Complete Guide To Spotting Instagram Ghost Followers

Table of Contents

Instagram accounts are often valued by how many followers they have. However, more isn’t always better so sometimes you actually need to be removing followers to help boost your account. This might seem counter-intuitive but removing ghost followers on Instagram will have a considerable impact on your reach and engagement. What’s a ghost follower and how do you identify them correctly without accidentally deleting real followers? Keep reading to find out.

WHAT ARE GHOST FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM?

Ghost followers are accounts that do not interact with your content therefore dropping your engagement and reach. Here it’s important to distinguish between accounts that see your content and just don’t feel like interacting and those who are dead or inactive and will never interact. These are the type of ghost followers you want to be removing because they’re not helping your account. I explained some of the different types of ghost followers below although they are commonly either inactive or simply spam accounts.

WHY SHOULD YOU BE REMOVING INSTAGRAM GHOST FOLLOWERS?

The main reason why you should be removing Instagram ghost followers is to increase your reach. When you post a new photo on Instagram the algorithm shows it to your own followers first to see how they interact with your content. If you’re getting a lot of likes, shares, comments and saves from your followers Instagram will assume that your content is good and will show it to more and more people. This means that if your followers consist of a lot of ghost followers who won’t interact the algorithm won’t give your post the reach it deserves. By removing ghost followers you’ll boost your reach and help your account grow an audience.

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BE SCARED OF DROPPING YOUR FOLLOWER NUMBERS

It’s very scary to delete your own followers. It’s a very counter intuitive practise when all you’re trying to do is grow that number. It’s definitely painful to drop it back to where you were a few months ago and almost feels like you’re reversing everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Under no circumstances can you think of it that way though. Your ghost followers are a fake number that is added on top of your following. They don’t exist and are only making it harder for you to grow. Having fake followers does nothing at all because engagement is the only thing that really counts. It doesn’t matter at all if you have 500 or 1000 or 5000 Instagram followers. If your post engagement is bad you won’t have any benefits.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN INCREASE INSTAGRAM REACH

There are so many ways you can increase your Instagram reach it can be difficult to keep track. Luckily we came up with a complete list of 44 things you should be doing today if you want to boost your Instagram reach. This includes things like adding a meta description to your posts and posting Instagram reels.

Are you doing everything to boost your reach and it’s still low for no reason? Here are 12 things you should avoid at all costs if you want to increase Instagram reach. You might be making easy-to-fix mistakes without evening knowing it.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INSTAGRAM REACH AND ENGAGEMENT?

Instagram reach and engagement are often confused. While they’re closely related, they’re not actually the same and it’s important to know how they interact if you want to increase both. Here is a complete guide to how Instagram reach and engagement work and how you can manipulate them to help grow your account.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF GHOST FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM

Most people define ghost followers as fake or inactive accounts that do not engage with your content. While this is definitely true I like to go one step further and categorise the different types of ghost followers since you can’t treat them all the same. While inactive ghost followers are some of the worst to have there are actually other types that are just as bad but are often missed by people cleaning out their Instagram accounts. One thing they all have in common is that they do not interact with your content and most likely never will. Try to let go of the fear of accidentally removing a follower who could engage with your content in the future. The chances are slim and even if out of 100 ghost followers that you remove there are a handful of real ones that slip in accidentally the damage is limited. If you find accounts in your followers that match the following criteria you can safely remove them without a second thought.

SPAM ACCOUNTS

Spam accounts are a very common type of ghost follower that you’ll come across frequently. These Instagram accounts weren’t created to be used normally but either as a mostly inactive second account or as a way of selling something or scamming Instagram users. This might include accounts that sell you fake followers, send out spammy messages or follow thousands of people just to refer them to a main account as a way of gaining followers. A common phenomenon for this are accounts that will send you a message as a “brand manager” promising free products for a promotion. These types of accounts will never interact with your content and are some of the worst ghost followers you can have since they are not connected to a real person.

EMPTY ACCOUNTS

When you’re on the hunt for ghost followers, empty accounts will be the easiest to spot. These are accounts that haven’t posted any photos (or maybe only one or two a long time ago). They are usually following a lot of people and don’t have very many followers themselves. Bonus points if they don’t even have a profile picture or bio. Again, these types of accounts are not created to be used properly. They won’t interact with your content and should be deleted immediately once you find them.

FOLLOWING TOO MANY PEOPLE

This is where it gets tricky. The previous two types of ghost followers are really easy to spot and can be removed without a second thought. However, sometimes ghost followers can also be real accounts that don’t necessarily look suspicious at first glance. If you see that one of your followers is following thousands of other people the chances of your content appearing in their news feed are very slim. This usually only applies to people who follow more than 6k or 7k accounts which is a point where they just won’t be able to interact anymore. Be careful with removing these types of Instagram ghost followers though. If you’re unsure double-check if they’ve liked any of your recent posts. This is a tedious way to go about it so try to focus on other types of ghost followers first. However, in most cases, any account that follows that many people tends to have other red flags as well so you’ll be able to spot the obvious ones quickly.

INACTIVE ACCOUNTS

Again, not all inactive accounts are ghost followers. If someone follows you but they haven’t posted in a year then obviously their account is still active or they’re at least still engaging. Not everyone who uses Instagram actually posts all the time so it’s worth giving them a chance. However, if you come across an old account which hasn’t posted in at least a few years you can most likely remove them, especially if they only have a handful of pictures. Again, be careful with this strategy and don’t remove too many accounts.

ACCOUNTS OUTSIDE OF YOUR NICHE

This is another tricky category of Instagram ghost followers. People disagree on whether you should be removing followers that are not from your niche. I think it can have some benefits and I do remove accounts that have nothing to do with my niche occasionally. This applies mostly to business accounts that are also looking to build an online community which means they won’t be interested in my content but rather are trying to push their own. That’s no problem at all but it’s helping neither of you if you follow each other without actually interacting.

For example, I don’t remove accounts of hotels, tour operators, photographers or of course fellow bloggers (even if they’re not from my direct niche) because they fit broadly in the category of what I post and what my own business is about so they will benefit from my posts and I might benefit from theirs. However, I would for example remove a construction company that followed me or a baby clothing store. They don’t fit my niche at all so I don’t expect them to engage with my content. I usually don’t immediately remove these accounts when they first follow me though but rather give them a chance since you never know. I have had some surprises in the past where very absurd accounts became a very active part of my community. This usually happens right away though and if they haven’t interacted after a few weeks or months it’s safe to say that they probably won’t in the future.

MY TIPS ON HOW TO FIND GHOST FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM

Unfortunately, Instagram is very stingy with the amount of data and insights they give you about your followers. There is no way you can filter who interacts with your content directly on Instagram. You’ll have to download a third-party app to get this data. This is where the problems begin. I myself have had great experiences using third-party apps in the past. They will give you a complete list of accounts that have never liked or commented on your photos and even a list of those that always do. However, Instagram does not like you using third-party apps at all and has harsh punishments for those that are caught. You could be using an app for years (like me) and nothing happens but sometimes Instagram seems to randomly ban accounts for that reason. I have now stopped using any follow-tracking apps because, in my opinion, it’s just too risky. If you try it is up to you but I don’t think it’s a good idea as Instagram seems to be getting better and better at catching people.

This unfortunately means that the only way to find ghost followers is to manually sort through your following list on Instagram. Of course, this is a lot more time consuming but it’ll be worth it. I like to start by scrolling through quickly and clicking on any accounts that don’t have a profile picture (or a really weird one). This is really quick and easy and will help you filter out a lot of ghost followers in no time. After that, you’ll have to take a bit more time and click on any accounts that have a lot of numbers in their name which is also a good way to spot ghost followers. If you filter out these two types of ghost followers you’ll most likely already be good to go.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BE REMOVING GHOST FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM?

Removing ghost followers can be a lot of work and luckily once you get it done once you won’t have to worry about it for a while. I try to check new accounts that follow me to see whether they could be a potential ghost follower candidate. I immediately remove spam or empty accounts which saves me a lot of time later on.

You don’t need to find every single ghost follower to increase your reach. If you miss some then that’s absolutely fine. I try to look for ghost followers whenever I’m bored or have a few free minutes on the app. This happens around once a week (usually just for 10-15 minutes). About once a month I try to sit down for around an hour or so and properly look for ghost followers. It really depends how much time you have and it’s not that important how often you do it as long as you don’t forget about it completely.

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Hi, I'm Victoria

I’m 24 years old and grew up in Germany. Right now I’m studying at a university in Scotland and am about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Full-time travel is my dream and I’ve spent the last few years slowly building my online business. Guide your Travel is technically a travel blog, but I also write about photography, social media and how you can start blogging. Don’t forget to check out my destination guides and travel tips.

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