How to Deal with Your Instagram Ghost Followers

4 mins read

“Ghost followers” are accounts that follow you but rarely/never like or comment anything on your profile. Why not? Some of them are bots, fake or abandoned accounts. Others may have too many followings already, so they rarely even see your stuff in their newsfeeds. And yet others may regularly see your content but decide not to engage. For example, if you post edgy content such as sexy photos, you know that lots of people are watching but many prefer to stay in the shadows and not publicly like or comment.
Ghost followers cause your engagement rate (ER) to decrease. ER is basically a percentage of followers who actively like or comment on your profile. Low ER can impede the growth of your account because it signals to IG that your content might suck, it’s uninteresting to many people. What do do?
First, you need to figure out whether your ER is too low for your account’s size. The bigger your account, the lower the ER, that’s normal. It’s like if you live in a small village (small account), then you know almost everybody there and people often say hi on the streets, unless you’re an a-hole. That’s high engagement rate that is normal for a small account. But if you live in a big city, then hardly anybody knows or cares about you or anybody else. That’s low ER, which is also normal for a big account. So, how to determine what the ER should be for an account your size?
Type your IG handle into something like hypeauditor.com. Not only they’ll tell you what your ER is but they’ll also rank it and tell you what is an average ER for an account your size.
If your ER is average or above, then you might as well let your ghost followers be. When people look at an IG profile, one of the first things they see is the total amount of followers. The higher the number, the more “social currency” you have. So, if ghost followers are not a problem, then just let them add to your social coolness factor. Also, not all ghost followers are bad. The ones who watch your content without engaging are good because they increase your “impressions/reach” metrics.
But if your ER is too low, then bad ghosts have to go. I recommend this three-step strategy: 1) figure out who the ghost followers are; 2) try to reengage them, and 3) get rid of those who refuse to get reengaged. The end result of cutting out this dead weight will be increased ER which will help you grow.

Step 1: Identify Ghosts

So, the first step is to figure out who is dead weight on your profile. If you have thousands of followers, then doing it manually will take ages. You need software (bot). I use Jarvee as an example in this post. Have the bot give you the list of your followers that haven’t liked or commented on you last X posts.  

Do not block them just yet. You should give them a second chance to reengage, which brings us to the next step.

Step 2: Attempt to Reengage

Copy-paste the extracted list of ghost followers into the bot’s “Like Posts of Specific Users” field:

The goal is to start actively liking posts of ghost followers. This will cause some of them to come out of the woodwork and start liking back. After each of them has received a few likes, run step 1 again. This will give you the list of truly dead followers who refused to reengage. Note that not all ghost followers are bad. The ones who watch your content without engaging are good because they increase your “impressions/reach” metrics. I wish there was a way to create a separate list for ghost followers who are watching your content (without engaging) vs. true dead weight that never even sees your profile. However, I don’t think this is currently possible. So, your “shy” ghost followers will have to become collateral damage that gets cut off with the true dead weight. If there are followers you don’t want to cut off, you can add them to bot’s “white list” (a list of followers that the bot will not remove). Perhaps you can also make an announcement on your profile that you’re about to clean up your account, and anybody who doesn’t want to get cut off better start liking your latest posts or DM you to get on the white list of salvation.

Step 3: Mass Execution

Okay, so, after all of the above, you will have the list of your worst ghost followers that have failed to rehabilitate and are, thus, are ready for mass execution.  If this death row list is bigger than a few hundred entries, then do not kill ‘em all on the same day, particularly if your account is younger than a few months. Instagram can ban YOU for performing too many actions too quick. To fly safely below IG’s spam radar, for young accounts, program the bot to remove 50-100 ghosts per day while automatically increasing that number by approx. 50 per day until it reaches 300 kills per day. For established accounts, you can safely remove 400-500 per day.

To remain on the safe side during the purge, avoid participating in Instagram yourself from an IP that is different from your bot’s IP. E.g., if your bot is in the cloud/VPS but you keep poking your finger in your cell phone that is in a different state or country, then YOU might be the one who ends up getting temporary blocked for a day or so instead of your ghost followers. You should be okay if you run the bot from your desktop but then your bot will only work while the computer is on.
Advanced tip. To have the bot do the heavy hitting for you even while you and your devices are asleep, move the bot to a virtual private server (VPS). Amazon offers free one year trial on a bot-friendly VPS. Free tier is enough for heavy botting of 5-6 accounts.
If, after removing ghost followers, you want to increase your ER even further, you can have the bot automatically delete your low-ER posts. The ones that got low amount of likes and comments. However, that is the subject of a separate post. Happy hunting!

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