Doing an Instagram detox is one way to clean up your follower base. Another faster and much simpler way is to avoid accumulating fake followers to begin with.
The majority of people who end up with this problem of fake followers find themselves there as a result of buying followers in bulk from sketchy services online with no regard for what those followers look like.
Taking the time to create content relevant to your brand or account theme and selectively engaging with your target audience is the surest way to avoid funneling a mass of fake followers to your account. If you’re not sure how you would find the time to do so with your busy schedule there are alternatives outside of buying followers that will help you quickly grow your following with real, active and engaged users. The best alternative by far is the use of automation or an organic growth optimization service like Social Sensei.
Automation takes all the things you would normally do to organically grow your following on Instagram, such as liking, following, commenting and DMing, and does it much quicker (and debatably more accurately). Doing so means you’re still attracting real, interested people to your account and at a rate comparable to that of buying followers in bulk. Best of all, this means you’re building a following that doesn’t require you to constantly perform a fake follower check and do an Instagram detox to clean up your account in the future.
Sound appealing? Sign up for your FREE 5-day trial of Social Sensei service and see the results for yourself! We look forward to helping your organically accelerate your account growth and start building a shining reputation for your brand.