If all the IG followers you unfollow – after they follow you – unfollow you, how may followers would you have?

Because my account is private, I have to receive requests on Instagram to follow me. In the past, I causally offered a follow back without question. Later, I started scrutinizing the requests more diligently. I’d often feign a memory loss to be reminded where I met this person or how I might know them (especially when those I follow and follow me follow them). Sometimes I’d receive a reply back stating that they don’t know me but they’re interested in me and maybe I’m interested in them…blah blah blah – you get the drift. I’ve even gone so far as to make mention that oftentimes I notice that those that request to follow me only do so for the respective follow only to unfollow me soon there after.

I don’t mind the behavior much. I just get fascinated by it. So much so that even after I’m unfollowed, I message them again asking what happened and why they do this. I’m not so much judging, I’m more fascinated by the process. (Well, I guess I am a little, but I think I’m being judgy slightly differently.)

What fascinates me is that I always figured it’s some automated “bot” of sorts that goes around following and then, once an IG profile returns the follow, the robot automatically unfollows those same profiles. I really figured it was that. But I couldn’t find any app in my research that offers such automating abilities. I figured: if it’s automated, then no-harm-no-foul as it’s just a computer program that’s doing it. The reality, as I see it, is far more psychologically troubling.

We all know Instagram is all about the followers. In fact, that’s how some young Instagram users are viewing “coolness“. Now I’m below a one (1) on the cool meter. 309/352 = 0.93465909: thoroughly uncool. (Oh, my nostalgia days for being voted one of the more popular kids senior year of high school; even then though I was paranoid enough to believe the vote was rigged and the prize not truly won.) I usually unfollow those that no longer follow me. But I’m especially intrigued by those that follow request me ONLY to unfollow me after – specifically with the tactic of attaining coolness. (Haven’t we learned anything from middle school politics people? Coolness isn’t defined by online status? It’s defined by either rich parents and the awesome exclusive house parties, or by the level of household dysfunction that perpetuates if not creates apathy, lacking empathy, and total disregard for others (which somehow is regarded as ‘cool’ in some circles during my twisted memories of the 1980‘s). At least that’s how I recall things back in the day.

But this is the late 2010’s and I’m amazed that coolness now necessitates defined calculations – as if scientific – yet can be manipulated by such aggressive means as ‘unfollowing those that follow you after your requested to follow them’. That’s (almost) like trying to get with a semi-cool kid in some high-school clique only to then betray them when you’re deeper inside the inner-circle and feel secure about some ‘gained‘ coolness status. I can’t even imagine or comprehend how I would’ve negotiated – or likely not negotiated – these types of trying times.

Back to my fascination of when adults behave this way. There’s a colleague of mine that I realized is doing that pumps up their followers by following others only to unfollow them. I’m still following them on IG, but I suspect they did the same thing to me. I innocently inquired them a day or two ago if there was some program they’re using. I told them about the follow-for-follow only to unfollow thing and asked what that’s about. (I really want to understand it on a deeper level – maybe there isn’t one though.)

My colleague’s response was: “Ur like a social police.”

All I was trying to figure out is if the process is automatic or manual. But I guess when someone views me as police maybe they are doing so because they view what they are doing is a crime; Social-Police?

Social Media Police
Social Media Police Internet Security

(Is that like the Fashion-Police? I sport a drab less stylish homeless chic look fairly regularly.) Anyway…

I’m fascinated by the manual process of follow-unfollow. Especially when I’m seeing IG accounts dumping by a thousand following in one day. On December 28th this account unfollowed more than one thousand accounts. If there is no automated way to do this process, that means that someone – most likely human – is sitting throughout the day clicking unfollow so many many times.

Instagram account variations of the same company

For example, if every account takes two seconds to unfollow that means that whoever is sitting there is clicking for 33.33 minutes straight. Clearly this particular company has many variations of the same thing pulling the same tactic – but at the end of the day it’s really an anonymous company in a sense. That lends itself to a monotony on the level of drilling holes in sheet metal (just less dangerous). And it’s probably an intern.

Week's Instagram Following and Followers
Week’s Instagram Following and Followers

But, back to my colleague, who is just one person. So I tracked the following and followers numbers for a couple of months just to see what happens.

Comparing Followers to Following on IG account
Comparing Followers to Following on IG account

Basically, in my view, the two graphs should never really be related or corresponding to one another in any way. But, I would say that the followers (top) has the up-and-down saw-tooth graph style; general the same level of following others (1200-1450) but the following (bottom) will have more of an exponential rise, or some saw-tooth appearance, but on an angle – rather than across the horizontal. Granted, I’m the crazy person that spent time putting all this research together, but my colleague is the crazy person that spent time every day following-following and unfollowing-unfollowing clicking-clicking-clicking too often for me to think about. And THAT is what’s interesting to me!

It’s the deliberateness of it that bewilders me.

And it’s the snarky ‘social-police’ comment rather than talk to me about their reasoning and method. Maybe it’s too embarrassing to admit that one never outgrows middle school politics even with adulthood and technological innovations.

I looked at many analytic tools reviews. I was looking for one that would show me the followers graph (of course they all provide that) AND the following graph (but I guess that’s not really deemed important). So to that end, I assume the Instagram API is open enough that I assume such information is garnered. I just wish there might be someone interested enough to generate some sort of comparison graph. Clearly this would have to be with the permission of the Instagram account – to some extent. So maybe the way to present it is with some sort of account authenticity appraisal.

If the two charts are related (horizontal saw-tooth following in respect to a smooth incremental, exponential, or diagonal saw-toothed rise) then there is something suspect about its status. The amount of followers and following should be barely related – if not circumstantially lacking any discernible patterning. Not to mention that – as I understand things – accounts can buy followers (and some even claim they are “real” followers). Maybe so. But at the end of the day, shouldn’t coolness be measured NOT by dividing followers by following, but by how many views/likes the account receives on average in comparison to the amount of followers the account has.

If all the IG followers you unfollow - after they follow you - unfollow you, how many followers would you have?
If all the IG followers you unfollow – after they follow you – unfollow you, how many followers would you have?

For example: I have 309 followers on my personal private IG account. I posted a Thanksgiving post. I received 49 likes. That’s about 15.86%. Another post early June (just a throw-back-Thursday type) earned about 18.12%. By comparison, looking at my colleagues analytics, picking some bootylicious post of them showing off their derrière (300+ likes, including my own) amounts to 2.30%. So I ask you, by that metric, who’s cooler?

Ultimately, if Zen-Hard only has 20 followers but 14 like a post, well that’s 70%, so take on that fellow cool-not-so-cool Instagramers and Zen Hard!

Now! Who cares?! Right?! I agree. But I ask you: how did you feel about those people that just befriended you to befriend your friends only to unfriend you after (without notice nor reason)? Can we at least view such people (and accounts) in that manner. Why are we offering respect to such a falsely manufactured status? Or is this just an evolution of what-was into what-is? Well, this is the blog’s first post and first image on Instagram. So to that end I offer a follow-back for anyone that cares to follow Zen-Hard. I’m shooting for a perfect 1.0000 ratio of following over followers and I’m aiming for double-digits percentages as far as likes.

Thank you for reading.

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