Why Your Follow / Unfollow Tactic on Instagram is Stupid, Lazy-Ass Marketing

Yeah, I see you follow me, then unfollow me less than 24 hours later if I haven’t followed you back, you sly fox.

What are you actually hoping to achieve here? I guess the end-game is to put your name or brand in front of me in the hope that I will follow you back, and therefore you will be one follower closer to…what? Being an Instagram ‘influencer’? Getting paid a couple of hundred bucks to snap a crappy iPhone selfie with product X from brand Y? If that’s the case and it works, good luck to you friend.

However, if you are a brand, consultant, freelancer or other such person genuinely trying to find leads & new customers on Instagram, here is why that tactic doesn’t and will never work — because the number of followers you have means absolutely stuff all. YEP. Disagree with me if you like, but let me tell you why I think this is true.

There’s an old saying that rattles around the traps that goes a little something like this: ‘People do business with people they like.’ In my years of corporate and freelance hustle, there is not a saying that rings truer to me. Sure, you need to output quality work in timely fashion, but I think that goes without saying. The key to your success will ultimately be whether your client or customer LIKES you. Whether you have built rapport with them. Whether you understand their business and the problem you are trying to solve for them. In short, whether you are ENGAGED with them.

When you are on the hunt for social leads, you need to treat your community (who are your prospects, potential customers & future collaborators) exactly as you would treat your current clients. You need to get to know them, show them support, understand their business, and genuinely engage with them. And when people feel seen and heard, they reward you with their loyalty. You are far more likely to convert a follower who has felt like a valued part of your tribe for a while, than one who followed you a while back, dishes out a few likes here and there, but generally gets lost in the quagmire. It’s relationship marketing 101, people.

So here are my top 4 reasons why I think that silly follow/unfollow tactic doesn’t work:

  1. It makes you look unprofessional;
  2. It makes you look like you don’t give a shit;
  3. It’s lazy — you’re foregoing forming an actual relationship in favour of something transactional & soulless; and
  4. It’s selfish — like it or not, it’s not all about you.

And here are 4 things you can do instead:

  1. Stop worrying so much about how many followers you have, it is not directly related to how many leads / sales you get, and focus more on engaging the followers you do have;
  2. Spend time generating quality content of your own that is of value to your ideal customer base, and share this consistently;
  3. Only follow accounts whose content you genuinely like — and give them a bit of love from time to time. You never know where your next customer will come from; and
  4. Build genuine relationships with potential collaborators and map out creative ways to get your content out to new audiences together.

In short, do the damn work! Sure, it will be a harder (and probably slower) slog to begin with, but I promise that the person who nurtures, engages and provides value to their audience is the one who will win the social war.

Oh, and P.S. if you actually had anything of value to say on your feed I would have definitely followed you back, yo.