This post was originally published on on February 16, 2016. Reposted with permission.  


Photo: Natalie Westerbeek

One of the number one questions people ask me in my workshop is: “how do I get more instagram followers?” I get it, we all have moments where we imagine what it must be like for a Kardashian to post a picture and almost immediately have their phone explode with so many ‘likes.’ (Full disclosure: I don’t think I’d ever want that many followers, but that’s for another blog post).

And then, much like a weightloss secret, someone always chimes in with “I heard from someone who has, like, a million followers that if you just keep following people, they’ll follow you back and then you can always unfollow later.”

This is called: Copy following (at least according to more social media savvy folks in a group I’m part of)

Say you really love a blogger, so you go to her page and see who she’s following and start following all of them, hoping they follow you back. That’s copy following. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to find people with similar interests as you, so long as your intention isn’t to gain fast followers.

And in 2016, instagram is tightening up and shutting down accounts that do this. It has already happened to someone I know, and it could happen to you. Just yesterday I saw a loop giveaway on instagram (anyone who knows me knows my disdain for these….) and guess how many accounts you had to follow in the loop to win the prize? 55. Fifty-five accounts to follow and like. I couldn’t believe it! No genuine interaction, no conversion to sales or clients, just fast followers because they want the prize. In the real life world, this is equivalent to only being someone’s friend or dating them because they might buy you nice things.

And now, instagram has changed their policy so you can only follow and unfollow 60 people per hour. Seriously guys, this makes me laugh, because can you imagine just following so many people that every hour they stop you? They’ll warn you and prohibit you from being able to do more, but if they notice too many follows and unfollows over and over your account will get shut down.

“Foster meaningful and genuine interactions.Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent.”  from Instagram’s Community guidelines. 

Couldn’t have said it better myself. All the more reason to be authentic on instagram. If you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it on instagram. If you don’t like seeing it on your feed, don’t post it yourself. I know, I know, I’m some kooky preacher of authenticity, but I just believe in it so strongly!(plus, we’ve all been there and have had someone like a bunch of our photos, follow us, and then unfollow almost immediately if we didn’t follow them right back. Oh, the psychology of instagram…sigh)

And remember, there’s no magic secret to building your followers. Just like getting in shape, anything that seems too good to be true probably is. If you’re consistently posting good content, thoughtful captions and engaging with your community, the followers will start to come.

Trust me because I’m right there with you. I don’t have near as many followers as a lot of people, but mine are a result of hard work, engagement and a feed filled with vulnerability. And earning something from hard work makes it feel so much better. Comment below and leave me your instagram account and I’ll be happy to come follow! I’m @botcomm if you’re interested in following my journey there.



Nicole is the founder of @botcomm and creator of brand[ED], the one day workshop for entrepreneurs to develop their business plan, learn social media, define their brand and practice photo styling. When she’s not traveling across Canada helping people find their sparkle, she’s busy behind the camera photographing portraits and spaces for various businesses and publications. She’s also proudly the mama of #ourguysaunders and could live off chocolate macadamias, green juice and pomegranates.

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