We've recently begun the journey to launching our nonprofit and are leveraging Instagram to build awareness.
The idea is to capture travel from adventure traveler's and photographers' viewpoints and share unique places and wildlife from off the beaten path. These places and the wildlife that inhabits them are often the focus of conservation organizations we are looking to support.
I'll share details on how we plan to raise money for these organizations, which organizations we've chosen, and a host of other information in later posts, but for now, I'd like to share the challenges of being an Instagram influencer.
They were both originally geared towards luxury travel, and their follower base was grown using every possible method imaginable with little regard for having a quality engaged audience.
Lesson number 1:
There are no shortcuts to becoming a social media influencer - it takes time and work.
So here we are; we have a robust number of followers, 17k and 25k, respectively. Is this enough to claim Instagram fame? Hardly. Remember, we started these pages under a different theme and with aggressive techniques to grow our followers. We needed to evaluate our audience and gradually pivot to focus on our new theme. This meant defining our brand's goals, reaching out to adventurers and photographers, asking for their support, and evaluating our followers' quality. It also meant that we would lose some of our followers.
There are many tools to help evaluate Instagram accounts and identify mass followers and suspicious accounts. We chose HypeAuditor. They provide a list of metrics to get you started, including an audience quality score which provided a baseline for our cleanup effort.
Lesson number 2:
Do not trust your account's cleanup to one of the hundreds of available applications to do a bulk cleanup. You may end up with a blocked or disabled account.
I wish I could say the simple push of a button would remove all of your ghost followers and improve your engagement numbers, but no such button exists. There is only one way to remove low-quality followers while adhering to Instagram's guidelines, and that's by manually blocking them (or removing them on personal accounts).
On an Instagram Business Account, this is a manual process and as you can imagine, going through 20,000 followers is a chore. You must select each follower, click the three stacked dots to the right of their username, select "block," click "block" again on the next screen and acknowledge by clicking "ok" in the last screen. Now repeat 20,000 times. Do this in bite-size pieces as Instagram limits the number of actions you can take in a given day. You can see why growing your follower base organically is the best way to ensure your audience base is worthy of future monetization.
So how do you know if a follower account is fake? Again, there is no 100% correct answer, but I can share my findings after eliminating a few thousand suspicious accounts. You can use these characteristics to eliminate the vast majority of Ghost followers:
No profile picture (also be wary of cartoon characters, pet or animal photos, provocative photos, or anime images)
0 posts (or only 10-12 posts all created at the same time)
A few posts with massive numbers of followers/following
Private accounts with 0 posts
Username composed of long strings of random variables
This process is slow and tedious. Consider it the price for not doing your housecleaning regularly in your quest to become Instagram famous. Artificially boosted followers are of zero value to you and any prospective advertisers.
Let me know your thoughts.