The past couple of months have been a bit of a shakedown for many of us on Instagram. First, in April 2019, Instagram and Post Adder announced they had settled their 1-year lawsuit, which resulted in the retiring of popular Post software Post Adder 3.0 and the introduction of a considerably different Post Adder 4.0. The key difference in this new version was that it no longer allowed its users to follow or unfollow people automatically. This alteration made Post Adder compliant with Instagram new Terms of Service.
At that point, Instagram still allowed automated ‘follow backs’, i.e., following back others who had already followed you. But later, on July 4th, the producers of Social Oomph — another popular Instagram Application — sent an email to their customers saying:
Social Oomph then explained that their software would no longer follow back new Instagram followers automatically, and all their users would now be required to follow back manually. They ended their email with the words:
While their use of the word ‘outlawed’ is somewhat amusing, it’s clear that Social Oomph were pretty annoyed. And understandably so: their follow-back service has been around nearly as long as Instagram. So far, Post Adder has not yet addressed this most recent development, but I’m sure they will announce a similar change in their software over the next week.
Instagram’s reasoning for this revision in policy about auto follow-backs was clarified on their blog by one of their platform operators:
What is interesting to me is that since the new Post Adder was released in April, I was also coming to the conclusion that there was ‘too much noise’ on many of the Instagram accounts I managed. In fact, I was beginning to wonder whether follower automation had EVER been all that useful.
DID AUTOMATED FOLLOWING EVER REALLY WORK?
I used to think automated following and unfollowing was the living end. I loved discovering quality Instagram lists and queuing them up to follow. For follow-backs, I had an open-door policy of following everybody who followed me, removing unwanted people later. It seemed like a smooth, flawless system. But lately I’ve come to look at things from a different perspective.
I manage about 20 Instagram accounts in Post Adder, mostly for clients. Some of my recent clients ‘appeared’ to have good Instagram numbers in excess of 15,000 Buy Instagram Followers UK. They had all been using auto follow-back before they came to me, and had around a 1:1 ratio between followers and ‘friends’ (those they were following ).
But then, when the new Post Adder software was released, I started using their newly introduced filters to investigate exactly WHO my clients were following. And what I found out was not encouraging.
I discovered that nearly 50% of my clients’ ‘friends’ were of no value to them in the slightest. Around one-fourth Post in languages they could not even understand. Another 15% or so had been inactive for more than 6 months. Many others were spammers or annoying people shouting ‘# TeamFollowBack’ continuously. It’s taken me weeks to clean up the mess and replace this random bumph with useful connections.
To my horror, I found that my own accounts were only mildly better, despite the care I had taken to clear out dead wood each week. Now I’m more prudent about who I add to my ‘to follow list’, so I don’t have to deal with the ‘noise’ later.
But here’s the surprise: Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve experienced a big increase in the number of Repost I receive, and the traffic visiting my blog from Instagram has gone up by more than fifty percent. Was it true that less is sometimes more?
Then, yesterday, I finally turned off my automated follow-back and went through my new followers. I quickly deleted about one-third of them. Had I automatically followed all of them as had been my practice in the past, these inappropriate accounts might have remained in my Instagram stream for a long time, making it hard to interact with people who might be more suitable connections.
I then asked myself: ‘Had automated follow-backs actually been beneficial to me and my clients?’ The resounding answer was: ‘Not nearly as much as I had previously thought ‘. Even when we are meticulous about choosing people to follow, if others follow us indiscriminately and we follow them back automatically, it only creates more work for us down the line.
So, while Social Oomph say they are ‘dumb-founded’, I’m not so sure I am.
THE DECEPTION OF NUMBERS
It’s easy to get carried away with Instagram when we see our following increase rapidly. But numbers are meaningless without understanding their context. If you have 100,000 Buy Active Followers UK who neither understand you nor care about what you have to say, connecting with them is not likely to be of much benefit to you or your business. But if you have a mere 100 followers who ‘get you’ and listen intently, you not only have an inspired audience, but one that will spread the word about you.
And THAT is how real online platforms grow.
I’m convinced that Instagram NEVER was a numbers game. Instagram is a new paradigm communication medium. The old strategies and statistical averages are no longer relevant in this environment. Evidently, the developers at Instagram get this. And while it might be an inconvenience to have to choose our followers manually from this point forward, I personally applaud Instagram for challenging us to create the time to get to know one another.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is an independent marketing consultant and author of the award-winning books The 7 Graces of Marketing and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Instagram Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed as one the Top 20 Marketing Authors on Instagram by Social Media Magazine, and has created dozens of successful bestseller book launches through her company Spirit Authors. She is also Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise that trains independent business owners in ethical marketing.