How to remove fake followers on Instagram
How to remove fake followers on Instagram

During ancient Instagram marketing, bot forces used to be a standard practice for brands to increase followers rapidly. It was an inexpensive and effective instrument that helped to attain an “established” brand image. The trend shifted towards increasing engagement rates (ER), determining whether your Instagram audience will see your content on their feed. 
Rules and regulations have become more established in comparison to the past insta-era. Yet, many digital agencies still meet customers that maintain and attract fake followers: bots, spammers, and dead accounts. These days fake followers damage your Instagram accounts’ reach. Some of them are even shadowbanned by Instagram. So, this article is written for all social media marketers who aim to clean up Instagram accounts from bots, dead profiles, and spammers.

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Why you should stay away from fake instagram followers apps

In 2022, the worst thing you can do on Instagram is to continue buying fake followers. Ghost followers will bring your analytics and credibility down. Moreover, Instagram takes spam as equivalent to abusive behaviour. So, you better remove fake followers if you don’t want to lose your target audience or gain punishment from Instagram. 

And here is why:

 1. Instagram algorithm punishes scams  

According to the Terms of Use, Instagram forbids fake accounts, and if you dare breach rules, the algorithm punishes your attempt — disable your account. If you are lucky, the algorithm will send you a warning. If not, you will lose the fake followers you paid for, or it will eventually suspend your account. 

2. Fake followers damage your engagement rates

In 2022, the Instagram algorithm decides which content gets seen. It predicts which posts the users want to see in their feeds based on what they previously liked and commented on. The content appearance highly depends on the user’s interests. If your post generates a lot of interactions, the algorithm will likely boost reach. And vice-versa, if the post lacks interaction, the algorithm deems it. Fake followers that don’t interact with your content create disproportional engagement rates and affect your post visibility. Ghost followers’ impact on engagement rates makes the algorithm classify your posts as uninterested to the real part of your audience. As a result, the algorithm doesn’t show your content in the feed of real people.

3. Fake engagement works against you

You might have thought you could buy fake interaction. Indeed, you can, but again we wouldn’t recommend you to do it. These days, real people do not accept the mismatched engagement.

Hootsuite carried out an experiment where they created an Instagram account  @fruitless.strategy and bought followers for it. The investigation showed that even when you fake Instagram engagement by getting fake comments and likes, your account becomes questionable due to an off-key vibe. Real people can notice that you receive engagement from outside your actual audience; they cringe when bots leave inappropriate comments on your post. Expectedly, people get annoyed and click to turn off your posts; in the worst-case scenario, they react by clicking “unfollow.”  

Additionally, once you start buying followers, you become a platform for spam. The Instagram algorithm also tries to disable bots by using several tricks:

  1. It identifies if illegal third-party apps or services generate interactions. You get notified if you receive inauthentic likes, comments, and subscriptions. Then your account is flagged as you provided your information to a third party.
  1. You may receive a notification where Instagram pursues you to change passwords and therefore disconnect from third-party sources.
  1. If the algorithm continues to record that you are using a service that “helps you get likes and followers,” it blocks your account from the activity for a specified period.

What is the difference between bots, dead accounts, and spammers?

Insta-environment maintains over 1 billion active users. Ghost Data affirms that: on average, 95 million accounts are fakes or bots used to circulate spam on the platform. Although it’s hard to recognize ghosts, some characteristics help to identify them:

Dead accountsInactive accounts that have been out of use for a long time. Perhaps, some of them will try to re-engineer their accounts later, or those accounts will get abandoned.
Bots Bots are designed to build the audience and perform specific actions for that. Bots follow, like, and comment automatically. Remember, this kind of automation breaches Instagram’s Terms of Use.
SpammersSpammers are those responsible for insta-noise. Spammers are the easiest ones to identify. They leave the same comments under numerous posts and bombard the direct message inbox with unwanted messages like ads, links, and donation requests. 

How to detect fake followers on Instagram

To spot a fake account, pay attention to the following factors:

  1. The lack of a profile picture and posts
  2. A username consists of a set of numbers or letters or a mix
  3. No profile bio description
  4. A high number of subscriptions and a small number of followers 
  5. Absence of content or content full of ads and offers
  6. Low-quality content
  7. Disproportionate likes distribution
  8. Lots of views but no comments
  9. Auto direct messages upon subscription
How to detect fake followers on Instagram

The above account looks like a bot. 

** The absence of a profile picture or posts does not yet guarantee that it is a bot. But most of the time, it’s an alarm”.

Avoid these mistakes while removing fake Instagram followers

Before getting rid of every account that seems fake on your profile, avoid the mistakes outlined below, remember that good cleaning doesn’t come overnight, so you need to go through a few stages to do that properly. 

And don’t be afraid to remove ghost followers because you end up with loyal and active followers that will boost your ER after cleaning.

Ignoring your target audienceMake sure you know the portrait of your target audience. Remember, some people hide behind “empty” accounts because they don’t want to share their personal lives but love to spy on others. They may be interested in your brand or product. You just need some time and courage to purchase it.
Desire to remove everything too fastDrastic measures lead to a drop in organic reach. As a result, you stop appearing in your audience’s feed. You will need some time to recover.
Lack of proper content strategyCleaning a profile is good, but it’s crucial to continue working on your content. Plan further content thoroughly to attract a new audience in the post-cleaning era.  Growing your audience authentically offers excellent tools for that.

How to prepare your account before removing fake followers 

  • Start promoting your IG account before cleaning, so you can gain real users instead of bots you are about to remove. 
  • Ask your real audience for some activeness to avoid removing the real accounts.
  • If you have a large number of followers, consider using trusted follower bot remover services.

How to remove fake followers from your Instagram account

​​1. Manual option 

Despite being a slow process, it perfectly works if you have up to 5000 followers. Warn your followers that you are doing some “clean up.” Then, ask those interested in your account to leave comments below any post. Keep in mind that empty accounts may be real people who are interested in your content.

You can remove fake followers in 3 steps:

  • Open the profile of unwanted followers.
  • Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of this profile.
  • Select “Delete or Block follower” in the menu that pops up, and confirm the removal.
How to remove fake followers from your Instagram account

Also, you can think of creating a new account and growing a real audience that values your product. You can notify the current audience about your relocation and ask the most active users to follow your new address. 

2. Auto option  

If getting rid of ghost followers manually is time and energy-consuming, it is worth investing in a virtual assistant that will do it for you. Specially designed tools are available for those who need to get rid of fakes and bots en masse. Their main advantage is speed and automation. 

Automation regulations

Automation is considered third-party by the platform, and some of it technically is also an infringement against the Terms of Use. So, if you want to use cleaning services that have trust issues on Instagram, it will be at your discretion. Make sure your account stays safe while using third-party services with access to your account.

BUT! Instagram allows you to share your data for good purposes. Recently, Instagram has added a new feature that allows users to control their shared data with third-party apps. You can go to Settings > Security > Apps & Websites to see which third-party services are permitted to access your data. 

Hence, some third-party apps and services for businesses developed in official partnership with Instagram. Once you feel uncomfortable with it, you can opt-out by disabling them in the settings. So, don’t hesitate to use approved kinds of apps and services for the cleaning experience.

How to remove fake followers from your Instagram account - Automation regulations

How do they work?

The learning machines scan your audience and detect unwanted followers, then provide you with an option to remove fakes. They use their algorithm to analyze the list of followers and reveal potential bots among them. In addition, you can set filters in accordance with your needs. For example, set optimal numbers of 20-30 unfollows per day. The safest operation is when the amount of blocked users is less than the number of new subscribers. Remember, it is an excellent idea to promote your account in parallel to attract a new audience. It reduces the risk of reach damage when you run bulk blocking.

The services and apps listed below allow you to do mass unfollows, blocking, and unlikes. Additionally, they keep monitoring your page and report statistics about your audience. You can be safe with these legal services specializing in cleaning Instagram accounts.

Spamguard appOne of the most recommended and time-checked anti-spam services. 
InflactThe great toolkit is developed for all Instagramable needs, including cleaning services. 
Apple Mass Unfollow for Instagram  Cloudflare network Mobile tool for detecting ghosts and inactive followers. AI analytics that detects and eliminates bad bots in one click. Cloudflare estimates the likelihood of every request that might come from a bot. 

Conclusion: Content is king

There is a “Content is king” article written by Bill Gates in 1996. He was right in his predictions. Nowadays, social network users are not as interested in the number of followers as in the quality of content. Faking a so-called first impression leads to a negative impact on further engagement. Fake approaches also lead to a penalty from the IG platform.

Rather than buy fake followers and rely on bots, take time to understand your audience and create quality, engaging content. This way, you would gain more real followers who genuinely enjoy your posts and engage with you, which is absolutely priceless.

Related article: How to manage multiple Instagram accounts in one app?

Meerim Ruslanbekova

Meerim is a devoted digital marketing ninja who runs her own creative agency to provide solutions for customers 👩‍💻 She describes herself as flexible, quick to pick up new skills, and eager to learn from others.