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Everything About Ghost Followers on Instagram (2024)

Ghost followers on Instagram may be killing your engagement. Discover how to get rid of ghost followers using two proven methods.
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Everything About Ghost Followers on Instagram
Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

Ghost followers are inactive or fake followers who don’t interact with your content

They can hurt your engagement and content views

You can remove them manually or with automated tools 

Ghost followers on Instagram are a larger problem than most account owners realize. Your profile is likely to get random followers – it’s natural and what you want – but not all of these accounts are your ideal followers.


Let’s explore what a ghost follower is and how to identify them.

What are Ghost Followers?

Ghost followers can be one of two things:

  • Inactive accounts
  • Fake accounts

These followers are classified as “ghosts” because they don’t engage with your posts. You won’t find a ghost liking, sharing or commenting on your posts. It’s natural to have some ghost followers, and the larger your account, the more ghosts you can expect to have.

Even the influencers that you follow and have a huge following have ghost followers. In fact, one study found that 25% of influencers purchase followers – many are bots.

Identifying ghost followers is easy.

How To Identify Ghost Followers on Instagram?

Open your Instagram app or go to your account on your browser and open your follower list.  Randomly check a few accounts to look for signs that they’re ghost followers who:

  • Follow a lot of accounts
  • Have very few followers
  • Post very infrequently or at all
  • Don’t have a profile picture

The account’s profile may be filled out, empty or have a suspicious link in it.

Some of these accounts may be real, but most of them are either bots or accounts that people or brands have abandoned. 

What’s Wrong with Having Ghost Followers?

So, you have a few random accounts that you consider “ghosts.” What’s the big deal? The account adds to your overall follower count, which is good, but they’re hurting you more than they help you.


1. They Lower Your Engagement Rate

Engagement is the key to social media success. Imagine an account with 1 million followers that receives only 200 likes on a photo. You might think, “With a million followers, this is a valuable account,” but you may find an account with 20,000 followers that receives 200 likes per photo.

The second account is far more valuable, especially to advertisers.

Engagement rates matter and are calculated with an easy equation of (interactions / total followers) * 100.

Based on this Equation, We Find that the Account with:

  • 1 million followers has a 0.02% engagement rate
  • 20,000 followers has a 1% engagement rate

Engagement on the second account is much higher, leading to your followers trusting your advice and interacting with you more. Sponsoring a post on the second account will likely be more profitable and worthwhile than purchasing a post on the first account.

Of course, engagement will also include comments on your post and will be a part of your total “interactions.”

2. They Hurt Your Credibility

Ghost accounts to damage your credibility. Advertisers and followers don’t want to be duped into following an account that has an inflated follower count from:

  • Bots
  • Buying followers

When working with brands and landing sponsorships, ghost accounts will damage your credibility. Your followers and engagement are a selling point, and if 50% of your followers are ghosts and no one engages with your content, your credibility can be damaged.

You can try to remove fake followers and ghost accounts, but it’s an uphill battle.

Reader’s Digest reports the following percentage of these celebrities’ followers are fake:

  • 28.6% of Paris Hilton
  • 27.9% of Kourtney Kardashian
  • 27.2% of Miley Cyrus
  • 25.7% of Justin Bieber

For these celebrities, around 1-in-4 of the accounts that follow them on Instagram are fake or ghost accounts. Brands, such as Nike, also have the same problem. Often, ghost accounts will follow other accounts with a large following to look real.

It’s not uncommon for people to follow Nike, which has 303 million followers, or Justin Bieber, who has 292 million followers.

Since these accounts have tens or hundreds of millions of followers, their credibility will be hurt much less than someone with 100,000 followers and 30,000 of them are ghost accounts.

On top of losing a bit of credibility, you risk your content not being seen.

3. Your Content May Not Be Seen

Instagram’s algorithm displays posts that users want to see based on posts they’ve liked or commented on in the past. 

Posts that don’t get much engagement won’t be shown on the Explore page or in recommended posts. Instead, your content will appear in the feeds of ghost followers who won’t even see, let alone like or comment on your posts.

Lack of interaction with your content will make it harder to grow your following naturally because Instagram won’t be showing content to others.

4. Ghost Followers Can Get Your Account Banned

Instagram is cracking down on fake followers, and they have closed down many third-party services that offer ghost followers.

There’s a real risk that Instagram may ban your account because of ghost followers or if you purchase followers.

How To Remove Ghost Followers?

Once you’ve identified your ghost followers, you can start taking steps to remove them. Removing these fake followers will help you start growing a real following and improve engagement with your content.

But how do you get rid of these “ghosts?”

1. Remove Them Manually

The best method for getting rid of ghost followers is to do it manually. Go through your followers list, identify the ghosts, and remove them.

If you have hundreds or thousands of followers, this can be a very time-consuming and tedious process. But it’s also the least risky.

2. Use a Tool to Detect and Remove Them

If you don’t have the time to remove ghost followers manually, you can use automated tools that allow you to:

  • Analyze your followers 
  • Identify the “ghosts”
  • Remove them

Some tools, like Sprout, will only identify your ghost followers. If you prefer the safer, manual removal method, you can use a tool like this to save you time when identifying the followers that you want to remove.

Other tools will also remove the ghost followers for you automatically. While this tool can save you a lot of time, it’s important to be cautious when using it. Removing followers en masse could potentially get your Instagram account banned. 

4 Tips For Preventing Ghost Followers

Ghost followers can make it harder to grow your following and get your content seen by new potential followers. One of the best things you can do is prevent these followers in the first place.

Here are Four Tips For Preventing Ghost Followers.

1. Don’t Purchase Followers

The best way to prevent ghost followers is not to purchase followers in the first place. It’s tempting to buy followers, especially since they are often available at such affordable prices. However, it’s important to remember that ghost followers only inflate your follower count and do little to help you improve engagement.

You’re less likely to have ghost followers if you don’t purchase them to begin with.

2. Don’t Purchase Instagram Accounts

Another way to prevent ghost followers is to avoid purchasing existing Instagram accounts. There are marketplaces online that allow you to purchase accounts that already have large followings.

It’s also tempting to purchase accounts because they save you a lot of time and hard work. 

However, Buying Accounts is a Huge Risk

  • The practice is against Instagram’s terms of service
  • The account’s followers are not likely to stick around

3. Don’t Purchase Likes and Comments

Purchasing likes and comments will not only increase your ghost followers, but it will also harm your engagement in the long run. 

When you buy likes and comments, you get a short-term boost in engagement. However, this is an unsustainable practice, and those who were paid to engage with your posts won’t engage with future posts.

4. Post High-Quality Content That Attracts Real Followers

If you want to prevent ghost followers, focus on creating content that attracts real followers. High-quality content is a tried-and-true way to increase your following.

Post photos and videos that appeal to your followers. Be consistent, and interact with your followers.

When you focus on creating the best content for your account, you will naturally grow your following.

Wrapping Up

Ghost followers can harm your credibility and lower engagement rates. Learning how to identify these followers is important. Taking steps to remove ghost followers and start building your following naturally will help you grow your Instagram account and avoid future ghost followers.

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