To Unfollow or Not to Unfollow on Instagram?
Curating the list of accounts you’re following on Instagram helps create the Instagram experience you want as you can customize what shows up on your newsfeed and who you want to engage with. Just as you can choose who to follow based on your desired content “consumption,” so too can you choose to unfollow certain accounts to minimize the unnecessary “clutter” on your news feed and to prioritize posts that you’re most interested in.
Unfollowing accounts is a tiresome task that usually involves going through your “following” list to find those that you want to remove and/or randomly unfollowing accounts as they appear on your news feed. At the same time, you have to be familiar with Instagram’s rules on unfollowing and to modify your Instagram strategy as needed.
So should you or shouldn’t you click on that unfollow button? Keep reading to find out.
Instagram’s Rules on Unfollowing
First, you must know that following and unfollowing are considered the same action. This means your follows and unfollows are counted against the same limit per hour and per day.
Why is there such a limit? The platform’s daily limits on certain actions (likes, follows, unfollows, DMs, etc.) are part of its efforts to curb spam and abuse. If you unfollow (and/or follow) too many accounts in a single hour or day, Instagram will see this as bot-like activity and will temporarily suspend your account.
The exact limits imposed on an account depend on whether your account is new (3 months or less), your number of followers, and your rate of engagement, among others. Instagram does not actually specify the numbers for these particular limits in their rules and regulations, but based on the most recent estimates:
- A new account can unfollow around 100 accounts per day or around 4 to 5 accounts per hour
- An account that is more than 3 months old can unfollow up to 150 accounts per day or around 6 to 7 accounts per hour
Keep in mind that these numbers are not official. When you hit the maximum number of unfollows that you’re allowed in an hour, Instagram will let you know that you have reached the limit. If you ignore the warning and continue unfollowing, your account can be suspended for an hour or even up to 24 or 48 hours, depending on how often you disobey the rules. If your spammy activities persist, you’d run the risk of getting banned on Instagram for good.
How to Unfollow on a Mobile Device and PC
Unfollowing people, brands, and/or businesses on Instagram is a different process when you’re doing it on a mobile device and on a computer.
Unfollowing on a mobile device
If you want to unfollow a single account, simply go to the profile page of the account in question, tap on the “Following” button, and then click on the “Unfollow” option. To unfollow more than one account, just follow these steps.
- Go to your profile page.
- Click on the “Following” tab.
- Two circles will appear; click on the “Least Interacted With” option.
- A list of 50 accounts will appear; tap on “Remove” for each account you wish to unfollow.
Remember to limit your unfollows per hour and per day to avoid having your account suspended. If you’re also following new accounts, keep in mind that this activity will count against your hourly and daily unfollow/follow limits. So create a schedule for each activity and keep track of your follows and unfollows.
Unfollowing on a PC
- Launch your Instagram app or open Instagram in a browser and log in.
- Click on the “Following” tab and then tap on the upper right corner to display your list of followers.
- Click on the “Following” button; the “Unfollow” option will appear.
You can also choose which accounts to unfollow based on who’s not following you back. Unlike hitting the “Follow” button which sends a notification to the user you followed, there are no notifications sent when you unfollow an account.
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Mistakes to Avoid When Following/Unfollowing
Following and unfollowing accounts is an opportunity to shape your piece of the Instagram digi-verse and filter the content you want to see and the kinds of engagements you want to have based on your preferences. Here are some common don’ts when following and unfollowing.
- Don’t be careless with your selections. Make sure the accounts you’re following are within your niche and are relevant to your target audience.
- Don’t follow inactive accounts. Accounts that have no recorded activities for weeks or months can be added to your unfollow list.
- Don’t smash the follow button. Remember that hitting follow too many times in an hour or day can be flagged as bot-like activity, which can earn you a stint in IG jail. Especially if your account is new and you’re still building your Instagram community, don’t be tempted to go on an indiscriminate following spree.
- Don’t unfollow en masse. This is another temptation you must resist, although it may seem efficient. You must pace yourself when unfollowing accounts to stay out of Instagram’s spam radar. This is why practicing careful discrimination when following accounts is important, as you won’t end up unfollowing some of them later on.
Following and Unfollowing Tips and Strategies
Instagram offers plenty of features to help you optimize the platform’s functionality, enhance your user experience, and enhance your organic growth.
This option allows you to exclude an account’s posts from your news feed without you having to unfollow them. If you feel that you’re seeing too many posts from a user that you’re not interested in, just click on the three dots located at the upper right corner of their post, and then tap on the “Mute” option.
Go for quality
Don’t follow indiscriminately with the goal of earning back new follows. Following the right accounts, i.e., those that share your interests, may take time and a lot of research but this will deliver good quality engagement and sustainable growth.
Define an effective follow/unfollow strategy
You want to get value from your follows, which means real and consistent engagement. In order to achieve this, your Following list should be made up of users who are within your niche and are interested in what you have to offer.
Reciprocal follows — or following back those who follow you — may be a nice gesture and may even be helpful when you’re still growing your brand. But your long-term plan should include a careful evaluation of your Following list to make sure that there’s consistent engagement with your content. If you’re following users who are not interacting with you because they’re not interested in your content, you’ll end up skewing your Instagram analytics.
Accounts that are not engaging with your content and those that don’t belong to your target audience do not add value to your brand, and you may opt to unfollow them. You can further define your follow/unfollow strategy with these tips:
- Identify your goal. Is it to sell your beauty products? Is it to create awareness about a cause that’s important to you? Are you just interested in all things related to travel and adventure?
- Identify your target followers. Are they people that fall within a certain age group? Customers with a genuine interest in sustainable brands? Individuals who share your philosophy or interests?
- Define your unfollow criteria. Identify the kinds of users that will not add value to your brand, such as anyone who is not committed to sustainability or whose behaviors and content are not aligned with your brand’s philosophy.
- Perform a regular quality check. Set a weekly schedule to randomly check a fixed number of accounts, i.e., visit their timelines, to determine if you should keep following them or if you should unfollow them.
- Measure and optimize your growth strategy. If your current strategy has resulted in a 20% growth, for example, you can start following 20 new accounts per day and then assess whether this new plan contributes further to your growth.
- Reach out. One of the best ways to create and foster real engagement is through actual communication. If you find someone who, you think, will be interested in your brand, don’t hesitate to send them a DM. Just make sure to send a personalized and friendly message to better guarantee a new follow.
Remember, engagement is more important than the number of follows. Make use of Instagram’s analytics tools to monitor your account’s performance and assess whether or not your growth strategy is working.
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How to Encourage Quality Engagement
Here are a few more ways to prioritize quality engagement over quantity of followers.
- Follow accounts that share your interests.
- Scroll through their latest posts and “Like” 3 to 5 posts you find most engaging.
- Leave a few comments where appropriate.
- Regram/repost one of their posts to your story (if allowed).
- Customize your regrammed story with a caption and don’t forget to mention them.
How to Find Out if You’ve Been Unfollowed
Throughout Instagram’s constant reinvention to keep improving its services over the years, some of its earlier tools were ultimately discontinued as the platform adapted to the changing needs of its users. These retired features include ones that could help you identify who recently followed or stopped following your account.
These days, you have to manually check accounts one by one to find out if any of them has unfollowed you.
First, you need to view your Followers list. Type the name of the person you want to check in the search bar. If the person shows up in the search results, then they are still following you; if they don’t, then they have hit unfollow on your account — and you can do the same.
There are third-party tools that offer automated detection of unfollows and reciprocal unfollows. But, again, using automated services on Instagram is prohibited and could lead to account suspension or even permanent banishment. While it’s important to keep your Instagram community exclusive to those who share your interests, you must always opt for organic strategies to build lasting and meaningful relationships.
Blocking Someone on Instagram
You may find it necessary to unfollow a user for any number of reasons; but unfollowing may not be enough in situations wherein you’re being trolled, harassed, or spammed. In such circumstances, you have the option to block the troublesome or abusive character on Instagram.
Blocking an account means they won’t be able to follow you, view your posts, or send you DMs. they also won’t be notified when you block (or unblock) them. Should you find yourself having to block someone, the process is pretty simple:
- Search for the profile of the user in question.
- On their profile page, tap on the 3 dots located at the top right corner.
- Click on the “Block” option.
That’s it. The person won’t have the opportunity to bother you again. You also have the option to report any abusive or inappropriate content, suspicious profiles, or spammy activities to Instagram so that the platform can review the issue and take the appropriate actions.
Following and unfollowing accounts on Instagram can mean the difference between quality engagement and an insubstantial growth in numbers. Keep in mind that the kind of growth you should prioritize and put all your time and effort into is an organic and sustainable one that adds value to your brand and delivers genuine and consistent engagement. Growing your number of followers should involve careful selection and a strategic approach.
Unfollowing should also be part of your account’s regular “maintenance” so you can weed out anybody who is not enriching your Instagram experience and community in any way.