TL; DR: Don’t be fooled by what others say. The follow/unfollow method 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. With 2023 just around the corner, we wanted to know if this Instagram etiquette of follow/unfollow really works or not.
The verdict on the follow/unfollow method and if it works for new creators?
Yes, Instagram has indeed cracked down on accounts that make use of the technique. Yet, armchair experts keep recommending it to new creators. We’ve always been sceptical of hacks, and this one was no different. So, to settle the debate once and for all, we decided to give it a whirl!
What is the follow-unfollow hack?
It’s exactly what the name suggests. You follow people for some time and then unfollow them to inflate their numbers. Here’s what you do:
- 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.
What’s the result? In an ideal world, you’d gain more followers – the holy grail of all content creators everywhere. In the real world, the Instagram etiquette of follow/unfollow faces quite a handful of glitches and rarely gives you a healthy following to follower ratio.
Why is the follow-unfollow hack not a good strategy in 2023?
The follow and then unfollow technique sounds sound. But it is not a good strategy for a lot of reasons. For one, you could end up following random people who might not help the community you’re building. And remember, for a creator, a loyal community is the most important piece.
You can get action-blocked.
When Instagram discovers an account using the follow-unfollow method, they action-block it. What is an action block? When you are action-blocked, you cannot 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 some hours or a few days. That depends upon how harsh a penalty Instagram gives you. At times, the platform may even think of deleting your account!
How to stay within the Instagram follow limit in 2023?
There are times when creators genuinely want to follow more people than usual. If such a moment happens to you, remember to remain within limits. The Instagram follow limit per hour for 2023 is 200. Follow more and you can get banned or disabled. The follow limit on Instagram per day is 1000 accounts.
A safe strategy to not cross the following limit is to tap back on 50 people an hour and 200 in a day, at the max. (FYI, we recommend this if you earnestly need to follow users. Not as part of the follow/unfollow method).
What happens to your reach and engagement with the follow-unfollow method?
Not good things, that we can assure you of.
Let’s say you have about 2k followers. You start by manually following about 20 or so accounts in a day.
Because you’re following so few accounts per day, you won’t get action-blocked. But you won’t see your followers increase either.
Side note: 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.
It’s when you start to follow 2 dozen (24) people every hour that you’ll gain followers—about 200+ every week. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Your followers will increase, 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. Remember, the people who follow you back with this hack are not interested in your content or engaging with you. They simply want inflated numbers.
Thinking it is still worth it? It isn’t.
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.
Not convinced? Then keep this in mind:
- 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 penalised, 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.
The gist of follow/unfollow method
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 in 2023. As long as you are careful to stay within the Instagram follow limit.
However, as people who love building the creator community, our advice is to follow genuine accounts that will help you mature as a creator. To all other creators (above 1K following), we say put your blood and sweat into organic ways to raise the follower bar. Also, follow the trends that make it big next year.