We all know how appealing it is having a lot of followers on Instagram. That little follower count that goes up and down pretty much dictates how we behave on the popular social media app.
While your follower count may be everything to you, there’s something that could be getting in the way of you and other Instagram users enjoying a genuine following made up of real, active users. This thing is ghost followers.
For a long time, it was enough to just have a large following on the gram. As soon as someone saw that you had a substantial amount of followers, that was it – you had made it. You got more people following you, and you had companies approaching you for brand deals. These days, though, it’s a little bit more complicated.
Other Instagrammers and brands care more about engagement rate, and if you’ve got ghost followers making up a portion of your follower count, then your engagement rate is going to be average. As more and more brands look to Instagram for their next marketing campaign, it’s quality that matters more than quantity.
What Are Ghost Followers?
So, what are these ghost followers that we’re talking about? Ghost followers are inactive or fake accounts on Instagram that count as a number on your follower count, but they don’t interact with your content. The profiles themselves won’t feature any content usually, and they’re often created by bots.
If you notice that any of your followers follow a large number of people, but they themselves don’t have that many people following them, then there’s a good chance that they are a ghost follower. This means that they won’t be interacting with any of your content, keeping your engagement rate worryingly low.
While you may just have a couple of these guys weighing you down, the trouble comes when you’ve got quite a few of them. Let’s talk about this a little bit more in-depth, and go over what to do if you think you’ve been hit by the latest on Instagram.
Why Are Ghost Followers so Bad?
So, there are a number of things that we could say to justify why we don’t like ghost followers, but the biggest one has to do with your credibility – or the loss of it. It all comes down to your existing reputation, your engagement rate, and how having ghost followers can affect it.
If you currently have 20k followers on your Instagram account, but you’re only getting 50 likes per photo, then it’s going to be obvious to both Instagrammers and brands out there that your engagement rate isn’t up to par.
They’re going to question your profile’s authenticity, which is going to tarnish your reputation and credibility. Ghost followers make it incredibly difficult for anyone to work out how valuable your profile is and what your content is worth.
What is Instagram Doing About it?
You may have already heard of Instagram cracking down on bots and automation, so it should be no surprise to hear that Instagram is jumping on this bandwagon, too. In fact, as much as three years ago, Instagram was hard at work, trying to get rid of ghost followers.
As a result, they will suspend or even ban any account that they think is the product of spammy behavior. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got ghost followers intentionally or not – they have blanket rules that restrict the use of third party growth tools, and if they feel like your account falls outside of these blanket rules, you could be out.
How to Avoid Fake Followers
So, how do you avoid ghost/fake followers clinging onto your account and making you look bad, then? The good news is that there are several different methods for doing so.
Let’s check them out:
1. Don’t Buy Your Followers
It seems pretty simple, but you’d be surprised how many people think that buying their followers is going to be a good idea. Unfortunately, this is inviting ghost followers to make up your follower count, which, of course, is going to land you in a world of hurt.
Instead, try a different type of third party help. There are companies like Stellation Media and Hashtags for Likes that can help you grow your following without getting you in trouble with the gram, or sending you annoying ghost followers.
Hashtags for Likes provides an all organic service that works to build up your account authentically, while Hashtags for Likes puts all of its focus into making sure that you have the best hashtag strategy to work with.
It’s much better to work with companies like these than to opt for a company that’s just going to send you fake or inactive accounts that will do nothing but make your page look bad.
2. Don’t Buy an Existing Account
You may be tempted to give yourself a bit of a head start by buying an Instagram account that’s already got a pretty good-sized following on it. If this sounds too good to be true for you, then we’re here to tell you that it is.
If getting big on the gram and clinching those brand deals was as easy as acquiring an existing account that had an amazing follower count and engagement rate, then everyone would do it.
If you come across a company that sells whole Instagram accounts that come with an existing follower count, the vast majority of it is going to be fake.
What’s more, companies like this don’t even let you see the credentials of the account until you pay for it – another telltale sign that you’re not going to like what you see when you do hand over the cash.
3. Don’t Buy Your Comments and Likes
As tempting as purchasing your followers is, so is buying comments and likes for your content. If you already have ghost followers on your account, and you need a bit of engagement to get that engagement rate up, then you may be tempted to buy your interactions.
However, while this may make your account look fire in the short run, it’s not going to be sustainable. Simply put, it’s not going to hold your account up for longer than a day or so, and you’ll be back to where you started.
How to Get Rid of Ghost/Fake Followers
Just like there are a number of different ways to avoid fake followers finding your account and sticking to it, there are also a number of different ways to get rid of them if they’re already there. Let’s check these out:
1. Remove Them Yourself
There’s nothing like doing things the old-fashioned way, and if you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve over the next couple of days, why not see if you can’t get rid of those pesky ghost followers yourself.
Go through your follower count and see who followers you. If the account doesn’t have that many followers and doesn’t upload content regularly, then there is a good chance that they are a ghost follower.
You can also do this with your content – go through it and see who has liked your posts. If you’ve got someone following you, but they’re not engaging with your photos, then they’re most likely a fake follower.
While this is a pretty time-consuming task, it can make a bit of a dent, and at least help you know what to look out for when avoiding fake followers in the future.
2. Use a Tool
Tools such as Spamguard App can help you clean up your Instagram account, and block any future spam-like activity. Tools like these are effective cleaners for Instagram that can take care of those ghost accounts so that you don’t have to, and they can continue to work on your behalf by blocking unwanted comments and followers from people that they consider to be fake.
Tools like this can help you realize just how bad the ghost follower issue can really be, and how you can safely prevent your account from further issues down the line. What’s more, it’s an excellent time-saver, and means that you can get on with creating more awesome content that your real followers can appreciate and interact with.
Don’t worry – if you think you’re the only one that has been duped by fake followers, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, there are hundreds of thousands of Instagrammers that have been affected by this annoying wave of Instagram spam, and while the gram itself is doing everything on their end to clean things up, it’s never going to be perfect.
This is why it’s important to know what a ghost follower is, what the signs are, and how to prevent them from making your account their new home in the future.
Don’t forget to check out those helpful tools that can not only help you clean your account of ghost followers, but can also show you the right way to grow an Instagram account. Happy ghost hunting!