The follow/unfollow strategy is very common for those familiar with Instagram automation. It works by following users that might be interested in your content, wait a few days, then unfollow them if they do not follow back.
We have been using Instagram automation for years with much success. We have proven that the follow/unfollow strategy is one of the most effective ways to gain Instagram followers. As an example, one account that we help managed grew to 90k+ followers in just under a year with this method.
What we found is that the method only works well with automation. When we first started using Instagram, we would manually follow users and like their posts every hour. It was incredibly time consuming, and more often or not end up hitting action restrictions because we lost count how many users we followed in an hour.
We Found That 20%-35% Of People Will Follow You Back
We have been helping over 100+ clients manage their Instagram accounts. The only way for us to optimize their Instagram growth, we track every detail to ensure we meet our performance goals. One of the key metrics we measure is the follow-back rate.
We do this by tracking every account that our tools have engaged with, then measuring the percentage of users end up following back our client.
The percentage will vary significantly depending on the effectiveness of whom you choose to follow. With Instagram automation, you have dozens of filters to make sure you are engaging with users that are likely to engage back.
The settings range from their following to follower ratio, date of last post, gender, location and many more. Perfecting these settings with the use of Instagram automation is the only way to sustain the effectiveness of this strategy.
Follow/Unfollow Method without Automation
We found that using the follow/unfollow method without automation is unlikely to achieve this results. In our study, we manually followed 1,000 users in a span of a week that was active in a fitness niche. We also compared it to the same account using automation following the same number of users per day.
The difference was astonishing. The manual method only achieved a 12% follow-back rate versus the automated approach achieved on average a 31% follow back rate.
In short, the automated approached was 3x more effective than its manual comparison.
What happens when you start unfollowing?
There’s a myth that if you unfollow a user, it is likely that the user will unfollow you back. The statement is true if the user finds out. Instagram does a fantastic job showing only positive engagements such as users who comment and like your photos, and those who follow you.
On the other hand, Instagram omits negative notifications such as users unfollowing you or unliking your posts. In the way the app is designed, users are unlikely to see that you have unfollowed them.
Where unfollowing hurts your growth is when you unfollow before you give the user a chance to follow back. For example, when you follow a user in the morning, that same user might not login to Instagram until after work. What the user will end up experiencing is a notification that you have followed. When he/she click on the notification and view your profile, he/she will have noticed you will have already unfollowed and is unlikely to follow you.
What we found is that on average, users will take three days to follow you back. Therefore, when setting up your automation settings, or when you’re considering manually unfollowing users, wait at least 4-5 days before clicking that unfollow button.
When done correctly, we noticed a 5%-8% churn of the users we unfollowed.
That means for every ten users you follow, on average only one will unfollow you back. Therefore, the follow/unfollow method is proven to provide you with tremendous growth with little work to no work with the use of Instagram automation.
Instagram Limits and Terms of Service
You might say to yourself, oh if the more people I follow, the more followers I’ll get, why not follow thousands of users a day. The problem is with Instagram limits and terms of service. For one, it’s very time- consuming to manually follow/unfollow more than a hundred followers a day. The only option for the follow/unfollow method to be effective is with the use of Instagram automation.
The risk you face with automation is that it is against Instagram’s Terms of Service as stated here:
“You must not create accounts with the Service through unauthorized means, including but not limited to, by using an automated device, script, bot, spider, crawler or scraper.”
When detected, you’ll usually get slapped with a temporary action block, but in some severe cases even a permanent ban (though we have never seen that happen). Learn more about this here: 8 Dumb Ways You Can Get Banned on Instagram
Lastly, Instagram puts strict limits on how many people you can follow/unfollow in an hour, and limits on how fast you can follow/unfollow users.
According to Instagram, to help reduce spam, Instagram does not allow anyone to follow more than 7,500 people.
Regarding hourly limits, we find that with new accounts that only been active for a few months, you can only follow/unfollow about 20 users an hour, and a maximum of 100-200 users in a day. For accounts that have been active for years, the limits will increase to about 50 follows/unfollows an hour, and a maximum of 300-400 users in a day.
In closing, we have done the research and can safely conclude that the follow/unfollow can in fact accelerate your Instagram growth, but only with the use of Instagram automation. If you’re looking to learn more about Instagram automation, we would highly recommend you reading this article: The Most Popular Instagram Bots Compared.