With Instagram, it’s easy to assume that the more followers you have, the better. But this is not always the case.
In fact, Creative Impact Collective, a consulting membership for small business owners, recently deleted 20,000 of its Instagram followers. That’s a quarter of his followers.
And why? Because after a quality check of his account, the founder made a startling discovery: his engagement rate – the percentage of followers who engage with his posts – was just 0.1%. In contrast, the average engagement rate for an Instagram business profile is 4.7%.
The problem? Many of the followers did not like their content and did not comment on it. But not just because they were infrequent users or weren’t interested in their posts – thousands weren’t real followers at all. These were fake accounts created by bots. Basically, they were ghosts.
Meanwhile, almost all accounts on Instagram have ghost followers, which can damage credibility and lower engagement rates.
What are Ghost Followers?
Ghost followers are inactive or fake Instagram accounts that may be following you and contributing to your total follower count. However, they never interact with your content.
Sometimes these accounts are created by real people who simply do not use their account. However, they are often social bots that are not backed by real users.
These accounts exist because people are willing to pay for followers, which has created a market for follower accounts. However, all these fake followers need to be created, and this process is often automated.
Just because you didn’t buy them doesn’t mean these fakes aren’t lurking in your follower count. In 2019, the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance conducted an audit of 100 of the most successful Instagram accounts and found that up to half of all accounts following celebrities like Taylor Swift, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ariana Grande weren’t real at all.
“All major Instagram profiles have some percentage of ghost followers,” says David Dundas, founder of influencer marketing agency HelloConvo. He estimates that 10 to 20% of brand account followers are fakes.
What are their consequences?
If all you care about is the number of Instagram followers you have, ghost followers won’t hurt your account. You may even be grateful for the increase. However, if you are an influencer or manage a brand account like Giovanetti, these fake followers can potentially harm you.
Damage to credibility
Nowadays, anyone on Instagram can give the impression of being influential by buying a few thousand followers. However, it’s not uncommon for companies to analyze an account’s followers to make sure they’re partnering with a real person or brand that can generate a worthwhile return on investment.
“When we evaluate influencers on behalf of brands, we use sophisticated tools to understand the makeup of their audience,” Dundas says. “We also do a spot check by looking at the comments on the posts and taking a quick look at the followers to see if they are genuine or not. If something looks weird or there are no real conversations going on in the comments, we probably won’t engage with the influencer.
Since Instagram users are typically paid based on the size of their audience, companies that work with businesses and influencers who have fake followers are often paying to reach people who don’t even exist. A report from cybersecurity firm Cheq estimates that fake followers will cost brands $1.3 billion in 2019 alone.
That’s why companies like social media marketing firm Hello Society now include a clause in their contracts that addresses Instagram ghost followers.
So when you’re working with other brands, it’s important to make sure your followers are genuine so you can build and maintain an honest and mutually beneficial partnership.
Reduction of the engagement rate
Instagram ghost followers can make your content seem less engaging because fake followers don’t interact with your content. For example, let’s say you have 10,000 followers, but you only get 30 likes per photo. In this case, it’s obvious at first glance to any savvy Instagram user that your interaction rate is incredibly low.
An account with a lot of followers but little engagement probably has a lot of ghosts contributing to that high follower count. And if your posts don’t get enough attention from followers, they certainly won’t attract advertisers.
To calculate your account’s engagement rate, divide the number of likes and comments your 10 most recent posts received by the number of followers you have. Then multiply the value by 100. (Engagement rate = Likes + Comments ÷ Followers x 100)
You can also monitor your engagement rate using Instagram analytics.
Instagram’s algorithm predicts what kind of posts users want to see in their feeds based on the posts they have previously liked and commented on. And content is more likely to be viewed depending on how engaging it is.
So if your brand announces a new product and the post generates a lot of interactions, the algorithm is likely to place that post in your followers’ feeds. This could also land him on Instagram’s coveted Explore page, where users are recommended posts from accounts they don’t follow.
A post that doesn’t get many likes or comments, on the other hand, has less reach because Instagram’s algorithm classifies it as less relevant to users’ interests.
If your account has a lot of ghost followers who don’t engage with your content, this lack of interaction will affect the visibility of your post. Not only is it less likely to appear in the feeds of your fake followers, but it is also less likely to appear in the feeds of your other followers.
This can lead to a vicious cycle: Your engagement rate drops, so fewer people see your content. And the fewer users see your posts, the more your engagement rate drops.
Remove Ghost Follower
Basically, you can always remove Ghost Followers manually by going through and evaluating all of them individually. However, this is an enormous amount of work and unrealistic in terms of time for larger accounts. Therefore, we recommend the use of an app.
There are a lot of apps for removing ghost followers. However, the current best by far on the market is ghostfollower.app. This web application allows granular by over 12 filters. Identify ghost followers and also unfollow them automatically-.
The only way to prevent bots and fakes from following your Instagram account is to set your profile to private, so you have to approve every new follower. For brands, of course, this is not an option. However, there are steps you can take – or not take – to keep ghost followers to a minimum.
Do not buy followers
Paying for followers is basically buying ghost followers. So you should forgo this temptation and focus on growing your Instagram following organically.
Follower should not buy in any case. This will forever affect your performance in the Instagram algorithm.
Instead, he recommends making “audience reactivation” part of your ongoing social strategy. “Reply to all comments on your posts, engage daily with existing followers by leaving comments on their posts, and engage with new accounts in your niche that don’t follow you. This creates authentic conversations that send positive signals to the Instagram algorithm and increase your engagement rate.”
Need a little help engaging users and gaining new followers? Try a third-party service like Autogramer that can help you grow your following with real people – not ghosts.
Do not buy Instagram accounts
There are companies that sell Instagram accounts that already have followers, but buying an existing account doesn’t really give you a head start. Most likely, all these followers are exactly the kind of accounts you want to avoid: Bot-created accounts.
No commitment Buy
Instead of taking the time to manually delete all those ghost followers, some users are opting to improve their engagement rates by buying likes, comments, and Instagram story views. While this may improve your metrics in the short term, it’s not a sustainable practice, and soon you’ll be back where you started.
One of the most important metrics on Instagram is engagement rate. However, one of the biggest obstacles to this are inactive followers, so-called ghost followers. These should be avoided at all costs. That’s why we never recommend buying account, followers or engagement.
However, if it happened, you can remove them by tedious manual work or you can use a software for this purpose such as the
Ghost Follower App