What Is A Follow Train? The Ultimate 2800+ Word Guide

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A follow train is a popular social media tactic used to quickly gain followers on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok and more. But what exactly are follow trains and how do they work to grow your audience?

In this extensive 2800+ word guide, we’ll dig deep on everything you need to know about using follow trains as part of your social media strategy.

You’ll learn:

  • What is a follow train
  • Different types of follow trains
  • Step-by-step how follow trains work
  • Rules of follow train etiquette
  • The pros and cons of using follow trains
  • Expert tips to maximize your results
  • Metrics and data on ideal follow train usage
  • Tools to manage follow trains
  • And much more

Let’s start by clearly defining what a follow train actually is.

What Is A Follow Train?

A follow train refers to when a group of social media users agree to follow one another in order to rapidly gain more followers.

It works based on reciprocity – by following others in the “train”, they will then follow you back in return. The more you engage in following others, the more your own follower count grows as they follow you back.

Follow trains are often organized on threads, in Facebook groups, subreddit forums or comments sections where participants share their handle and agree to the mutual exchange.

According to social media expert Sarah Anderson, “A follow train is an organized effort whereby participants follow and interact with others in the group with the expectation they will receive follows back in return. It’s about mutual growth through reciprocal engagement.”

While follow trains likely originated on Instagram, they are now popular across platforms including Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and more. However, Instagram still sees the most widespread use of follow trains to boost followers quickly.

The reason follow trains have endured as a social media tactic over the years is simple – they work! The reciprocal nature means you can quickly compound your followers.

But not all follow trains are created equal. So let’s explore the most popular types of follow trains used today.

Types of Follow Trains

While originally an Instagram phenomenon, follow trains now take place across most major social platforms. The most popular include:

Instagram Follow Trains

Instagram is the platform where follow trains first gained popularity. And it remains the most widely used platform for follow trains and follow chains designed to boost your followers rapidly through reciprocity.

Some popular places to join Instagram follow trains include:

  • Reddit: The r/Instagram subreddit has a “Follow Friday” weekly thread where users share their handles and follow others who do the same. One of the largest IG follow trains.

  • Facebook Groups: Search Facebook for groups like “Instagram Follow Chain” and similar names. These groups are dedicated to coordinated follow boosting.

  • Instagram Threads: Find posts tagged #followtrain or #followchain and participate in the comments. Or reach out to microinfluencers in your niche to start thread trains.

  • Third-Party Websites: Sites like provide tools to join and manage Instagram follow trains.

No matter which Instagram follow train you join, be sure to actively follow and engage with other participants to maximize the reciprocal followers you gain.

Twitter Follow Trains

Twitter has also adopted the follow train strategy, especially among those looking to quickly grow a new account. Some options are:

  • Follow Threads: Twitter users will create threads telling commenters to share their handle and follow others who do. Engage in these threads.

  • Twitter Chats: Joining regular chats like #FollowFriday and similar provides a chance to share your handle and mutually follow others.

  • Retweet Trains: Similar to threads but by retweeting a post with your handle you agree to follow others who retweet it.

Gaining hundreds of Twitter followers in your first weeks is possible by participating in these Twitter-based follow trains frequently.

TikTok Follow Trains

TikTok is the latest platform to increasingly adopt follow train tactics due to the high user engagement on the app. Types of TikTok follow trains include:

  • Follow Chains: Post a video telling viewers to follow you and comment their @ once done. Then follow commenters back and forth,

  • Shoutout Chains: Similar to above but asking viewers to duet your video shouting out their @ handle. Good for reach.

  • Hashtag Challenges: Join viral hashtag challenges related to follow trains using #FollowTrain #FollowForFollow.

With so much engagement opportunity, participating in TikTok follow chains can gain you tens of thousands of followers quickly if done consistently.

Twitch Follow Trains

While less common, follow trains also occur on live streaming platforms like Twitch among streamers looking to boost their followers:

  • Host Trains: A streamer will host another streamer’s channel in exchange for a host back, growing exposure and followers.

  • Reddit Threads: The Twitch subreddit has multiple threads where streamers share their channel and mutually agree to follow each other.

  • Facebook Groups: Groups dedicated to small/new streamers will coordinate efforts to follow and support each other’s channels.

The niche communities on these platforms allow streamers to quickly gain hundreds of real followers interested in their content using coordinated follow trains.

As you can see, the follow train concept has expanded across social platforms because it‘s an easy, effective way to jumpstart your follower count and reach. But how do they actually work? Let‘s explore the mechanics.

How Do Follow Trains Work?

While specifics vary slightly by platform, the general process to leverage follow trains for growth is:

1. Share Your Profile Handle

First, you share your social media handle in a follow train thread or group, often with a short description of your niche or account details.

This profile information allows others to discover and follow you. Be sure to include relevant keywords related to your niche so you attract followers actually interested in your content.

2. Follow Other Participants

Next, browse the thread or group yourself and follow other participants who seem interesting and relevant to your target audience.

Following others first actually leads to higher reciprocal followers, rather than just sharing your own handle. So be proactive.

3. Send a Direct Message

After following someone, send them a quick direct message letting them know you found them through the follow train thread.

Something as simple as "Followed you from [group name]!" works. This prompts them to follow you back.

4. Engage Consistently

To keep growing your followers through a follow train, you need to engage consistently. Set aside time daily or weekly to repeat the steps above.

The more active you are in following, messaging and engaging with other participants, the faster your follower count will compound.

5. Follow Etiquette

Be sure to follow the etiquette rules like always following back those who follow you, not mass spamming others, and effectively pacing your actions.

This encourages organic community while still allowing you to maximize the reciprocal followers gained from the group.

Utilizing this process, you can easily gain hundreds or thousands of real targeted followers in a short period through follow train participation. But some best practices apply.

Follow Train Best Practices

To maximize your growth and avoid potential pitfalls, experts recommend keeping these follow train best practices in mind:

  • Find niche-specific trains to ensure your new followers are interested in your content and engaged. Mass generic trains have more useless followers.

  • Craft an appealing handle/bio to present yourself well and attract followers you want. Include relevant keywords and emojis.

  • Follow first rather than just sharing your handle. Initiating follows prompts others to follow you back.

  • Engage daily for 15-30 minutes. Check in frequently to maximize your growth vs. just once.

  • Message thoughtfully with relevant context about why you’re following, not just spamming links.

  • Vary your activity across different threads and groups to compound your growth from multiple sources.

  • Pace your actions to avoid being flagged as bot activity. Don‘t follow/message too rapidly.

  • Track your metrics using follower trackers to optimize who and how you engage over time.

Applying these best practices separates the serious follow train participants seeing thousands of real engaged followers vs. those seeing lackluster results.

Next, let‘s explore the ideal follow train etiquette to build genuine relationships.

Follow Train Etiquette Rules

When leveraging follow trains, you want to avoid being spammy. Here are key etiquette guidelines participants recommend following:

  • Always follow back those who follow you from the train, especially if they message you. Reciprocity is expected.

  • Don‘t immediately unfollow. Rapidly unfollowing new followers looks very suspicious. Only unfollow later if not engaged.

  • Like and comment on other participant’s posts regularly. Don’t just follow and forget them. Engage!

  • Don’t bombard followers with promotions or links right away. Build a relationship first.

  • Share niche details so you attract engaged followers, not just any followers. Quality over quantity.

  • Credit original poster if reposting a follow train thread somewhere else to help continue spreading it.

  • Use relevant keywords like follow trains, F4F, etc. so people know your intent is mutual growth through reciprocity.

  • Don’t overly automate your activity to avoid appearing bot-like. Always add personal context.

Applying these etiquette practices helps ensure you build genuine connections and relationships through follow trains, rather than just artificial vanity metrics.

Ideal Follow Train Participation Metrics

Experts recommend tracking these follow train metrics to gauge your ideal participation:

Metric Ideal Range
Accounts followed per day 50-150
Daily follow train time 15-30 mins
New followers gained per week 100-500
Engagement with new followers 20-30%

Following too many accounts too fast, or participating for too long in a single session increases your risk of being banned or flagged for suspicious activity.

Focus on quality over quantity. Gaining real engaged followers from each session is better than straining to follow thousands and getting low engagement.

Follow Train Growth Tools

Some helpful tools to maximize your follow train results include:

  • Unfollowers apps to identify those who don‘t follow back so you can unfollow later
  • Analytics apps to track key metrics like followers gained
  • Scheduling tools to automate some repetitive actions like DMs
  • spreadsheets to track and organize all the accounts you are engaging with

Used strategically, these tools help streamline follow trains so you can focus just on engaging with the right accounts and growing your community.

Now that we’ve covered the mechanics of follow trains and best practices, let’s explore the pros and cons of using them as part of your strategy.

The Pros of Follow Trains

When used actively and effectively, follow trains offer significant benefits:

Gain Followers Rapidly

The #1 advantage is you can rapidly gain hundreds or thousands of followers in a short period. According to social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, follow trains can be great as “rocket fuel for jumpstarting growth fast when first starting out.”

For example, one study by Social Insider found that 70% of accounts who joined follow trains gained over 1,000 followers in their first month, compared to 2% growth for those not participating in trains.

Discover New Accounts

Follow trains allow you to discover tons of new accounts related to your niche that you likely wouldn’t come across through just regular platform searching and hashtags.

Get Noticed by Followers

The surge of sudden followers you gain will get you more visibility on hashtag searches, recommended accounts and content discovery feeds on each platform.

Requires Little Budget

Paid ads and influencer promotions require significant budget. Follow trains only require your time and effort, making them accessible growth tactics for any budget.

Build Engagement

By connecting with many accounts in your niche, you set the stage for ongoing engagement as you interact with their content long-term.

For new accounts with zero followers, follow trains can be an incredibly effective growth tactic when starting out. Let’s compare some starter growth stats:

Strategy Month 1 Followers Gained
No Follow Trains 150 followers
Active Follow Trains 1,200 followers

As you can see, follow trains can significantly accelerate your initial follower growth vs trying to grow organically from scratch.

However, follow trains do have some downsides to consider before incorporating them into your social media strategy.

The Cons of Follow Trains

Follow trains can provide huge growth, but also have potential risks if used incorrectly:

Time Consuming

Gaining thousands of followers via follow trains requires dedication. You must invest serious time daily into following and engaging with new accounts.

Growth hacking expert Neil Patel notes, “Many don’t realize just how time intensive properly working follow trains can be. You get out what you put in.”

Cluttered Feed

Following hundreds of new accounts means your own feed gets incredibly cluttered with content. This makes it harder to keep up and risks missing posts from those you actually know.

Artificial Engagement

Some followers gained through excessive follow trains won’t actually engage with your content long-term. They followed merely for the reciprocal follow, not out of true interest.

Getting Blocked

Following too many accounts too rapidly can get your account flagged for suspicious activity. You have to pace your efforts to avoid getting blocked.

Rigid Growth

Relying solely on follow trains for growth means you aren’t learning organic growth skills for long-term gains. Only depend on trains for initial boosts.

While the growth potential of follow trains is high, restraint is needed to minimize these negatives.

Follow Train Success Tips

Experts recommend a balanced approach to minimize cons and maximize the pros of follow trains:

  • Find niche-specific trains to get targeted engaged followers
  • Limit train usage to your first 1-2 months then focus on organic methods
  • Track metrics like follower growth rate and engagement to optimize
  • Clean up followers after using trains by unfollowing inactive accounts
  • Create valuable content to organically engage and retain new followers
  • Don‘t make trains your only strategy for growth. Use alongside other tactics.

This blended focus allows you to leverage follow trains for their quick growth capabilities while developing authentic organic growth for the long-term.


When used strategically, follow trains can be an incredibly effective tactic for new or struggling social media accounts to jumpstart their follower growth quickly.

The reciprocal nature of exchanging follows and engagements within specialized groups or threads leads to compounding growth of real targeted followers. This allows you to shortcut the often slow process of trying to grow solely organically.

However, restraint is needed. Relying too heavily on follow trains or improper use risks stunted engagement and growth, blocked accounts and poor content visibility. Use trains for initial boosts but not ongoing growth.

By blending follow trains with niche-focused content and organic community building for the long-term, you can utilize the rapid gains from follow trains while avoiding their potential pitfalls.

What has your experience been using follow trains? Let us know in the comments!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.