Follow, Unfollow, Follow, Unfollow

All the “creative” ways of gaining followers

Fake followers are a huge thing. With many brands still using reach (follower size) as a benchmark for influencers payment, it is incredibly important to know the quality and “real-ness” of these followers that brands are paying for! We’ve already talked about them numerous times but it can never be enough.

What we’ve talked before: 

Even though the problem of fake followers have been heavily discussed and Instagram has also put in place efforts to occasionally clean up space, users are still finding new and creative ways to increase their follower size. While yes, the influencer may have more followers, boosting the profile number but the real-ness and quality remain questionable.

Here are some of the ways users gain followers (in nonorganic/ traditional ways). Stay all the way to the end of the read where we discuss one of the most unconventional methods and how we can tackle them!



One of the most direct and commonly used methods to gain followers in the shortest time is to purchase fake accounts. Even though many fake bots account has been banned, there are still multiple sources to purchase these accounts – just do a quick Google search and you’ll see them.

These accounts are often managed by bots who not only follow but also perform engagement tasks like likes and comments. These bots inflate an influencer’s social media performance which is detrimental to brands who used one of the most common metric, cost per engagement (CPE). With influencers asking hundreds or thousands for each post, a genuine performance is imperative!

Popular Chips’ proprietary platform intelligence technology is able to study and understand the behavior and characteristics of these fake accounts, providing brands with a percentage that would help them choose the most suitable influencer.



Some quick statistics: the #L4L on Instagram has over 146 million posts and #F4F has over 140 million. These are just posts containing the hashtag, not to even mention the number of comments.

#L4L (likes for likes) and #F4F (follow for follow) are just some of the commonly used tags for users who wish to “trade followers and engagement” on Instagram. This doesn’t even include other forms of tags such as #followback with more than 81 million posts, #likesforlikes with 48 million posts and the list goes on…

Some users use this variety of tags amidst the string of hashtags in their caption to get into this “trade community” and from there, gain more followers and boost performance from others with similar goals. These hashtags can also be found in the comments of popular accounts/ celebrities where it has essentially become a marketplace for them.


These spam comments drastically reduce the quality of an influencer’s comment section and prevent genuine fans from communicating with the influencer or other fans alike. For brands who intend to work with influences (especially top tiers/ celebrities) can request influencers to turn on comment filtering, which is something that Taylor Swift is using. This feature on Instagram basically block off comments based on specified phrases (eg: l4l, f4f), thus reducing the noise and non-quality comments.



Have you ever received a follower request from an Instagram account that is completely foreign to you and realized that the request has been withdrawn after a while? It is probably someone using the follow-unfollow method.

The follow-unfollow method is basically what it sounds like. The user would first mass follow numerous random accounts, in hope that these accounts would respond and follow back. After that, the user would unfollow those same accounts in order to not increase their following number.

Essentially, it is a method to “get attention” and follow from accounts to push up their follower size while maintaining the following number. While some of those accounts that do eventually follow back are real people, they may not be the most quality and authentic follower. As they did not follow organically, these followers usually may not appreciate the influencers’ content or would unfollow them after a period of time.

For brands, this means the same thing. These followers are most likely not the real quality audience that would eventually become a potential consumer of any influencer content.

There were no available platform or software that could help brands identify influencers who have used this method to boost their follower numbers until now – Popular Chips is offering just that.

Popular Chips makes use of AI technology identify fake bots and inactive followers on Instagram, providing brands with a combined percentage that indicates the authenticity and quality of influencers’ followers.

Statistics from Popular Chips

Statistics from Popular Chips

Its latest addition is the follow and unfollow detection which identifies users/ influencers who made use of this unconventional method to increase their following size. By understanding the behavioral pattern behind this method, Popular Chips‘ proprietary technology detects the behavior of each and every Instagram account to see their frequency of following and unfollowing other accounts.

Its technology is capable of understanding if a user is using the method manually or with the assistance of an automated bot. To distinguish between an “All Good” and “Suspicious account”, the technology focuses on the frequency and volume of following and unfollowing accounts.


Users’ behavior on social media is ever changing and users are always finding new ways to increase engagement and follower numbers on Instagram. As we expect more unconventional methods to come, analytics software needs to constantly adapt to the evolving landscape and that’s exactly what Popular Chips is doing!

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