What are Follow Unfollow Accounts of Instagram?

You are doing everything all the blogs and influencers are telling you to do.  You are posting consistently, posting amazing images, building out your social media strategy and heck – it’s working!  Good for you! 

But during your growth journey, you’re noticing something odd within the Instagram sea of engagement . . .  you’re account seems to grow followers suddenly, and then the next day drop significantly.  But how can this be? Is it you?  Your content? Your profile?

Well, there’s some good news and bad news.  Good news is – it’s not you!  I promise, it’s not. Bad news . . . you have sailed into the sea full of creatures known as The Follow Unfollow Accounts (cue dramatic music – dun, dun dun!).

What are Follow Unfollow Accounts

These creatures live deep in the sea of Instagram and their purpose is to follow and then unfollow other accounts.  They tend to follow tons of random Instagram accounts, hoping that those they follow will follow them too, although they plan to unfollow those individuals less than 24 hours.

Why do they do it? To try to gain followers and beat the Instagram algorithm.  Instagram’s algorithm works for you based on engagement – the more engaged you are, the more your account will get “rewarded” by being seen towards to top.  So, when these accounts follow others, it creates (a false sense of) engagement for their account and hopefully, they will gain engagement in return.

Also, the follow unfollow accounts can take form in third party apps.  These apps exist only to try to create (false) engagement, for those who sign up for the app – in order to increase their followers/likes. PS – please don’t sign up for one of these apps! I can’t say this loud enough!

How to spot a Follow Unfollow account

If you aren’t sure if a Follow Unfollow Account has followed you, take these things into consideration:

  • Their followers: Do they follow a lot of people but don’t have a lot of followers themselves?
  • Their posts: Do they have activity within their profiles, such as several posts for an extended period of time?
  • Their content: Are they showing strange content within their feed that seems unrelated to anything, cluttered, without captions, random, and just odd?

Stopping Follow Unfollow Accounts

Stopping these accounts are a little tricky. Sure, you can report their account but Instagram only gives the option to notify them as “spam” or “inappropriate” – both of which don’t fit Follow Unfollow Accounts – although yes, they are annoying, they just want a large number of followers.

So what you can do (besides yell at your phone screen. Oh wait – is that just me?!) is pay more attention to the hashtags you are using.

Chances are, these accounts came to your page through the hashtags you are using.  So try to be more specific by using hashtags that have a mention number of around 300k-600k) and not the less vague hashtags (hashtags that have mentions in the millions).


So what now?

Besides double checking your hashtag strategy, if you find yourself face-to-face with some accounts that you suspect might be Follow Unfollow accounts – wait 24-48 hours.

That’s right, just wait 24-48 hours, then go back to your notifications on Instagram (the little heart icon).  Find them within your notifications, note their name and search them under your followers to see if they are still listed. If they still are, it’s possible that they are a legit account that does truly want to follow you.