Engagement is key to a successful Instagram page. But as you grow bigger and get tens of thousands of followers, your engagement is likely to stagnate or worst case, take a sharp decrease. It’s no secret that smaller accounts (below 1,000 followers) have an average engagement of 8%, while accounts close to 10,000 followers average only half, being 4% (according to a study done by influencer marketing hub, in which they analysed over 1,000,000 profiles in 2017).
A method of countering falling engagement is by blocking or removing ghost followers. Well get to the why and how later, but let’s first talk about what ghost followers are.
What are Ghost followers?
Ghost followers are, simply put, people who have followed your account, but are not engaging (so liking or commenting) with your content. It could be that they never did or that they did for a while but then stopped. So why did they stop liking your content? Well there are are a few reasons for this.
First, let’s say you started growing your account with a follow/unfollow method (a proven method guaranteed to deliver successful growth) and people followed you back consistently. Well chances are they are not, or never were, interested in your content and just followed you back to return a favor.
Another reason is because the people who followed you could be either automated accounts, bots or fake profiles. So they increased your followers count, but they’re never engage after performing the follow. In this case you shouldn’t be surprised that no human eyes ever saw your content to begin with and just did the follow based on keywords, hashtags or even just because you’re following another account.
A third reason could be that the user is not interested in that type of content anymore (flavors and interests change as we move through life), or that the user even stopped using Instagram as platform in its entirety.
These three reasons don’t bother us while we grow our profile, but as we grow bigger and notice a stagnation in engagement (which after all is the most important metric in Instagram) we are no longer interested in these dormant, so called ‘ghost’, followers.
So why would I block Ghost followers
Ghost followers, as explained above, are essentially people who are (no longer) paying attention to your content and are thus not engaging with it (likes & comments). From an engagement point of view, they offer no value to our account. The sole reason to allow them to remain on our account would be as a vanity metric, to keep our follower count up.
The reason why you would want to block ghost followers is to increase your engagement rate. Engagement rate is (in my opinion) the most relevant and interesting Instagram metric by which to evaluate accounts. It’s also one of the things that plays in Instagram’s Algorithm and having an higher engagement rate will get your ranked better by the Algorithm.
The idea behind removing ghost followers is very simple. Let’s assume (in a hypothetical scenario) that your account has 8 500 followers, and you are receiving an average of 500 likes per post.
That means that your engagement rate is 5.88% (500 divided by 8500).
The idea behind removing ghost followers is that we will track down people who have not liked or commented on any of our recent, say last 20 posts and block them as a follower. This will, effectively, decrease our followers count. But the good news is, that in doing so, it will also increase our engagement rate.
In our example of the 8 500 follower accounts, let’s say we can identify 600 accounts (and that’s a rather conservative amount!) that haven’t engaged with any of our lasts 20 posts and we block them. This takes our follower count down to 8 300. If we recalculate our engagement rate however, the effect is clearly visible:
500 divided by 7 900 = 6.32%
That’s a solid 7.5% increase of engagement verses the previous example. And that’s without taking into effect any change in posting strategy, type of content,…
So how do I block the Ghosts?
Blocking ghost followers is very easy, but it takes a fair amount of research before you can do it. The first thing you need to do is identify people who are engaging with your content. To do so:
- Compile a list with all the people who have liked or commented on your last 20-25 posts (you can do more, but minimally 20)
- Remove duplicate names from the list
Now that we have this list of engagers, we need a list of all of our followers. As soon as we have a list of followers, we can then remove the names of the engagers. What is left is a list of followers that have not interacted with our last 20-25 posts. For people with less time available, there are a few Instagram ‘Scraper’ tools available that can assist in speeding up this process.
Now that we have compiled a list of ghost followers, we can start to block them. To do so (within the Instagram app) go to your “followers” section in the profile. Search for their name and click through to the profile. Next you click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner and click on “block”.
And that’s how easy this process is! You don’t even have to break a sweat.
You will notice however, that by blocking these followers, your follower count will drop. Should you want to unblock them later on, you will still be able to see them in your follower list and can unblock them from there. Or go directly to their profile and perform an unblock.
How frequently do you need to block Ghost followers?
To be effective in the long run and keep a stable (or growing) engagement rate, you will need to perform this periodically.
If you are gaining hundreds of followers everyday, it could make sense to do it bi-weekly. If you are growing slower, doing it once a month will be more than enough.