How To Clean Up Your Instagram Followers

Fake followers has been a hot topic over the last 2 years with so many influencers around the world, seemingly, having bought large portions of their followers. This is tough on “little guys” who are trying their best to make authentic content, build a genuine audience and find success in the “wild west” that the digital landscape so often is to new users.

Why Buy Fake Followers?

Much of the concept of buying followers is, “Fake it until you make it.” Right? Wrong. Buying followers is literally the worst thing you can do on so many levels. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Brands pay you to promote their product to your REAL audience. If they catch you buying followers you can be sued for fraud. Real talk.
  • Buying followers gives you a high follower number, BUT NO ONE IS HOME. What’s the point of 100 000 followers with zero engagement and no real community?
  • Easy! Buy engagements as well. Bad move. Even though the technology is “engaging”, it’s a machine talking to a machine with no REAL people to engage and absorb your output. Ultimately, this means you actually have little to ZERO influence.

Isn’t the point of having a following to have influence, build community and share content to genuinely invested users?

It Takes Too Long to Build a Real Following

Welcome to the real world darlings. People look at Richard Branson or Mark Cuban and want to rich and famous. No darlings. It can take DECADES to find mega-wealth. There is no fast track to hard work and true success.

I also fall into this category. It takes me a REALLY long time to build my following, but I’m not too worried because:

  1. I work full time. I can only spend so much time curating my feed.
  2. I’m a blogger, not an influencer, so my main platform of purpose is this blog, not social media.
  3. I don’t follow a niche topic. Most influencers have a niche that they stick to, I’m more varied than that which makes it harder to build a following.
  4. I use tools to ensure my Instagram following is real. Small and pure is better than large and fake.

So, on that note, I thought I’d share the 3 tools I use to keep my Instagram account pure.

IG Audit

IG Audit has fast become a popular tool to track how pure your audience is. You can put either your account information in or someone else’s. This is a great tool for the PR’s out there who are looking for influencers to work with but aren’t sure if their audience is real.

How To Use IG Audit

Go to the IG Audit homepage, insert the Instagram HANDLE, not the account name. The HANDLE is found next to the profile picture in the feed, NOT on the individual account page under the profile image.

Enter the details of the account you would like to explore. It will take a few moments, but then it will give you an average number of likes to be expected from each image, the average number of comments to be expected from each image and a real follower percentage.

When I first did this, I had a 95% real follower percentage. But since keeping brands on, my quality score has dropped! Read more about what I mean about brands below.

Bonus Tip: I Block Brands

This might sound counterintuitive, but it’s something I’m trialling at the moment. The reason why I do this is because brands follow your account when they join Instagram yet hardly ever engage again.

What’s the point? Your follower number looks high, but no one is home!

Just last week I decided not to block brands and now my ghost follower number has increased (users who haven’t engaged with you on your last 50 posts), and my “real following” score dropped as well! If you don’t have an active community engaging with your account then there’s little reason to be on there.

Mass Unfollow for Instagram

Mass Unfollow for Instagram is an app I use on my phone to determine who my inactive and ghost followers are. Ghost followers are those who have not engaged with my last 50 posts. So they either don’t find my content interesting or aren’t online. Inactive Users are those who have not posted anything in the last 90 days. So essentially they’re not active on Instagram.

I will assess both my ghost followers and inactive followers and clean them up. Initially I would keep brands I liked or my inactive friends on, but then I realised that they are diluting the algorithm and thus prohibiting actual users from seeing my content.

How this works is: say the algorithm shows your latest post to 100 users. If 50 of those users are inactive, then essentially you only have 50 chances to be seen. If only 10% of those 50 users engage, then only 5 people will respond. (This is me using my common sense, has not been verified by Instagram.)

So I blocked all inactive and ghost followers so that my posts reach real and proper users. IMMEDIATELY my engagement improved in my InstaStories as well as on my posts. I’m just better at stories than images, to be fair, but it has made a big difference.

Tip: Don’t remove the last 100 users who followed you as they may not have engaged with you as they just arrived. If you run this tool every few months, they will still show as inactive, you can remove them then.

How To Use Unfollow

Log in with your Instagram account. Click Follower (those are the users who follow you). Then choose Select, followed by who you would like to see; either Nonfollowing or Ghost followers. A little description will pop up explaining the audience type you have selected. Make your choice. The relevant users will then come up in a “blue highlighted bubble“. Then select Action and the app will block all irrelevant users. (You can also add to a white list but that seems a bit pointless as they’re not positive followers, they’re negative followers.)


This will cause your overall follower number to drop on your profile. Blocking users is essentially removing them in as much as they do not count towards your overall follower number and will not be able to see any of your content.

Enjoying a Pure Account

You should see an increase in engagement as you remove inactive followers. Your community will grow stronger because people are actually able to see your content and engage. I’d love for my account to grow faster, but real, genuine people/users are far more important than the numbers. Anyone can pay for numbers, no one can buy a genuine following.



  • Really enjoyed this and found it really useful. I’m checking ghost followers/inactive followers as we speak!

    • How funny! I looked at YOUR blog this morning for your foundation review!
      Glad we could help each other out 😀
      I’m busy looking up a new unfollow tool as I think the app has had some issues since IG
      is trying to clean up their botting tools – because this one worked like a dream and now won’t load.
      I’ll let you know if I find a decent alternative 🙂

  • Thanks for this Post Meg! Trying to learn and navigate Instagram, create fun and interesting content and build an Authentic following and do it with Integrity. Really enjoy your Instagram stories!

  • Emma M says:

    I never gave a thought to brands following me, simply just smiled at them. Now i know they are not good for my engagement because I agree with you that they just follow and sit there. Definitely going to use IG Audit regularly. Thanks Meg.

    • Absolute pleasure Emma!
      Sorry for the delayed response.
      Look, it’s tricky when it comes to brands because every time they follow you, you get your hopes up that they may be interested in a collaboration!
      But when I look at the data and look to see who is or isn’t engaging, 9/10 times, it’s brands who are just sitting there.
      So some brands (that I love) I won’t block simply because I love them lol
      But if it’s a brand that’s dormant, bye Felicia!

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