In this article, I’m going to teach you how to remove those inactive “ghost” followers that are just killing your engagement rate, and get your content ranking at the top of people’s feeds (again).
What Are Ghost Followers?
Although there’s no official definition of what a “ghost follower” is, I would define it as being a follower who hasn’t engaged with any of your content for at least a month or so.
Such engagement would include everything from liking, commenting, sharing, answering story polls, DM’ing and more.
Quite often, a ghost follower will either be a bot, lurker or someone that just follows every account under the sun; and thus rarely ever sees your content – if ever.
Should you remove Ghost Followers on Instagram?
The reason why you would remove a ghost follower is to increase your engagement rate. I realise that this may not mean much to you, so I’ll try to break it down into simple terms.
Your engagement rate is the amount of engagement that you receive on a single post, divided by how many followers you have at that given time.
Multiply that number by 100 and you get your engagement rate percentage (%).
So for instance, if you get a total of 10 likes on a particular post, and you have 100 followers at that time, your engagement rate is 10% – which is pretty good.
The reason why you would want to improve your engagement rate is that it’s (partly) Instagram’s measurement of whether your content is good or not.
To put it simply, posts with high engagement get shown to more people. Alternatively, if your post doesn’t receive much engagement at all, Instagram’s algorithm will show it to fewer people.
That’s why you want to remove ghost followers that aren’t going to engage with your content. In doing so, you not only improve your engagement rate but also your reach.
How to remove ghost followers on Instagram
So now that you know why you should remove ghost followers, it begs the question; how?
There are three ways to remove ghost followers…
- Manually (Safest)
- Automatically (Riskiest)
- Semi-Automatically (Recommended)
I will be breaking down each method as follows, however, I ask you to read the manual method before scrolling down to the recommended semi-automatic strategy.
The Manual Way (Safest)
The safest way to remove Instagram followers and not get punished by the algorithm is to remove your followers manually.
This method will take the most time, however, it is the one least likely to get your account shadowbanned, action blocked or permanently banned.
That is unless you go overboard with it!
NOTE: It is recommended to only remove up to 30-50 accounts at a time, and to do so from your own mobile (app). Otherwise, Instagram may suspect you as being a bot and punish your account.
To start removing ghost followers manually, you will have to go to your Instagram account (on your phone app) and then click on Followers.
From there, you will see a long list of all your followers.
Each of these followers will have a button to the right side of them, saying “Remove”. Click on this to remove an Instagram follower.
Given that this process is entirely manual, you will have to use your best judgement to figure out who is (and who isn’t) a ghost follower.
My recommendation is to start by removing any accounts that do not have a profile picture.
Secondly, I would remove anyone that follows a ridiculous number of accounts, like the above example where one of my followers was following over 5,000 different accounts!
Other than that, you’ll just have to remove anyone that you think is not engaging with your content.
The Automated Way (Riskiest)
When you clicked on this article, you may have been wondering, is there an app to delete ghost followers on Instagram?
I’m here to tell you… Yes. Yes, there is.
The app that you are looking for is called the Spamguard App.
NOTE: The Spamguard App is a paid service, with which I am not affiliated. I am purely just referring to it from having used it personally.
Before you get ahead of yourself though, I want to make it very clear that Instagram does not condone the use of unapproved, third-party apps and software like this.
So if you decide to use it then you should do so with the knowledge that you could get your account shadowbanned – or worse.
The instructions are quite clear on the site, so I won’t bore you with the details here, but essentially you can run a scan on your account to see which of your followers are…
- Commercial (on Instagram for business)
- Foreign (speak a different language entirely)
Once you’ve run the scan, you will be able to pick and choose which of your followers you’d like the app to remove automatically.
This is the quickest & easiest way to remove ghost followers on Instagram.
As mentioned already though, if you are to use an automated service like this then you should do so with care.
My advice would be, should you decide to use Spamguard App, to use it as if you were performing the tasks by hand manually. Simply put, a human approach is recommended.
The Semi-Automated Way (Recommended)
The third and final way of removing ghost followers from Instagram is a mash-up of both of the previous methods; manual and automatic.
This is the method that I used after neglecting my Instagram for almost a year. This semi-automatic method has worked just fine for me, well… apart from one incident.
I’ll get to that in a second.
But first, perform a Spamguard App scan of your account to identify which of your followers are bots/inactive.
Once the scan is complete, you should see an option under Followers to “open account list to remove manually”.
When you click on this, you should see a huge list of your ghost followers. Take a screenshot of this page and save it to your PC/phone.
I personally went through this list each day and manually removing 30-50 accounts each day, using the manual method, highlighting each name that I had removed.
NOTE: I used Photoshop to cross out each name one by one. You could use something like MS Paint or even print out the list onto a piece of paper. Whatever works for you.
I followed this method for around 2 weeks and more than halved my follower count in the process.
There was one incident though towards the beginning where I got a bit too eager and manually removed over 180 followers within the space of an hour… oops.
Instagram kindly told me to stop with an action blocked message and even signed me out of my account, asking me to verify that it was actually me – and not some bot.
All was fine once I logged back in, but I took it as a warning. So, going forward I just stuck to removing 30-50 accounts at a time – as a human being would capably do. It’s been fine ever since.
Removing ghost followers is a great way to increase your engagement rate (and reach) on Instagram. How you choose to remove those ghost followers though can potentially impact the health of your Instagram account.
Using unapproved, third-party apps and software to automatically remove followers can result in you having your account be shadowbanned, action blocked or even worse; permanently banned.
That being said, the majority of readers can feel safe in using the Spamguard App to scan their account (only) and identify ghost followers before manually removing them via their mobile app, less than 30-50 followers at a time.
Even just scanning your account with a third party does introduce risk though, so if you’re the risk-averse type then I would just remove ghost followers manually.
Have any questions or feedback about this article? Let me know in the comments below!