I’ve talked several times on Instagram live streams about a method of growing your audience called Follow/Unfollow or the F/UF Method.
It’s widely encouraged and taught by the Insta-gurus and you can even pay for apps to hack into Instagram’s API (application programming interface. I googled it.) With these apps, you’ll usually pay a monthly fee and then use your login credentials. Then, you’ll edit your settings to how many and how often you want the follow/unfollow to run, etc. How awesome that you don’t even have to manually do it! I highly recommend this!
If using an app, you don’t even really need to be on Instagram – heck, while you’re at it, go ahead and set up auto-comments and likes too. Be sure to use really generic comments, like, “Great shot!” “This is beautiful!” “Love your gallery!” And of course, any series of emojis are a great idea, especially 👍 and 👌.
What is Follow/Unfollow?
It’s by far the best and most genuine way to grow an engaged, authentic community on Instagram. You follow as many accounts as possible, and then hope that they follow you back, just out of kindness or what’s often termed The Law of Reciprocity. Otherwise known as, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Then, after the poor schmuck follows you, you then UNfollow them, Ha! And hope they just don’t notice! That way, you grow that number of people following you, but keep the number of people you follow down to a reasonable number.
(Let’s call this the Cool Ratio. Yup – tons and tons of people follow you, because you’re AWESOME. But you don’t follow many people at all, because you’re too awesome and only follow the most awesome of accounts.)
Does it work? Yes, it works magically! There are so many people on Instagram who have never heard of F/UF that you’ll easily dupe at least 30% of people into following you back. The best part is that the total newbies are clueless! They’ll be so touched that you thought so highly of them and their photos, that you want to be their friend, that they’ll happily follow back and start engaging with your posts.
The problem is when these folks get wise and hear about apps that you can use to see who unfollowed them. Ahhhh…. Darn it!
Ya know, I put off getting one of those apps for the longest time. (There are a ton of apps that do this – I use a free one called Followers+ but there are many out there.) Why did I put it off? Because in my head, I didn’t want to focus or even know if there were people that unfollowed me. Who cares? Why do I care? Am I going to overanalyze it and get my feelings hurt and assume that I’m not good enough to follow? Will I assume that my latest picture sucked and they just couldn’t take it anymore? Why would I cause such psychological harm to myself? Ignorance is bliss.
But at some point, I gave in and got the app. And I looked. And what I found was that most of unfollowers were bloggers with tons of followers….employing the F/UF technique. Some were people that surprised me, that I thought were my BFF’s, but I put on my big girl Elsa panties and let it go.
And guess what else I did? (Insert evil villain laughter) I unfollowed them right back.
Why? Because I’m all about revenge and unfollowing someone is a perfect little insult? Nah. Because I didn’t want their silly game to work. At least, it wasn’t going to work on me.
Why should you use the F/UF Method?
Because Instagram is all about fostering genuine community and tricking a bunch of rookies or ignorant users into following you…
Because Instagram is all about looking popular and having high numbers. Because you’ll look really impressive when someone goes to your account and you have tons of followers and their jaw will drop and they’ll think, “wow, you must be important. I should follow you.”
They won’t care about the quality of your posts or pictures. They’ll just be drawn to your obvious popularity. And hopefully you’re selling something. Anything. Because all of these gullible folks will be putty in your hands and buy anything from you, because they want to be loved and important too, just like you and all your oodles of followers.
Yes, there ya have it folks! The key to success in life is looking cool and popular and the key to that is F/UF!
While you’re at it, did you know you can BUY FOLLOWERS? Yes, amazing! For a small sum, you can buy actually buy fake followers. You can also buy likes and comments. Brilliant!
A less effective way to do this is by using certain hashtags, such as #followforfollow and #likeforlike and #f4f and such. I say less effective because hashtags are public. And everyone will know that you’re kinda desperate. We don’t want that. It’s important to look cool and popular, remember?
The very best thing about these methods is that you’ll have incredible engagement numbers too. Yup. You’ll have 20,000 followers and your latest post just got 5 likes. Wait a second… That doesn’t make you look cool. Or popular.
So there you have it, why employing the F/UF method is the best way to grow your instagram account.
Instead, if you’d like to do it the slow, old-fashioned way (kinda like diet and exercise vs. lipo) I’d recommend the following:
- Improve your photography through practice and education.
- Give thought to your words, in your bio and on your captions.
- Post regularly, a couple times a day to a few times a week and always spend time engaging with accounts you enjoy.
- Look for new accounts that you would enjoy and follow/engage with those accounts. I’d suggest looking through #followfridaymamas or going to a few popular hubs, like @clickinmoms, @camera_mama, @candidchildhood, or @thecandidclass, to name just a few. Find featured pictures that you like, and like, follow and engage with those photographers.
- Get featured on those hubs. I’d say that the number one way I’ve discovered new accounts I enjoy following is through hub features. It’s basically using the leverage of those hubs (who typically do have tons of genuine followers) and when they share your picture, you’ll typically get a little spike in followers yourself.
- And here’s your sales pitch. Wait for it… The best way to get featured on a hub is by using the less-trafficked theme hashtags. HubHack members don’t spend hours every week going around to all the hubs trying to figure out their themes and hashtags. They don’t miss out on a hashtag. Because I provide all the themes and hashtags every day. If your pictures are good, your public persona is positive, and you’re using theme tags, you’ll probably get featured.
And one last thing…Happy April Fool’s Day 😜
Using automated programs or apps to do your following/unfollowing, likes and comments is against Instagram’s Terms of Service and will hopefully get your account shut down. It’s also specifically mentioned in the Community Guidelines.