Maintaining a list of your social media followers can be a surprisingly useful practice. With such a list on hand, you can extract a variety of benefits, which I’ll talk about momentarily. Yet, not all social networks allow you to see a full list of your followers. Twitter does, but Facebook makes it very difficult, for example. So where does Instagram fall? Can you get a full list of your followers, and if so, how can you use them?
The Numerous Benefits of a Follower List
If you can get yourself a full list of your Instagram followers, what can you do with it? What good is a list of IG usernames for you? Well, here are some ideas.
You can compare that list to other lists. For example, if you have a list of your followers on Facebook or Twitter, you can compare the two and see which people follow you on more than one profile versus which people only follow you on one.
How is this useful? Well, if you know people follow you on Instagram, you can look up to see if they’re on Twitter, and market to them directly to get them to follow you on Twitter. Conversely, if you know someone follows you on Twitter but doesn’t follow you on IG, you can do the same marketing in reverse.
You can upload that list to a social monitoring platform. There are a bunch of different platforms out there that give you various levels of social media monitoring and management. Most of them will have some form of API access to your profile, but if you either don’t trust that access or you’re using an app that doesn’t have such access built in, uploading your own list can help you keep track of the people who follow you.
In some cases, these tools also give you options for pruning out your followers. For example, maybe you upload a list of people who follow you and use that to follow people back, or upload a list of the people you follow and remove any who don’t follow you. Some of this might be considered a black hat technique, especially if you use it frequently, but hey; I’m just telling you what you can do, not what you should do.
You can use that list for targeted advertising on other platforms. There are a lot of different advertising platforms that allow you to run ads targeting specific lists of users. If you have a list and upload it, you can then run ads to that specific audience.
Now, this isn’t all that useful if all you have is a list of Instagram usernames. With nothing but a list of usernames, all you can advertise is on that platform, and that means going through the default IG/Facebook ads program. You don’t need to import a list in this case, because the data is already there for you to use simply by targeting the “people who follow you” audience. However, you can prune down the list to, say, the people who routinely comment on your posts, and advertise to those people instead, as a smaller and more engaged audience.
Alternatively, you can upload that list to a contact management platform that can scan the web looking for more data about those users. These platforms can take an Instagram username and search for things like that same username on other social networks, the real name attached to that name, and public information like email addresses, and combine it all into one database. From there, you can reach out to those people in a variety of different ways, including email if you’re not opposed to unsolicited emails.
You can filter that list for bad accounts. There are a bunch of tools out there that let you scan a list of followers to see if they’re bots. Some of these tools request access to your account, and others allow you to upload your own list. While the API access is the easiest, having a list you can prune is not a bad idea.
Considerations for Exporting a List of Followers
Before I get into specific methods you can use to find a full list of your followers, one thing I should bring up is the different ways you can view and use the data you get.
Some of the tools I’ll show you will only show you a list of your followers in their own platform. You can’t export the data and use it in other ways, you can only use it through the platform. This is usually fine; the tool you’re using to see the list will also provide the main functions you usually want anyways. On the other hand, if you want to just have an exported list for use in the future, you’ll need one of the tools that gives you an exported list of data.
So there’s your first concern: does the tool you’re using give you an option for exporting the data in some form like an Excel file or a CSV? You’ll want to make sure it does, if you need the data in another platform.
Alternatively, does the tool display all of your followers in an easy to scrape format? If so, you can scrape it yourself. You might use a tool to do the scraping for you, or you might just be able to select all and copy-and-paste it into a CSV of your own. You may need to process or sanitize the data in some way, but that’s not to terribly difficult if you know your way around a spreadsheet application or some simple data filtering code.
Another consideration to keep in mind is how much data you’re getting. Some of these tools just give you a list of usernames, while others might give you username, display name, profile information, website link, and even profile photo, though Instagram makes it notoriously difficult to actually scrape image content, since that’s the core of their business.
One final concern is whether or not the tool uses manual scraping or API access. Instagram keeps changing their API to limit what kind of exploitative actions users can take. The most relevant of these is the change in April of 2018 that makes it impossible for most follow/unfollow apps to function by removing the API access they used. Some have adapted, but others have not, so always make sure to test any app you’re considering using before you pay for a plan. You don’t want to sign up for a package that doesn’t work, after all.
How to View and Export a List of Your Instagram Followers
Alright, now let’s get into the real reason you’ve all come here; the actual tools and techniques you can use to get a hold of the data you want.
One thing to note, by the way, is that any option that pulls a public list will only pull a list of followers you can see. If an account has blocked you, it won’t show up in lists for you to view.
Option 1: The Manual Option. This first option is easy: just go to your profile on Instagram – the URL www.instagram.com/yourusername – and click on the “# followers” label up a the top. This will pop up a lightbox that will show you several pieces of information.
- The username of each person who follows you.
- The display name of each person who follows you.
- The profile photo of each person who follows you.
- Whether or not you follow the person in return.
- A list of people Instagram recommends you follow.
Now, there’s no easy way to export this data. It’s not a separate page of its own, it’s just a lightbox, so it’s difficult to interact with. You can use a browser-based scraper program to scrape the data, but you may need to manually babysit the program.
If you have a lot of followers – that is, more than like, 20 – the box will only show a few at first. You need to scroll down to get it to load more followers. This means if you have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of followers, you will be scrolling for a long time to view all of this data.
On the plus side, as far as I know, this WILL show you every follower you have, even if you have millions of them, so long as you don’t crash your browser trying to trigger the “load more” script a few hundred thousand times. It’s just unfortunate in that it will take a long time to load all of that data. Some scrapers might allow you to automate this process, in which case you can just set it and walk away until it’s done, but that might also be tricky when you get into the millions of followers.
Option 2: Helper Tools. Helper Tools is a browser extension for Google Chrome. It gives you a handful of tools you might find useful for Instagram, without needing to use your authentication info or link to your account in any way.
Some people consider this a black hat tool, and I’m certain it’s at least gray hat because of some of its features. The follow/unfollow tools, the automatic post like features, and the mass block features can all be considered against the Instagram terms of service.
With this tool, you can export data to a CSV, with some limitations which I’ll cover momentarily. You can also pull this data about any public profile that shows a follower list. One of the most interesting features, as well, is the ability to compare two accounts and see the list of people who follow both of them.
There are two major restrictions for this plugin. The first is that it only works on accounts up to 10,000 followers for free. Once you hit that limit, you will be prompted to buy a premium subscription, which costs 10 Euros, give or take. You’re also required to use Google Pay or Stripe to pay for it, which can be tricky sometimes. It also only works in certain countries, the list of which can be seen on their website.
The other major restriction is one imposed by Chrome. Chrome limits the amount of memory an extension can use, which limits how much this tool is able to scrape from the page. The developers have calculated a rough idea of how much it can scrape, though the exact number depends on your system.
- Only about 100,000 users if you’re scraping all information, including followed count, bio, whether or not the account is a business account, and so on.
- Up to about 300,000 users if you’re only scraping basic information, which is user ID, username, full name, user profile, followed by, requested by, user followers, user followed, profile pic, and whether or not they’re verified.
Additionally, this is for exporting as a CSV. Exporting as an XLSX file requires more memory and will have lower limitations.
Option 3: Professional Tools. There are a handful of professional management platforms that work with Instagram. Iconosquare and Later are two that I often recommend in posts here. They have some follower viewing and management tools, but they also cost money to use, so they aren’t ideal for everyone. Feel free to give them a look, though.
Option 4: Very Black Hat Tools. There are a bunch of extremely black hat tools out there, like WizBoost, FollowingLike, and ProFollower. Personally, I don’t trust them with access to my account, so I’m not going to link them here. If you want, they’re linked all over Quora and they’re easy enough to find on their own. Just be aware that depending on what you use them for, Instagram might decide to suspend your account because of them. They’re risky tools to use.
Option 5: Your Recommendation. What tools have you used to view all of your followers? I’d like to know what you’ve tried out and how safe it has worked out to be, so just let me know in the comments.