A great way to organically increase your Instagram followers is to run promotions specifically for followers. We recently organized a promotion for Porterhouse Clothing where followers were automatically entered in a gift card drawing, plus an extra entry for tagging friends in comments.

Of course, this meant pulling a list of followers, which Instagram doesn’t make straightforward.

There are myriad browser extensions out there that will crawl your profile for followers, for a fee. And they seem to be various levels of trustworthy. But most of them have subscription pricing models, which only makes sense for a marketing agency that might organize these kinds of things frequently.

It’s our data. Surely there’s a way we can access it without crawling and parsing HTML?

Turns out there is. Here’s how to get a list of all your Instagram followers for free with no limitations on the number of users.

Request Your Data

Recent changes in privacy and data laws mean that companies like Instagram have implemented mechanisms for delivering a trove of account data to you. This includes a list of followers. Here’s how to get it:

There will be a message about long wait times, but in our experience, the dump showed up in less than an hour.

Find Your Followers

You’ll receive a ZIP file via email. Download and unzip this file. Within it, you’ll find a directory called followers_and_following. Within that directory, you’ll see a file called followers.json. Open that up in something like Notepad or your favorite text editor.

Filter to Followers’ Usernames

To parse this file without running code or a script, we’ll use an online JSON formatter. JSON is the format our data is in. This one in particular works very well for this use case. Visit that website and copy and paste the entire contents of your followers.json file into the left-hand side.

Pro tip: You can copy and paste the entire contents of a file or an input field on the web by placing your cursor in the file or field and using the keyboard shortcut “CTRL+A” followed by “CTRL+C”. That’ll come in handy again in this tutorial

In the middle of the screen, click “Format JSON”. Things should look like this:

Now on the right-hand side, click on the filter tool:

Paste the following into the “Query” section of the filter popup:

relationships_followers[].string_list_data[*].value
Code language: CSS (css)

The preview should show a list of followers’ usernames formatted with some brackets. Scroll to the bottom of that popup and hit “Ok”.

The right-hand column should now reflect that list of followers’ usernames. Use the dropdown in the toolbar for this section to select “Text” format instead of “Code” or “Tree”. Copy the entire contents of that box.

Convert to a Spreadsheet

One more online tool and we’re done. Open this site, which has a JSON to CSV converter tool. “CSV” is a file format understood by spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel.

Select the “JSON to CSV” option at the top, skip the first two inputs, and paste the contents you last copied into “Input 3”. It should look like this:

Scroll down a bit, leave the rest of the settings as they are, and click the blue “Convert” button. Then keep scrolling down and hit “Download”.

That should download a file with the .csv file extension. This can be opened with Excel or any other spreadsheet program, giving you a list of Instagram followers’ usernames. Done, for free.

Want help running your social media giveaway or have other questions about running a successful eCommerce business? Contact Sterner Stuff today!

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