If you are on Instagram, I have a feeling you’ve gotten a message like this: “Hey girl! Follow for follow?”
This offer can be really tempting for someone trying to build their account, but the sad fact is: it can be very detrimental in the long run. Why?
1. It builds a following that isn’t interested in what you are creating, and hides you from the people who ARE interested.
That sucks to hear, but it is true. Someone who only sees you as a +1 to their follower number probably doesn’t care about you or what you are doing. If they did, they would have just followed you, no strings attached. This can be confusing to the Instagram algorithm. The algorithm tries to figure out what category your account falls under so that it can show your account to more people who enjoy that category. So if you are a makeup account, and 50% of your followers are makeup lovers, and the other 50% are people with random interests that followed you to get a follow back, the algorithm doesn’t know how to categorize you, which lessens your chances of getting seen by potential followers who would LOVE what you are creating. Believe in yourself enough to know that the followers will come as you continue to create amazing work.
2. It kills your engagement.
Yes, follow-for-follow might increase a vanity metric, but it will mess with the metrics that truly matter. When you create a post on Instagram, the algorithm shows your post to a small percentage of your followers first. Based on how many people interact, the algorithm determines how valuable the post is (remember, Instagram’s goal is to keep people on the app as long as possible so they will consume more ads). As mentioned above, people who only follow you to get a follow back probably aren’t interested in what you’re creating. So when they see a post from you in their feed, they are likely to scroll right past it without engaging. This indicates to the algorithm that your post isn’t valuable, which will limit your reach.
3. They are likely to unfollow/mute your account.
Did you know that it is a common practice among people who use the follow-for-follow method to immediately mute your account? Ouch. As mentioned above, this can kill your engagement rate: which is considered by brands when they decide if they want to work with you (if you are an influencer/content creator). And if the person decides to unfollow, you are left with the short end of the stick as you may never notice.
Please remember that you are more than a number. Your account is valuable no matter how many followers you have. You are capable of building genuine connection and finding people who will support you. There is no need to resort to these tactics to inflate your follower count. The followers will come. If you need help building a genuine following, feel free to click here to inquire about 1-on-1 Instagram coaching with me!
And be sure to check out the other 5 mistakes that Kill Instagram Growth in 2020.