October 28, 2020
TL; DR: Don’t be fooled by what others say; it does NOT work!
If you’ve been trying to hack Instagram and gain more followers, there is one method that seems like a no brainer. Follow dozens, if not hundreds, of accounts in your niche and then unfollow them a couple of days later.
Called the follow-unfollow method, it has been touted as the best way to grow your follower numbers over the years.
Yes, it is true that lately, Instagram has cracked down on accounts who make use of the technique. Yet, armchair experts keep recommending it to new creators.
We’ve always been skeptical of hacks, and this one was no different. So, to settle the debate once and for all, we decided to give it a whirl!
How does follow-unfollow work on Instagram?
- Find as many accounts as you can, correlated to your niche.
- Tap follow on each of these accounts.
- This will send a notification to each account holder.
- Chances are they will take a look at your profile.
- They might follow you back because they love your content (or simply because they feel it is the polite thing to do).
- Let a few days pass by.
- Then unfollow all these accounts, irrespective of if they followed back or not.
In the end, your following to follower ratio remains healthy, giving you the boost you wanted. In an ideal world, the technique is sound. But in the real world, it faces a few glitches.
The drawbacks of the follow-unfollow hack
Instagram wants its users to pay to increase their reach. So, any ‘hack’ you use to grow your account is not what they want.
Because if you use a shortcut, you don’t have to buy an ad from Instagram to get in front of a new audience. It is why when the platform discovers an account using the follow-unfollow method, they action-block it.
What is action-block?
You can not do anything with your account such as liking, commenting, or following. This happens when Instagram feels you’re interacting more than average in an hour or a day.
It could be a few hours or some days. That depends upon how harsh a penalty Instagram gives you. At times, the platform may even think of deleting your account!
What happens to reach and engagement when you use the follow-unfollow method?
Not good things, that we can assure you of.
Let’s say you have about 2k followers. You start following about 20 or so accounts manually in a day.
You could use bots for the follow-unfollow method. But they tend to attract unwanted attention, which you don’t want. Plus, doing it yourself is free.
When you follow less number of accounts per day, you won’t get action-blocked. But you won’t see the followers increasing too.
It’s when you start to follow 2 dozen people every hour that you’ll gain followers—about 200+ every week.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Your followers will rise, but your engagement rate will go down. Why? Because the number of likes you get is still the same, even though the follower number has increased.
Thinking it is still worth it as long as you can reach around 4k followers in a few weeks?
Because when you stop using the follow-unfollow method, your engagement rate will go down the dumps:
- If you were averaging 300+ likes on a photo, you’d see less than 80.
- Moreover, sooner than later, you’ll start losing followers.
- You won’t crop up on the explore page.
- You won’t rank on hashtags.
- Your account will become dead.
Even posting more content or curating better content won’t bring back your engagement!
Should you use the follow-unfollow method on Instagram?
It is a shortcut. Even if it does help you get more followers right now, it is of no help in the long run. Any creator who truly wants to grow and use Instagram as their platform should invest in better and authentic techniques.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t apply the hack:
- Once you stop, your account will have 0 post visibility.
- You may have a bigger following now, but it will drop.
- Your engagement will be laughable.
If you don’t want to get penalized, you need to continue using the trick. But then, if Instagram catches you red-handed, the punishment may be even more severe.
Moreover, even if you continue with the hack the growth of followers will stagnate after some time.
In short, it is a tight rope walk. You can’t follow too many people in a day, or you’ll get banned. You can’t follow too few accounts in a day, or you won’t get more followers. Lastly, you can’t scale the follow-unfollow method. The cost of applying the trick is too high. It does more harm than good.
We bid you adieu with a caveat: all budding creators (read: less than 1K followers) can use the follow-unfollow method on Instagram. It will give you the exposure required to gain traction. But try to follow genuine accounts that will help you mature as a creator.