Instagram Ghost Followers – How to Remove Fake Followers on Instagram
Note – March 30th, 2018: You can no longer download your Ghost Followers using Crowdbabble.
Please check out Crowdbabble for social media analytics and reports.
You spend an hour crafting the perfect Instagram post, you hit the “share” button and then you wait anxiously for the likes and comments to start rolling in. Just like the good ol’ days.
But something has changed. You no longer receive the same level of engagement that you used to. Things are different now and have been this way for a while. You’re working hard on your social game and you’re putting out some of the best content that you’ve ever created. But the results are headed in the opposite direction.
If this sounds like your situation, then it’s possible that you’re a victim of ghost followers.
What is a ghost follower?
It’s not as spooky as it sounds – but it’s definitely scary from a marketing perspective. An Instagram ghost follower is basically an inactive Instagram account that follows you. Inactive can be defined in a number of ways, but here’s how most Crowdbabble users define it:
A ghost follower is an Instagram account that follows you but never actively engages with you (i.e. never likes or comments on any of your Instagram content).
Should I be afraid of ghost followers?
For some people, ghost followers aren’t a major issue. Even though ghost followers don’t engage with you, they’re still considered followers and are included in your follower count. Some people just want their follower count to be as high as possible. In this case, ghost followers are perfectly acceptable and in fact even desired.
There are tons of cases of influencers and even celebrities that have purchased followers in an attempt to make themselves look more popular than they really are. Purchased followers will most likely be ghost followers – usually spam accounts that are created by bots. There are signs that can tell you if an account is a ghost follower, which we’ll get into later in this post.
A bunch of services have popped up offering Instagram users the ability to buy more followers. These services operate in a controversial grey area and violate Instagram’s Terms of Service. In order words, you’re not supposed to buy Instagram followers.
Can ghost followers be harmful?
For serious marketers, high follower numbers alone are not enough. For example, Instagram influencers need to be able to drive engagement through their content to attract advertisers. Celebrities with high follower counts need to generate engagement so that they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. In the case of agencies and consultants, their clients are paying for more than just an increase in follower counts.
For these social media and content marketing professionals, other metrics take center stage – such as engagement or engagement rate. In these cases, ghost followers are a major hindrance to success.
Lets do some basic analysis. We’ll keep the numbers simple.
Lets say you had 10,000 followers throughout January, and on average you received 1,000 engagements per post (900 likes per post and 100 comments per post). Your average post engagement rate in January would be 10% (1,000 engagements/10,000 followers).
Then on Feb 1st, you bought 40,000 followers. So now you have 50,000 followers! However, those 40,000 new followers are ghost followers. They don’t engage because they’re not even real humans – they’re ghosts! This means the amount of engagement you’ll get on your content will not change drastically -> lets assume you continue to receive 1,000 engagements per post throughout February.
Now your average post engagement rate for February would plummet to 2% (1,000 engagements/50,000 followers).
Should I care if ghost followers impact my engagement rate?
Instagram cares. So you should too. Historically, your Instagram feed was composed of posts in appearing in reverse chronological order. There were no exceptions to this rule.
However, when Instagram introduced their new news feed algorithm, the order of photos and videos in your feed were rearranged based on the likelihood that you’d be interested in the content. One of the most important factors that Instagram considers when displaying your content: how engaging that piece of content really is. In fact, people miss on average 70% of the content in their feeds!
So, which piece of content would Instagram favour? A post that gets 10% or one that gets 2%? Well, it also depends on a number of other factors such as your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. But assuming all these other factors were the same between 2 posts, Instagram would favour the post with the higher engagement rate.
Back to our example. Your engagement rate has dropped to 2%, so now it is less likely to appear in the news feed of your followers because Instagram is showing your content to less people than before. This means less people are going to engage. Your engagement rate will drop again -> even less people will see it -> your engagement rate will drop yet again -> lesser and less people will see it. It’s a vicious cycle AKA the ghost followers snowball effect.
Darn those ghost followers.
It’s time to hit ’em with your proton pack and send them back to wherever they came from.
How to find and remove ghost followers?
If you find yourself in the above situation, don’t fret! Whether you’ve purchased followers or not, you’ve probably acquired ghost followers through no fault of your own.
Some of your followers have likely said “to hell with Instagram, I’m moving to Snapchat”, or something along those lines.
Also, the bots out there are tenacious – they’ll follow you and mock you like the marshmallow man himself.
You can start identifying ghost followers by looking for users who have the following:
- 0 followers
- 0 posts
- No profile picture
- High ratio of people they follow to followers
- 0 posts in the last 30 days
- 0 posts in the last 60 days
- Username filled with random numbers
If you have a small follower count, you should be able to do this manually by going through all your Instagram followers one at a time.
If you have a large follower count, we have you covered with Ghostbabble (powered by Crowdbabble of course).
Ghostbabble will identify all your ghost followers for you. Then you can block them, which will remove them from your followers list. It’s really simple to get started:
- Go to Ghostbabble
- Connect your Instagram account and follow the instructions
- Bid farewell to your ghost followers as you parade down the streets
(confetti is optional, but highly recommended)