Why I remove followers

There’s nothing wrong with wanting loads of followers and that’s often why people hire me as a social media freelancer. But your existing followers can be counterproductive to that goal. There are a few different reasons I remove followers. So in this article, I’m going to explain;

  1. Why I remove followers.
  2. How I remove them.

Why remove followers?

Reason #1 – I want an audience that is going to show social media algorithms which type of person I want to be recommended to

Instagram and Twitter are made up of micro cultures.

People within a microculture are likely to follow influencers, brands and other users within that culture. The internet has allowed us to slot in with other people who match our interests specifically. I don’t know anyone in real life who read the same books as I do, but on the internet, there are hundreds of thousands of women who read as much as me, who read the same kind of books as me, at the same times as me. So this becomes very easy for everyone from publishers to people selling T-shirts saying ‘Strong female lead’ to target me. Curating an audience of people who buy from you is extremely important. One individual may be part of many different microcultures, but usually, about 5. Successful influencers focus on one culture, usually.

So whereas in 2012 we might have been interested in targeting Mummy bloggers. Now we can target different audiences with higher detail. Do you want a breastfeeding, babywearing, eco-conscious, forest schooling Mum? Or do you want a prosecco drinking, glamorous, yummy mummy with a big Land Rover?

Once we tap into these little audiences, social media algorithms are very good at recommending followers to us that fit within these boundaries but they also begin recommending our profile to these people as well.

Look at how Instagram has very nicely recommended a food blogger who would be the perfect person for me to engage with and follow on one of the food brands I manage. She isn’t following a huge amount of people, so is likely to respond to comments and likes. She produces good content and it’s specifically about baking, which is relevant to our product. She is also followed by some of the other foodies we already follow, so clearly we all have something in common.

If I have an audience of plenty of people who fit these descriptions I can chose to advertise to people who the algorithm thinks is similar (I’ve found that Instagram/Facebook ‘lookalike’ audiences can usually outperform any ‘interest’ targeting I could set up). Hopefully, Instagram will start recommending me to people like her too because it recognises that they like to follow us.

If you’re followed by irrelevant people who are just looking to get a follow back; such as a Malaysian plastic surgeon and a Brazillian car dealer, this confuses the algorithms. A small % of your audience outside of your target demographic won’t hurt, but a large % will.

Reason #2 – Your audience needs to be as engaged as possible

A follower who never engages with your content needs to be removed, even though you are losing that metric (which I wont lie, is important). Some people say they DGAF about follower count, well I do very much GAF about it, but in order to get more followers, we need more engagement.

Instagram and Facebook show your new post to a small % of your audience, if it gets high engagement within that test period, they’ll show it to the rest of your followers and even beyond to the realms of the Instagram ‘Explore’ page. However, if it gets low engagement, it decides that your content isn’t that great and doesn’t let it have as many impressions. This is why the growth on my personal Instagram has been stagnant for a while, I like to post about a few different things, so if I post about parenting this isn’t going to appeal to the people who have followed me for other reasons. Where as if I only posted about parenting, and my followers were all interested in that, I’d get much higher engagement. Luckily this isn’t as much as a problem for business accounts as you’re probably only producing content about a few narrow topics, unless you’re John Lewis or something.

People who aren’t in your niche or who clearly are only following you to fulfil their own ego or follower count are unlikely to engage. As are people who follow tens of thousands of people. So they are less useful to you.

How to remove a follower

On Instagram:

Go to your profile by tapping in the bottom right on the Instagram app. Tap Followers at the top of the screen. Tap Remove to the right of the follower you’d like to remove, then tap Remove to confirm.

On Twitter:

While there isn’t an official way to remove a follower from your account, you can revoke selected followers’ access to your Twitter feed by blocking and then unblocking them; doing so will remove them from your follower list without alerting them to the change.

On Facebook:

  1. From your News Feed, click Pages in the left menu.
  2. Go to your Page, then click Page Settings in the bottom left.
  3. Click People and Other Pages in the left menu.
  4. Click to check the box next to the person you want to remove.
  5. Click and select Remove From Page Likes.
  6. Click Confirm.

Why I care about followers

It’s fashionable for social media managers to say that it’s not about follower count, it’s about sales, or engagement or something. But I really feel like they say this so that the pressure to get new followers is lifted.

A follow on social media, or a like or a comment is a tiny bit of social proof. If I see a company ad and the company already has lots of followers on Facebook or Instagram, I see that they have thousands of mini endorsements, maybe it’s a good page to follow or brand to buy. If I see an ad from a company that has very few followers, I wonder if they’re legit or if I can trust them. I wonder if I should bother to have them show up in my newsfeed permanently.

To say that people get big egos from having hundreds and thousands of social media followers for no reason is naive. Plus the more people who are subscribing to your content, the better, even if they aren’t going to buy. Followers who have an interest in you or aspire to buy are important too. Gucci have 40.8 million followers, do all the people who follow Gucci buy from them? I doubt it.

So we want followers, but we want the right ones. Don’t be afraid to remove those dud followers and get a more streamlined, highly engaged audience.

note: You can’t really do this on Facebook pages because most of the time you won’t be able to see your follower’s personal page, but the social pressure to have Facebook friends is less than the pressure to have Instagram or Twitter followers. So they likely are following you because they genuinely want to see your content.

If you are an agency: Explain to your client why their follower count will initially drop. If you’re taking over from another agency, it’s possible that unethical ways of inflating follower count have been used and the fake or disingenuous followers need to be removed before you even start with content.