How I Went From 10.2K Instagram Followers to Less Than 7K in under 48 Hours


I’m totally the person you want to follow for biz advice now right? ;)

After Shannon from @boutiquesocialdc dropped some major Instagram engagement knowledge bombs in The Founders Club (my membership for personal stylists to up their biz game!), I knew I needed to take back my little corner of the internet.

My “neighborhood” on IG had gotten messy - lots of followers that were NOT engaging with me- to the tune of about 4k that I identified and started the process of blocking from following me.

I worked really hard to get to that 10.2 k followers -  I commented, engaged, liked, and even went as far as engaging in some shady IG strategies - following / unfollowing.

But the thing is - that “hard work” didn’t really get me the results I wanted.

When I applied for the Fohr Card authenticity badge (Fohr is a resource primarily used by bloggers or influencers and is used as proof that your following is genuine) - I didn’t get it.

It was a wake up call.

So the unengaged and robo followers had to go. And go.. and go.

How + Who I Unfollowed:

  1. Purchased the pro version of the Cleaner app - which would allow me to mass unfollow

  2. Manually selected account that appeared to be spam, fake or robot accounts. Typically these will have a blank profile photo or their account will be heavily sexualized, feature weapons, cars, or an off amount of younger children.

  3. Blocked over 4K accounts

This method is NOT foolproof - I def accidentally blocked a few friends AND a potential client.

The aftermath:

  1. Instagram is a LOT more fun - I actually know who I follow now and mostly who is following me. I feel good that they are real people.

  2. My engagement is through the roof - i get SO many comments now it’s insane!

  3. I do actively look at my recent followers and block those that look like spam or that they won’t ever engage with me.

Lessons learned:

  1. Be vulnerable. - I was scared TO DEATH to share this story - especially since a lot of people have made a BIG deal about how I got 10k followers. Yes it was a lot, yes I did the work to get there and I didn’t buy followers, but I did follow /unfollow which isn’t the way to build community. I was afraid people would judge me. But someone shared their own story of stopping the loop giveaways and being vocal about that practice as well. Me sharing, and being vulnerable, opened the floodgates for community and engagement.

  2. Don’t explain or justify your actions based on someone else’s feelings.  - After my initial mass blocking, I went through and started to unfollow fashion bloggers that weren’t my ideal client or in my community. I received a DM from one that said, “thanks for following me as long as you did - best wishes!” and my IMMEDIATE reaction was to apologize, say it’s not her, it’s me. But that would have been unnecessary. I essentially said, You’re welcome! And left it at that. I didn’t need to justify why I unfollowed her. For her to even message me about unfollowing means she is probably using some sort of app to track that meaning she may be more focused on the numbers over community.

  3. Act with integrity + intention.  - In the midst of my mass blocking, I did unintentionally block someone who had signed up for my master class for personal stylist. It was kind of a not so nice email and I was taken aback and truthfully, heartbroken, literally, that I could have blocked someone who wanted to learn from me. I sat on my email back, took me over an hour to write it, and in this instance, DID explain my actions and asked the person to send me more info so I could look into their account. They did - and it turns out, they never even thought about my mass clean out. Today, they are a member of my  Founders Club and I LOVE them.

The old Sydney would have kept those numbers, wouldn’t have wanted to “start over,” would have been embarrassed to say all this. But the new Sydney knows that in order to create what I want to create - I have to do radical things I never would have done before.

And you know what? THIS feels GREAT. I don’t even miss the swipe up link. It’s overrated anyway. ;) (kinda kidding- it’s actually really nice hahaha).

Sydney Lester is a personal stylist and business coach helping personal stylists go from hobby to full time. Connect with Sydney below for more style + biz tips:

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