Ads 468x60px

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dropping Who You Follow on Instagram

I like entering in giveaways. For a while, I was entering in lots of Instagram giveaways. I had to stop though. Not because I wanted to, but because I hit a limit of Instagram. You can only follow 7,500 people/companies on Instagram. You can get as many followers as you want.  For me...  the two numbers were nearly the same with just over 7,500 followers and just under 7,500 following.

Due to hitting that limit, I had to stop entering some giveaways. The primary reason I hit the limit was Instagram loop giveaways. I've posted about Instagram loop giveaways in the past. Entering involves following a group of Instagrammers. You have to follow each and everyone one of the instagrammers for the entry to count.
Once you hit the Instagram following limit, you have to unfollow someone before you can follow a different account. Sounds easy but how do you pick who to unfollow? And.... how can you unfollow lots of people quickly without having to go through your list of followings and figure out if you should unfollow each one separately?

Before I figured out how to do it, I had to figure out who to unfollow...  I set the following rough criteria. These weren't absolute criteria nor were they inclusive where they had to match all. I was just going to use them to help identify accounts I should look at more closely.

  • no posts - if they haven't posted, there is no reason I should follow them, even if I knew them personally.
  • no posts in a long period of time - again, if they haven't posted lately, there is no reason I should follow them.
  • private account - most of the accounts I follow are for bloggers or stores. If the account is private and I'm following, it more than likely happened after I followed them.
  • no profile picture - if you're serious about Instagram, you're going to have a picture. It might not be you, but you'll put something there.
  • not following me - this was more of a secondary option I checked. I didn't care if a business didn't follow me. However, if someone had a couple thousand followers and wasn't following anyone, I looked more closely at them.
  • age of account - How long ago did I start following them? If it was a long time ago, I wanted to make sure they were still relevant. This isn't visible as a date but as you scroll through who you are following, this appears to show the list chronologically. So... someone on my last page of followers would be those I followed first.
Now.... how to get rid of people... I first searched Google for "Instagram unfollow" and.... this was totally useless. It pointed to all sorts of tools to detect when someone unfollows me. This wasn't what I was after. After a few more failures, I finally figured out that the best option was a Chrome extension, a plugin I could add to my browser that would scan my Instagram page and give me the tools to then choose who to unfollow.
The tool I ended up picking was Helper Tool for Instagram. Nothing I found gave me everything I wanted. The biggest thing lacking was showing dates, either date of last post or date of when I started to follow, if that is even available. It did however show how many posts someone had, how many people they follow, how many people follow them, and if they're private. Oh... and the picture thing which wasn't in my list of first criteria, but became more relevant as I was looking at different accounts.

The tool requires you to load your Instagram page. It than adds some buttons to the page to tell the extension to do its thing. The tool then took a few hours to scan all my users, limiting requests as Instagram won't let you make requests too frequently. Afterwards, I was able to load the data into a spreadsheet and examine the data.

After the first go round, I was able to rid myself of about a hundred or so people I was following that weren't worth keeping. This included accounts which had "closed" in their name / description, or some other indicator that the person/store closed shop. Others moved their account to another with a point to the other. Typically... I was already following the other so those were unfollowed, too.

I still have more work to do as I didn't get rid of that many accounts I was following. However, I do have some breathing room such that I don't feel bad following someone back or because I want to get entries in another giveaway. I never knew about the 7,500 follower limit but it is certainly there and can't be overcome. Anyone following more accounts was grandfathered in from prior to the limit being established. I wasn't one of them, nor do I really want to be following that many accounts. 

If you're in the same boat, do check for browser extensions/plugins to help do the dirty work. I couldn't find any standalone app / web page that really helped here to cull down the masses. And... I'm a bit more selective about who I follow. I used to follow everyone even if the giveaway requirement was only a view of the Instagram account. Now... if it says View, that is all I do. I might like something to, but I'll only follow if there is something worth following. Good content really helps. And... thanks if you follow my JavaJohnZ Instagram account.... Shooting for 10K followers by end of year... We'll have to see when I break through...

*Read my Disclosure


  1. Wow I didn't know that about Instagram, either. It seems silly they would have a limit, when they keep wanting more people on the site.

  2. I am in the same boat. I can't remember when I hit the limit of 7500 but that's when I learned about the limit. I honestly don't want to be following this many people because I can never scroll through my feed or stories in a timely manner but I do not unfollow someone just to give me room. So I manually went through and did as you said, looked for those that had not posted in a while, a fairly long while, then looked at businesses I didn't care to follow. But it is so slow. After a while I started another account and I hardly ever do Instagram loops. It's just too many. I would have to go back and look to see when I started my second account but I'm already following nearly 6,000. I'm not going to start another account but I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I am much more selective who I follow though. Please let us know if you find an easy way to do this. And I get aggrivated about Twitter because bloggers won't follow us back to help our ratio. I do understand why but it puts us in a bind when we max out. Facebook also has a limit therefore I'm very selective and still have my one account. But I'm going to have to come up with something and/or just not participate in nearly as many giveaways, which I've already cut back, and not follow nearly as many bloggers. Of course you are not on that list. I do enjoy your blog. Thanks and for my ongoing comment.

  3. Hadn't thought about the 2nd account approach...