Last Updated on December 15, 2020

Social media influencers know their follower count plays an important role in their ability to attract advertisers. Some brands will only work with influencers who have certain follower levels, and many people try to grow their accounts to attract higher-paying companies. However, more brands are focusing on quality over quantity. A large follower count might seem impressive, but not if it’s made up of ghost followers. Here’s how to get rid of ghost followers and why you should avoid these low-quality accounts.

What Are Ghost Followers?

Ghost followers are spam accounts that will never engage with your content or buy your recommended products. They are not real people, but rather bots that post fake deals, adult content, and phishing links. This means that engaging with these accounts, or following them, can be a threat to your Instagram account.

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There are a few common qualities of ghost followers you can look for as you review your account. The more you track your follower quality, the easier it is to spot these low-quality followers. These include:

  • Numbers in the Instagram handle (ex. raven682374).
  • Low follower counts but high following counts — proving the account is following thousands of people but no one wants to follow them back.
  • No posts, few posts, or low-quality posts. The quality of content can mark this account as spam.
  • No engagement. The account’s followers won’t engage with their content.

No one wants to follow this type of account, so you shouldn’t want these accounts following your brand.

Why Should You Avoid Ghost Followers?

There are more benefits to removing ghost followers than there are in keeping them. Your account will look more appealing to advertisers and you can better engage with the people who care about your brand.

Your Personal Brand Looks More Reputable

As potential advertisers scan your account, they will notice the types of followers you attract. If you have a large following of ghosts or spambots, advertisers will wonder why you attract that type of low-quality follower. Are you buying followers? Why don’t real accounts want to follow you? The presence of these ghosts looks suspicious and could drive some brands away.

Your Engagement Rates Will Increase

While your follower count may take a hit as you eliminate ghost accounts, your engagement rates will likely go up. If you have 2,000 followers and a post gets 100 likes, then your engagement rate is 5%. However, if you purge 300 ghost followers but still get the same 100 likes, your engagement rate increases to almost 6%. These metrics prove your audience is highly engaged and cares about your posted content.

Influencer marketing is moving toward quality over quantity, so you want to highlight how active your users are.

Your Engagement Quality Will Improve

While ghost followers mostly linger around your account, some will try to spam your posts with comments. Instead of engaging discussions and valuable comments, you will see low-quality spam about knock-off discount sunglasses and fake offers to represent various brands. These comments are highly visible and will drive away your followers and potential brands.

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This is why it’s better to take action and block these accounts instead of letting them linger. At best, they lurk in the background. At worst, they post a threat to your income and overall image.

How to Get Rid of Ghost Followers

There are three main ways to get rid of ghost followers on your account. First, there are some services that will scan your account and highlight any low-quality or spam accounts that follow you. Many of these services take this a step further and identify inactive accounts — or accounts of real people who haven’t posted or engaged in several months. You can use these services to remove any suspicious accounts that follow you.

The second way is to manually complete this process. You can scroll through your followers and block any accounts that are spam or potentially harmful. This process may take a long time at first, so make a habit of keeping good account hygiene by scrolling through your new followers each week. It should only take a few minutes to block ghost accounts that follow you.

The third method is out of your control. Periodically, Instagram conducts a purge to remove ghost accounts and cleanses the social network of millions of spambots. You may notice your follower count drops after this, but it only means low-quality accounts were removed.

While you should focus on the number of followers you have to become an influencer, you won’t get far if you attract low-quality accounts and build a following of spambots and ghosts. Continue to grow your presence with engaging content and real connections with people who are interested in what you have to say.