Instagram’s follow and unfollow limits have always been a huge debate in the marketing community. The platform’s overly aggressive efforts to ensure organic engagement often leads to temporary blocks. In fact, prior to June 2019, temporary blocks were quite normal for accounts using overly aggressive tactics or bots. However, Instagram algorithm updates and policing policies have made it increasingly challenging to avoid a block even if you are using organic strategies that are 100% manual.
In the past few months, Instagram has been blocking accounts with increased urgency and in many cases not providing a valid reason as to why the block occurred. In some instances, a ‘block’ or ‘compromised account’ prompt will appear in the app almost immediately after a single follow or as little as 10 unfollows. This increased sensitivity has become more prevalent as many Instagram users are sharing their concerns about Instagram’s arbitrary blocking practices. In fact, even the Twitterverse was getting quite cranky.
You can read some chatter about it here
Dear @Instagram I am blocked on insta for some reason. It''s been 4/5 days now. And I see that I am not the only one. So fix your problems (and your help service)
— Bettie (@Hippieflower13) June 7, 2019
Ok this is getting ridiculous. This is the 4/5th time @instagram has blocked my account from just liking posts! Their service is a joke, telling them does nothing, contacting them in any way does nothing. I am sick of having this is for no reason and no solution pic.twitter.com/pSC6NSObHx
— Nat #StayAtHome🌈#BlackLivesMatter (@GallifreyanWolf) June 6, 2019
Tried to like a picture but Instagram blocked me?!? pic.twitter.com/ZmAWQdtG1y
— Seoirsín Ní 🐸 (@VatFrom) June 4, 2019
@instagram we have been blocked on Instagram for over 3 days from following. We have worked super hard to make great content and have never purchased followers. Please help
— lasvegastriplets (@vegastriplets) June 7, 2019
@instagram blocked me from reposting other photos in my story and I’m confused about it. Like no warning? For why folks?
— Daddy Dionysis (@Cuspofarrows) June 7, 2019
— Shubham Saini (@Shubham97054512) June 7, 2019
That being said we would not ask you to rely on Twitter for professional Instagram advice. After all, who are those people anyway? However, it did give us some confirmation and a big reason to begin our research process.
So we pulled up our sleeves and began digging deeper.
What we learned About Instagram’s Follow and Unfollow Limits
Instagram is no stranger to imposing user action limits. The platform’s first major attempt began with limiting account actions like following and unfollowing. Initially, early adopters suggested following and unfollowing action caps were limited to 140 per hour. A more notable revelation was later provided by Crowdfire’s CEO who shared that Instagram requested the platform reduce the number of follow/unfollow requests. (See excerpt below)
✌🏻️ We launched our Instagram integration over 3 years ago and we never charged for follow/unfollow.😇However, we were recently contacted by Instagram and were told that Crowdfire was making a lot(millions) of follow/unfollow requests each day. 😟They wanted us to reduce the number of follows/unfollows we make and being a good member of the Instagram ecosystem we decided to adhere to this request.🤗 We had initially decided to reduce the limits for everyone. However, we have a lot of users whose businesses depend on using our product effectively and we don’t want such users to suffer. 😌So, we’ve decided to keep the no limits option(Instagram limits of 60/hour still apply) for such users whose work depends on using Crowdfire every day. – Reference
Instagram Follow and Unfollow Limits in 2018
In 2018, The standard follow / unfollow consensus was that Instagram did not allow follows of more than 60 – 80 per hour. As you can see this was largely guided by tastemakers e.g. SaaS automation platforms. However, in November 2018 Instagram announced they would be spearheading an effort to reduce inauthentic engagement on Instagram . Following the announcement, rumors of the Instagram purge emerged. These rumors were then given credence by the massive number of reports from popular accounts who also noticed changes in their post reach and engagement levels.
Instagram Follow and Unfollow Limits in 2019
In Jan 2019 we noticed that Instagram limits while still varying across some accounts shifted from hourly limitations to daily actions. Wherein most accounts were able to complete 350 – 500 follow, unfollow, and/or like actions per day. If an account was much larger (upwards of 100,000 followers) and more reputable in many cases those limitations would be much higher.
In June 2019. We’ve learned that Instagram is amidst another important follow unfollow limit change. While not finalized it appears the running consensus across our internet pool of managers state actions are limited to 6000 actions per month. This equates to about 200 actions per day. It is currently unclear as to whether likes are included in those daily actions.
What Happens If You Follow Or Unfollow Too Quickly On Instagram
In general, if you are too aggressive meaning you followed or unfollowed accounts too quickly on Instagram, you may receive a block prompt which will affect your organic Instagram growth. In most cases, prompts will stop you from following or unfollowing for a day or two. In some cases, your account may be blocked for a much longer period. Currently, block periods are rather arbitrary. However, keep in mind if you are following the rules and receive a block prompt you should let Instagram know that you or your team members are very active on the platform. This may help remove or resolve the block more quickly.
Also, keep in mind that the history of your account may also impact its sensitivity level. For example, accounts that have previously purchased followers may be more sensitive than accounts that have never purchased fake followers. Other examples of black or gray hat strategies include:
- Purchasing Followers
- Purchasing Likes
- Joining Engagement Pods
- Using Social Media Panels
- Using Bot Automation
We don’t recommend using any of the abovementioned tactics as they do not add value to your audience’s responsiveness. More importantly, based on our experience, account holders who participate in these types of strategies will inevitably struggle to grow their accounts.
What To Do If Your Instagram Account Gets Blocked
If you encounter an account block in the near future do the following.
- Pause any aggressive activity
- Change your password
- Be sure to remove any applications authorized in your authorized app settings
- Cool down on following and unfollowing (steer clear from this tactic for a couple of days until the block is removed)
- Continue to log in to your Instagram account and spend a few minutes a day in the feed (note: Instagram does monitor how much time you spend in the native app) If you’re using Hootsuite or Later that’s not enough, you’ll have to actually log in to Instagram. Fortunately, we do this daily for Amp clients so nothing to worry about there.
Once the block is removed which should take a couple of hours or several days depending on the severity of the block. Resume using your account at a reduced speed. For the next month, you should expect a decrease in growth as Instagram may also be amidst another platform purge which is not out of character as we noticed this did occur during Instagram’s last phase of sensitivity.
That’s it friends. We hope you find it useful! Be sure to stay connected for further updates.