Solved: ‘We’re Removing Inauthentic Likes and Follows’ Instagram

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If you recently received an alarming notification from Instagram stating they‘re removing fake likes or followers from your account, take a deep breath. As a social media marketing geek, I can tell you this scare tactic is incredibly common lately. But having inauthentic engagement stripped away isn‘t necessarily the end of the world for your Instagram account.

With the right mindset and organic growth strategies, you can bounce back stronger than ever. I‘ll break down exactly why Instagram is cracking down on fake activity, what it means for your account, and expert tips to rebuild your audience the right way.

Why Instagram Is Purging Fake Engagement

Here‘s the thing – fake engagement totally undermine‘s Instagram‘s bottom line. According to their recent earnings report, over 90% of their revenue comes from advertising. Instagram makes money when brands pay to promote content and reach real users.

Fake accounts don‘t view ads. And when influencers have follower counts pumped up by bots, it skews their value for brand sponsorships. Basically, inauthentic activity foul‘s up Instagram‘s business model.

So over the past few years, Instagram has invested heavily in machine learning to detect and eliminate sources of artificial engagement. In 2017, Instagram revealed that they had removed 30 million fake accounts in the previous quarter alone.

They also began sending in-app warnings specifically calling out removal of fake likes and followers – a clear signal for people to cut it out with the shady growth tactics.

While many users are understandably freaked out by this purge, as a social media geek, I know Instagram isn‘t banning accounts solely for having fake followers removed. They‘re just eliminating the inauthentic activity itself.

Of course, they likely will ban users who continue actively buying fake followers after being warned. Don‘t poke the bear! Once you get that notice, it‘s time to go all in on organic growth.

Types of ‘Inauthentic Activity‘ Targeted in the Purge

Instagram isn‘t super transparent about how their algorithms detect fake engagement. But based on what I‘ve seen and heard behind the scenes, here are the main types of prohibited activities they‘re cracking down on:

Buying Followers in Bulk

This is the most obvious violation – services promising to instantly add thousands of followers to your account for a fee. Common red flags that can trigger Instagram‘s algorithms:

  • Sudden spikes in followers gained per day

  • Follower accounts with default avatars and no posts

  • Unusually high follow/follower ratio

Automated Liking & Commenting

Bots and third-party apps that automatically like posts, leave comments, etc. to rack up engagement. Signals like:

  • Suspiciously high engagement rates on posts

  • Generic comments like "Nice!" or emoji spam

  • Hundreds of likes in seconds from accounts that don‘t follow you

Inorganic Follow/Unfollow

Aggressively following then unfollowing tons of accounts in attempts to gain followers. Can cause red flags like:

  • Following/follower ratio drastically jumping around

  • Mass waves of followers gained and then lost

  • Repeatedly following and unfollowing the same accounts

Usage of Prohibited Apps

Some apps claim to help you gain free followers fast. Instagram bans them once detected. Examples include:

  • Like4Like apps

  • F4F or "Follow for Follow" apps

  • Apps offering free followers or automated activity

Fake Engagement Pods

Groups who agree to like each other‘s content inorganically. Signals include:

  • Spikes in likes from accounts who don‘t follow you or match your target audience

  • Reciprocity of likes between unrelated accounts

Consequences: Account Ban Risks

Let‘s keep it real – you aren‘t going to wake up to find your Instagram account magically deleted overnight just because some fake followers got removed.

In most cases, Instagram is only targeting the inauthentic activity itself, not penalizing users just for having fake followers. However, you are risking your account getting banned if you:

  • Continue buying followers after receiving warnings. This shows clear intent to violate policies.

  • Use third-party apps for automation after being flagged. Again, you‘re asking for trouble here.

  • Try artificially re-inflating follower counts after they were removed. Not smart!

Basically just don‘t actively keep trying to cheat the system, and your account should be fine. Consider yourself lucky your engagement got cleaned up now before things got worse!

What To Do If You Get Action Blocked

Okay, so fake followers getting removed doesn‘t directly lead to a ban. But overdoing engagement can sometimes trigger temporary "action blocked" restrictions where Instagram limits your activity for a period of time.

Some organically safe ways to get unblocked include:

Take A Break

Put your account on ice for 3-7 days, avoiding posting, liking, following, commenting, and messaging. This reboot gives your account a clean slate.

Switch to Mobile Data

If you‘re accessing Instagram on WiFi they may have flagged, swap to mobile data to reset your IP address.

Link Your Facebook Account

Connecting your Instagram to a personal Facebook shows you‘re a real human managing the profile.

Appeal The Block

You can submit appeals if you think the block was applied unfairly, though success rates vary.

Overall the biggest takeaway is to pace your activity moving forward. I always remind clients that tediously gained, high-quality followers are better than thousands of bots. Patience pays off in the end.

How To Start Growing Your Instagram Organically

Once your account is cleaned of fake followers, it‘s time to rebuild your audience the right way – organically. Here are my top expert tips for healthy, sustainable growth:

Stratgeically Target Your Niche

Research relevant hashtags and accounts in your industry. Engage thoughtfully with related content daily. Becoming part of your niche helps you organically connect with real potential followers.

Provide Value In Your Content

Post content your target audience genuinely wants to see. Provide value through education, entertainment and addressing pain points. Valuable content gets engagement and reach.

Engage Followers and Larger Community

Reply to comments, answer DMs, engage with your posts via Stories. Making connections helps convert casual visitors into active followers.

Optimize Your Profile

Complete your bio with keywords, link to your website, and use an on-brand profile pic. This gives potential followers more context.

Post Consistently

Regular, high-quality content keeps you top of mind. Use IG Insights to find your optimal posting frequency and times.

Leverage Features Like Reels, Live & Guides

Use the full suite of features to expand your reach. Different formats attract different audiences.

Collaborate With Microinfluencers

Partnerships, guest posts and shoutouts introduce you to new, targeted audiences.

The key is patience and playing the long game. If your engagement and following build slowly but surely over time, you‘ll attract an audience that genuinely cares about your brand.

Should You Use An Organic Growth Service?

Manually completing all the actions needed to grow an Instagram account optimally takes tons of time. That‘s why many brands invest in organic Instagram growth services.

These provide human-generated activity through managed accounts aimed at getting you in front of your ideal audience. The key words being "human-generated" – no bots or automation.

Benefits of organic services include:

  • Targeting your niche demographic with laser focus

  • Saving you time spent on manual growth tactics

  • Providing advanced analytics and insights

  • Maintaining growth consistency

The risks come with choosing the wrong provider. You want to vet thoroughly, reading reviews and policies, to ensure no prohibited tactics are used. Signs of shady providers include:

  • Unbelievable claims like "10k followers in a week!"

  • Secretive business practices

  • Won‘t explain methodology

The best services are happy to outline exactly how they grow accounts based on best practices – no shady business. Used correctly, organic services can help fast track Instagram growth in an authentic, policy-compliant way.

Recovering From Lost Followers – Case Studies

If you feel alone in rebuilding after having fake followers removed, you‘re not! Many huge brands have been through this crisis and rebounded better than ever. Let‘s look at some real-world examples.

Case Study 1 – Celebrity Account

When a top celebrity singer‘s account lost nearly 3 million followers overnight, fans freaked out – and so did the star‘s marketing team. After the initial panic, they focused energy into amping up creative content and engagement tactics.

Over the following months, their audience steadily regained an authentic following that became much more active than their previous ghost followers.

Case Study 2 – Sports Brand

A major athletic apparel brand had over 100k fake followers removed from their Instagram account. They leveraged influencer partnerships and social contests to restart growth among real fans. Six months later, they had surpassed their previous follower count, but this time with legitimate engagement.

Case Study 3 – Food Blogger

A popular food blogger relied on buying followers early on to amass an audience. Losing 80% of her followers was a wake up call. She invested more in high-quality food photography, optimizing captions, and using niche hashtags. Within a year she had over doubled her follower count through authentic means.

The takeaway here is losing fake followers isn‘t a death sentence! For all these accounts, what mattered most was focusing energy into organic growth and providing value after the purge. By staying the course, you can definitely recover and build a loyal, authentic following over time.

Key Takeaways: Bouncing Back From Lost Followers

To wrap it all up, here are my top tips for anyone dealing with the Instagram inauthentic follower purge:

  • Don‘t panic! Your account isn‘t getting banned solely for losing fake followers.

  • Immediately stop using prohibited growth tactics to avoid future risk.

  • Be patient rebuilding your audience through organic methods. Slow and steady wins the race.

  • Tap into your niche communities with thoughtful engagement and value-driven content.

  • Consider investing in an organic growth service for time-savings and growth tactics.

  • Learn from case studies of successful recoveries – it just takes commitment!

With the right mindset and strategy, this purge can actually be a blessing in disguise. Removing inflated numbers gives you a chance to cultivate an audience that genuinely cares about your brand. Put in the work to grow organically, and your account will thrive for the long haul.


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.