#DontFollowThenUnfollow on Instagram

I treat all of my social networks differently. Since I am learning some new photography techniques, Instagram has become the place where I post the photos that I am most proud of.

I call it my happy place.

But some times, it isn’t.

Don't Follow Then Unfollow on Instagram

There is a new trend on Instagram that has happened to everyone who has an account there — and it goes like this:

  1. You post a photo that you love and tag it so that you can reach out to those who have similar interests.
  2. Someone connects with you (follows).
  3. You think ‘awesome, I’m connecting with my community.’
  4. You check them out and if you like what you see, then you follow them back.
  5. Within 1 – 3 days or sometimes immediately after you follow them, they unfollow you.
  6. You double check their profile and see that they have 20K followers and are only following 1K. Then you realize they just did this to 19K other people.

It’s that easy and it’s that stupid.

Is this the new direction that social media has taken? Has social media just become perceived influence media? Forget about the personal connections that can be made? Forget authentic communities? Forget basic kindness? Just get me more numbers than the next person without paying for them because that would be wrong.

I have news for you.

I now know you are pretending to be something you are not. I now know what you did to get your numbers. I now know the value you place on real connections and engagement.

No word of a lie. I had to sit beside someone recently at a travel event and listen to them go on and on about how it looks better that they only follow 100 people but 11,000 follow them. It was their goal to NOT be social on social media. THEN, they turned around and did it to me.

To begin a social relationship with someone by falsely following them when you don’t like anything about them says everything about your character.

Instagram Don't follow then unfollow people, it's rudeIf you want to reach out to someone on Instagram, but don’t want to follow them, there is always the like button and you can leave a comment. Other than that, tag your photos appropriately and people will find you.

I don’t care if someone I follow doesn’t follow me back. If I like their stuff, I like their stuff. I care when you pretend to like my account when you only like the extra number I provide if I follow you back.

How can I find out this is happening to me?

I use an iPhone/iPad app called Followers which links all of my accounts including Instagram. After you load it once, It will begin to track who is following then unfollowing you.

What can I do when someone does this to me?

You can unfollow them. You can also block them to send a message that you are not a commodity, you aren’t in high school, and you don’t play immature games. Then they can’t follow you again when they blindly follow people (which has happened to me by individuals, charities, and some people I used to respect in social media).

Well how do I grow my numbers?

BY FINDING YOUR REAL COMMUNITY AND BEING REAL. I’m so tired of amateurs just trying to figure out how to play the algorithms all the time. It must be tiring to continuously be something you are not.

How about just putting out quality stuff?

Follow (and keep following) people with similar interests online. Comment, interact, share, connect. Instagram is a social network.

Be social.

Don’t use people.

someone who wants her old Instagram back — before the people who only cared about numbers showed up.

Found in Online & Tech

Meet the Author

Sheri Landry

Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird's Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family's) daily activities.

10 comments… add one
  • Natasha Oct 19, 2016, 12:36 pm

    Couldn’t agree more!! I admit it can be discouraging sometimes, and I’m sometimes even tempted to do it myself… but I feel like integrity is more important. I don’t think there’s a shortcut to success, and it’s pretty obvious when people do the follow/unfollow. Hopefully brands will catch on too – a lot of bloggers do this to earn better income, which I totally get. It’s hard out there. It just doesn’t seem like a good way of going about business to me, though!

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Oct 19, 2016, 9:25 pm

      I agree, it is discouraging. When brands place their money on a number, it drives some to leave their integrity and decency at the door. Hang in there. It isn’t the number that matters. It’s the quality of community.

  • B Oct 13, 2016, 10:58 pm

    Right?! This is happening to me right now with my business account I have on Instagram.

    And here I was just SO FLATTERED that some big company with 20k followers was following ME! Lil’ ol’ me of all people. I must be SO SPECIAL, because after all, they are just SO selective about who they follow, obviously, seeing as how they follow only 1K.

    And it was all a dirty trick to get me to follow them.

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Oct 14, 2016, 8:35 am

      This says a lot about the company as well. I’ve had companies do the same thing to me. I don’t do business with anyone who treats others like they are a number. This is a great lesson for companies in choosing the right person to handle your social media accounts as well.

  • Janine Oda Oct 5, 2016, 4:08 pm

    Loved this! It really bummed /annoyed the shit out of me when I started to notice this happening to me especially from people I met in person and felt like we got along great. Only to find out they just wanted me to be apart of their fan club. I know better now. Thank you again I feel like you vented for all of us :-)

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Oct 11, 2016, 12:58 pm

      Thanks Janine. It is a giant bummer, but there are still a lot of great people out there who prefer connecting to using.

  • Sean Dillon Jul 7, 2016, 7:38 pm

    Well said, Sheri. I’m almost upset I even Googled this, but I’m glad you said something so I don’t have to! My new account on Instagram is set up for my professional speaking pursuits and I’m using it as the overflow/staging area for inspirational material I’m working on. It is so encouraging to be “reaching” people–even temporarily, but then using Followers, etc., you see that the unfollowers are a larger number than current followers. I’m trending at about 15-20% of my following disappearing in the first three days. It’s fine with me, but I certainly was curious and I’ve been on Instagram for years. I hope to be reaching the other 80% with something that will motivate them into taking action in their lives, before its too late to focus on something more important than perceived popularity. Those who know us always love us no matter what. Go with that, people. :) Great post.

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Jul 13, 2016, 12:07 pm

      Thanks for the comment Sean. It is really frustrating when this happens. You are right though, your community is in there somewhere and sometimes you need to wade through the sludge to get to the beautiful blue waters. Have a great day.

  • Joelle Feb 11, 2016, 11:42 pm

    YES!! You summed up perfectly how I feel about those types of people on Instagram (and everywhere else). I have actually had that happen to me three times this week. It is so sad that so many just follow others to use them as pawns so they follow back then discard them just to make themselves look good by boosting their followers. And for what? And it truly saddens me to say this, but in my experience it has been mostly women. Why can’t we just support one another in social media as there is truly enough recognition and success to go around? And just follow someone as an appreciation of what they offer to the world as their unique gift? Because to me whatever social media platform someone follows me on, I sincerely hope it is because they feel I have brought something positive and of value to their life. One can dream I guess, right? Great article. Hugs!

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Landry Feb 12, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Thank you for your comment Joelle. I completely agree with all of this. I am disillusioned as to how quickly the world of social media has devolved into ‘keeping up appearances’ versus kindness, compassion and the desire to connect with each other as human beings.

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