Just like all that glitters is not gold, not every Instagram follower is legit and actually brings value to your account. There are multiple reasons why your Instagram account has these ghost followers: sometimes, competitors buy bots to follow you and thus ruin your account; on occasions, this might be done by yourself (un)consciously with the idea to grow your Instagram account.

⚡️Spoiler: bots, ghost followers, faux followers – no matter which name you prefer – won't be even a bit helpful if you want to grow your Instagram profile.

This blog will touch upon why bots are harmful to your account, how to spot them and get rid of them once and for all.

Why Ghost Instagram Followers Are Bad for Your Account

Buying or acquiring such followers any other way will do no good for your account. At best, it won't do anything to your profile at all. In a worse scenario, your account will gradually lose its reach and engagement, and on top of that, it might even end up being blocked by Instagram.

Let's consider why it's unsafe to grow your Instagram with faux followers. Three years ago, it was neither good nor bad to have fake followers on Instagram. Today, however, bought followers can do significant damage to your profile and even reputation negating all your financial efforts.

Here’s why:

  • Buying Instagram followers will slowly kill your account. When you prioritise quantity over quality, you don’t give it a chance to attract a real audience that will later become your clients. As a result, real people that are potentially interested in your product or services won’t even see your content on Instagram.
  • Modern Instagram algorithms detect bots quickly and delete these accounts. Sometimes, Instagram can even block your own account for having such followers.
  • You won’t be able to analyse your account’s real performance. With many bots in your followership, you can’t estimate the real engagement, reach, number of genuine followers, etc. You won’t be able to detect if your efforts and costs are effective or not, either. Thus, social media management becomes a waste of time.
  • Buying Instagram followers makes Instagram algorithms work in the wrong way and slows down an organic Instagram promotion.
  • Bots will never buy your products nor ever visit your website; thus you're wasting your ad budget and time for content creation in vain.  

💡Suggested read: How to Set an Instagram Ad Budget

So when you pay for bots, you just buy dead weight, plain numbers that don’t reflect the reality. Besides, these bots are often fake followers from different countries who are not interested in your Instagram or your business at all.

Signs of Fake Followers on Instagram

A red flag is that with many followers, you gain few likes and comments – your engagement is low. This might mean your audience isn’t genuine and consists of bots.

💡Suggested read: How to Organically Increase Instagram Engagement Rate in 2022

Instagram bots are typically empty (or nearly empty) accounts that follow many other pages. So if you see that a person doesn’t have any content on Instagram or follows hundreds of other accounts, there's a 99% chance that you've found a bot.

Here are a few other signs that might tell the account is a bot:

  • Username consists of random letters and numbers;
  • No profile picture at all or a photo of a celebrity, animal, or a generic stock photo;
  • Unusual following/followers ratio: such accounts typically have thousands of followings with too few followers.
  • Too low engagement rate: typical ER on Instagram is between 1.5-3% depending on the niche and the size of the audience. ER of ghost followers and bots is usually lower than 1%. Such followers won't typically engage with your content.
  • Too much activity and then – too little: they post, like, comment, and follow a lot within the first days until they get the number of followers they need to look legit. Once they do, the activity stops. Genuine followers are steadily active all the time.
  • Their content is overly promotional or there's none at all;
  • Empty, generic, or copied bio;
  • Spammy useless emoji comments;
  • Their followers and followings lists consist of accounts just like them.

If you realise that your account is full of bots and you’re sure you never bought any, there must be a reason for this: you have either worked with an unprofessional social media manager or your competitors are trying to destroy your Instagram page, leading bots to follow you. In any case, you need to purge your account from such users.

Surely, some of the real users can have the above signs too, so it’s hard to tell if your audience is full of bots. Unless you find the right tool.

Instagram Followers Audit with Combin Growth

Combin machine-learning enhanced analysis determines interaction with inefficient accounts and posts with 90% accuracy. Such attributes as followers and following quantity ratio, amount of posts, publishing frequency, advertisement presence, and different interrelationships between them are taken into account during the analysis.

Besides finding new solid accounts by hashtags and locations related to your brand or among followers and commenters of your competitors, the search analysis may and need to be used for your own followers as well.

Fostering relationships with the existing audience is rewarding: seeing the mutual interest, the audience is more likely to remain devoted, engage with the content more than before, buy your product or service, and spread the word about you.

To check if your audience is genuine and real, install the tool on your PC or Mac.

  1. Open the Search tab. Pick User search by Followers.

2. Type in your username into the specialized field.

3. Specify the number of search results.

4. Make sure the search analysis is enabled and click Find.

5. After getting the first batch of 500 followers, update the search to load 500 more items. Push the refresh button as many times as needed for your followers' quantity.

6. To make your results even more specific and precise, hide Relevant users in the Hide tab or sort the results by ER or f/f ratio.

Keep your engagement with real followers frequent and regular to maintain the relationship and build up a loyal audience. Enable search analysis and sort out interaction with inefficient accounts before interacting with your followers. Your daily allowed amount of likes, comments and follow-backs is limited by Instagram, so it’s better to use your actions wisely.

How to Get Rid of Instagram Bots and Avoid Them

Report or Remove Fake Followers

The most actionable way to clear your Instagram of fake followers is to report them or remove them from your followers' list.

To do this, simply follow these steps:

  • Find the profile you want to report.
  • Tap the three dots at the top right of their profile (on iOS or Android).
  • Hit Report or Remove.

The Bottom Line

Prioretise quality over quantity – many followers on Instagram don't mean your account is healthy, and those followers are legit. Using Combin Growth, you will be able to realise if the followers are worth the time, effort, and money you spend on content and ads.