How can I easily tell if someone's following me on Instagram?

We look at a quick and easy technique to help you find out whether an Instagram account is following you, or not.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor
Instagram smartphone icon on a blue and black background
NurPhoto / Getty

A friend's Instagram account is starting to take off. She's been focusing on improving her frequency and regularity of posting, the quality of her images, and staying on message. As a result, she's seeing a steady growth in followers, week after week.

I've been acting as an informal coach, cheering her on and encouraging her to keep it up. It's nice when a friend's hard work begins to pay off.

Recently, she came to me with the question that opens this article: How can I easily tell if someone's following me on Instagram?

As it turns out, it's easy if you're not following them but not as easy if you already are. Here's a chart that explains it all.

Image: David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Let's break that down by looking at some of the Instagram accounts I follow. I follow ZDNet's, Jason Perlow. As you can see, there's a little head with a checkbox next to his name:

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

I've been fascinated by the images returning from the Webb telescope, so I also follow NASA's feed. There's also a little head with a checkbox next to NASA's name.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

The indicators are identical, but while Jason also follows me, NASA doesn't. From the indicators, it's impossible to tell whether either Jason or NASA is following me.

Fortunately, there's an easy fix. Just unfollow the account in question. To do so, click on that little head icon and click Unfollow. Don't worry. You can refollow in just a few minutes. Nobody's feelings will be hurt.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

Now, you can see the Follow button. If you can see the Follow button, it means that the account you're looking at is not following you.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

Just tap Follow to resume following. Let's take a look at Jason's account. I'll unfollow him for a second, too.

David Gewirtz/Screenshot

As you can see, because Jason is following me, the blue button says Follow Back, and of course, I clicked it, and I'm back to following him.

If you don't want to unfollow someone and you're using Instagram on your phone instead of your desktop, you can also search to see if someone is a follower. Go to your profile and tap on the number of followers you have.


Then type in the name of the person you're curious about. Here, it shows Jason Perlow is following me, but when I typed in "nasa" the search results indicated "No users found."


And there you go, a quick and easy way to tell if someone's following you. Let's recap:

  1. If you're already following someone, you can't tell if they're following you back.
  2. If you're not following someone, a blue button next to the message button and their name will show, with either Follow (if they're not following you) or Follow Back (if they are following you).
  3. So the easiest way to tell if a given account is one of your followers is to quickly unfollow someone, refresh the page, look for the blue button, and then refollow.
  4. If you're using the Instagram app on your phone (this doesn't work on the browser-based desktop web version), you can click on your list of followers and then search for the person you're curious about.

Be sure to follow ZDNet, Jason, and me, if you're so inclined. We all do our best to keep our feeds interesting. I post behind-the-scenes pictures of the projects I'm working on, so if you ever wonder what's going on in the workshop and Fab Lab, this is the way to keep up to date.

Are you an active Instagram user? My favorite accounts to follow are folks with puppy pictures. I love me those fuzzy little wonders, and a quick glance at my Insta always cheers me up. Do you have questions about Instagram? Post them here or on any of my socials, and I'll try to answer them in a future article. And post your furr-baby pictures. You can't ever have too many puppy or kitten pictures.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

Editorial standards