Louise Pentland recently wrote a tweet (I’d link to it but it’s since been deleted – boo!) that I think many bloggers resonated with. In the success for followers so many of us have been happy to accept that some are perhaps not as genuine as we might have liked (both done with intent and unintentionally).
I’d never been great on Instagram – and I probably never will be. In fact, there are so many different things for bloggers to ‘be active on’ you can probably be forgiven for not being as active (or good) as you should be on one or two of them. So, when I heard about Instagress a legitimate ‘bot’ like service similar to BoardBooster or Tailwind for Pinterest I signed up.
Instagress was able to comment a various number of phrases on images with particular tags (factors of which I would set personally to ensure I was targeting the correct audience) incrementally over time. This meant that I didn’t need to spend 4 hours a day liking and commenting on photos – Great! Unsurprisingly, the result of the engagement meant that I gained more followers and for the time being at least more engagement on the photos I was posting.
Early in 2017, Instagram politely asked Instagress to shut down, to which they obliged. My Instagram sat pretty stale for six months or so… I posted photos like any ‘average’ Instagram user would with a limited number of tags and little thought. Despite my 3,000 or so followers, I was getting less than 30 likes on a photo.
Trying To Get Better At Instagram
Post one of my favourite blogging conferences BlogOn I was feeling particularly enthusiastic about Instagram. I wanted to make the effort again and knew the only way was for me to spend the time manually engaging and creating content that was ‘Instagram worthy’.
Posting on Instagram regularly
Instagram stories on a regular basis
Following other users in my niche
I even liked photos that we’re trending both on Instagram and within my hashtags
What I’m saying is… I did EVERYTHING I should have been doing to grow my following and increase my engagement on Instagram. However, I was still finding my account was stagnant. The same 100 or so Instagram accounts were engaging with my content, the remainder of which was dead in the water.
That’s when I decided to do something more drastic.
Deleting Instagram Followers
I looked into removing, deleting, blocking (whatever you want to call it) users who were ‘ghost following’ or had profiles that we’re no longer active. It’s something most Instagram-lovers would hate, but honestly, my slight OCD and need for the organisation told me to look past the numbers (no matter how much brands seem to only look at the numbers) and instead take one giant step back to run ten steps forward so to speak.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I installed an iPhone app called ‘Cleaner’ they allowed me to filter out 100 or so spam accounts and more than 3,000 accounts that hadn’t engaged with a single one of my photo’s in more than 30 days.
In order for Instagram not to think I’d;
One: Gone Mad
Two: Had become a robot and block the account
I had to block my followers around 80 at a time. Luckily the Cleaner application creates the blocks of ‘80’ or so accounts for you so you simply need to click a button every couple of hours to remove 80 or so accounts.
Since then I found out it’s actually blocked some people who may not have engaged with my content but I do want to keep following / them following me. Personal friends etc. So I’ve had to go in and manually unblock them. Do be sure to check who you’re blocking before confirming the block so you don’t have the awkward moment when someone asks why you blocked them on Instagram.
The entire process took me around three weeks (I forgot to do it a couple more times than I would like) and left me with a little under 160 followers. Post-clean I decided to remove all of my old Instagram photos and once again start fresh.
The Results Of Deleting My Instagram Followers
Three weeks since the ‘refresh’ and I’ve posted 23 photos. The best has had 85 likes, the worst 19 with an average of somewhere around the mid-30’s.
That’s around as many likes as I got when I had 3,000 more followers than I do today.
What I Hope Others Will Learn From This
So, what can we learn from this?
More and more people are saying “Engagement Matters” this couldn’t be truer. However, for this to really resonate it’s going to take brands to look at only engagement when looking to work with bloggers and influences on campaigns. For as long as they continue to ask for a follower count that’s exactly what people are going to chase – and I’m a living example that to very much certain extent followers mean nothing.
Yes, I know you need some to get the engagement but you know…
For as long as influences like this one; (whether intentional or unintentionally) continue to get campaigns bloggers and influences are going to continue chasing followers, ghost or otherwise.
As for me, despite not using Instagress and continuing to manually peruse Instagram engagement I’m still going to use cleaner once a month to get rid of those accounts that are no longer engaging with my profile. I hope by doing this my account will grow at a faster rate than it would have done if I’d have kept the ghost followers and I won’t face such heartbreak when blocking followers in the future.
As always, I’d love to know what you think. Did you use Instagress? Do you have low engagement on Instagram? What have you found works for you? Let me know in the comments below.