How many brands would be brave enough to cut half of their social media followers, losing the ones who hadn’t engaged with them for months? That’s exactly what is happening with many core Instagram users at the moment.
One of the many things that fascinates me about Instagram is the way a unique sub-culture and series of communities have grown up around the network in a relatively short (18 months) period of time (see an article I wrote for The Wall on the subject).
Most recently, there has been a trend among core Instagramers to do something interesting around their follower numbers. Instead of looking at the vanity metric of a large follower total, many are actually shedding followers. I’m one of those that did this. I used a 3rd party tool to lose 300+ followers, bringing me down from the psychologically important 1000 follower milestone, back down to 700.
Before moving onto why that is, it is worth outlining a group of services that now exist giving you intelligence on your Instagram account.
Statigram is not only one of the main free web services (along with Webstagram and Ink361) that allow you to view Instagram images online, it also (as the name implies) provides basic metrics around your account.
This includes best time to post per day, most successful filters (assuming you actually use IG filters and not 3rd party apps), a like and comment average, and a list of your most engaged followers. Useful info if you are running a company Instagram account, as well as a personal one.
Statigram has also started to run ads supporting Instagram competitions, we noticed Ford Fiesta using it to bring their campaign to the attention of Instagramers.
This iPhone application will tell you the minimum number of likes and comments you will probably need to get on the popular page / tab on Instagram. It compares the least popular image on the popular page with your most recent post in terms of likes, comments and the amount of time the post has been live.
This is an iPhone app that looks at your posts over the last 40 days and gives you a league table of your most engaged and least engaged followers based on comments and likes. A lot of Instagramers have been using it to get rid of dormant or ‘ghost’ followers. However, more recently they’ve been turning their attention to a tool that does the job automatically, namely:
IGexorcist is a free web-based tool that gets rid of inactive followers. Give it access to your account and it then shows you how many followers haven’t liked or commented on any of your images for the past 60, 90, 120 and 180 days. You can then completely purge the total, bringing your follower number down.
On my part, it told me I had 307 inactive followers over 180 days and 368 over 60 days. As an aside that told me that most IG users in my circles are active, and (given the fact that the 60 and 180 day totals weren’t vastly different) that if you stick with Instagram for a month or so, you are likely to keep going.
IGexorcist is popular because it automates the process of blocking and then unblocking a follower.
Why does it go through these two steps? Because the block / unblock route is the only real way to let a follower loose. And most committed Instagramers don’t do the first part of that and just block because of a belief that Instagram still counts a blocked follower as a follower when deciding who gets onto the popular page.
Which brings us onto the concept of ghost followers and ‘popping.’ Many Instagram biographies now include the words ‘no ghost followers.’
A ghost follower is someone who never interacts with you. That might be someone who has left Instagram. Or it may be, much like you still see on Twitter, Instagram users who follow huge numbers of other users en masse with the aim of in turn acquiring a big follower number.
Popping is Instagram speak for getting on the popular page. Doing so generally depends on having a large number of likes and comments in a very short (less than 15 mins) period of time, hence groups exist to deliberately members “pop.” In addition to having a concentrated number of likes for each post, most Instagramers believe that a smaller follower total gives you an advantage.
As a result, there is no benefit in having an artificially large follower number that is exactly that – just a number.
Though most brands now do understand the importance of a committed follower, the philosophy of the big number is still alive and well. By contrast, its interesting to see a group of core users of a social network embrace the concept of (as the IGexorcist site puts it) people over numbers.