Why having a lower following count is considered elite

In this ever-so-evolving Instagram world, there is this notion that having more followers is always better. To achieve this, many people practice questionable strategies, such as buying a bulk of new followers from sketchy online sources or partaking in the notorious follow-unfollow method.

The follow-unfollow method is when a user follows a chunk of new users accounts (hundreds at a time, usually) in hopes that a handful of those accounts will follow them back. After a few days, the user may choose to unfollow select or all accounts. As good as the follow-unfollow method may work at times, certain traces give away when a user practices this infamous growth strategy – usually a disproportionate follower/following ratios and a high following number.


What does following a large number of accounts signal to others who visit your profile? Some believe this is the tell all of how engaged your followers are and how much influence you offer. The truth is — even if popular celebrities and influencers unfollowed everyone, they would still have a high number of followers eagerly waiting for their next post.  

Let’s examine this from an influencer’s point of view: when a brand is examining an influencer’s ability to be a successful ambassador for their products, they are going to look at the influencer’s followers, followings, and their followers/following ratio. If an influencer has 10K followers but is following 7.5K users, this can signal to the brand that the influencer engages in the follow/unfollow method and maybe used a bot.

The brand can then take a step further and look into the influencer’s engagement rates, using accessible online tools. Brands may consider working with influencers that are following a lower number of accounts or have a more proportional followers/following ratio. In the end, Instagram limits users to only be able to follow 7,500 users. If a user is following 6,000+ accounts, it is a clear indicator that they participate in the infamous follow-unfollow method.


Why having a lower follower count is more elite

  1. Having a lower following count gives you authority

You never see established brands or big influencers following a large number of users. This is because they focus on being producers of content and only follow certain accounts that connect with their brands – like sister companies or company spokespeople.

Last month, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry decided to unfollow everyone — including the queen — and only follow certain organizations they support, in hope to direct their followers’ attention to them. More and more, we are seeing influencers and brands choosing to limit their following count to uphold a certain level of reputability.


2.  You can truly interact with those you follow

This is probably the reason to have a Finsta, in addition to the Rinsta or “real” Instagram. Once you follow a certain amount of people, your feed will never be the same, as you will likely be scrolling through content that is unrelated or uninteresting. You’re not likely to see that 1 post of 7500 people you’re following. Also, the more people you follow, the more likely you are to have less things in common with them — mostly if you are a brand.

For example – you are a seasonal ice cream shop based in a small town in New Jersey. One day as you are scrolling through your feed, you realize that you are following people based in Europe. You know that the likelihood of having those folks visit your town and business is very unlikely. Even if you engage with these users, they will likely never visit your ice cream shop in New Jersey and become paying customers. In these cases, it is best to unfollow them and focus on users that are more likely to convert.

3.  It is now easy to keep a low following ratio

Nothing is worse than hitting the max number of following count on Instagram and receiving that dreadful *error* message — “You can’t follow any more people” — mostly if you are trying to grow your account. Until recently, it was difficult to be constantly unfollowing accounts to avoid hitting that 7,500 cap.

Now, there are tools to help brands and influencers stay on top of unfollowing, as well as following. With Gold Nitro’s unfollow tool, you can automatically unfollow users, while gaining new ones. Gold Nitro’s smart technology gives you the option to only unfollow those who do not follow you back and will not unfollow users you have personally followed.


The truth is — everybody at some point has partaken in the follow-unfollow method and users will continue to do this because of one simple factor: it works. Additionally, most users do not have the time or energy to be constantly following/unfollowing, which usually leads to maintaining a high following number.

Luckily, Gold Nitro’s automation tool keeps on working constantly throughout the day. Not only does this tool follow and engage with new users, but it also unfollows, making sure your account has a healthy and low following and a high number of followers. Start a free 14-day trial of Gold Nitro today.