How Can You Tell When You Started Following Someone on Instagram?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Scroll to the top of your Instagram direct messages with the person to potentially see the original follow date.
  • Use third-party analytics tools like Social Blade to look up detailed stats on when you followed an account.
  • Check the Viewers list under Instagram Insights and click into each entry to find follow dates.
  • Sort your Following list by “Date Followed” to see the oldest follows at the top.
  • Ask the person directly if you have open communication with them on when you started following each other.


Instagram launched in 2010 as a photo sharing app and has since expanded to include videos, messaging, stories, and more. The platform now plays a central role in the social media ecosystem. With over 500 million daily active users, it’s no surprise that the average Instagram user follows hundreds of accounts.

But Instagram does not have a built-in feature to look up when you started following an account. The platform omits this detail to help users simply focus on the content being shared. However, there are still a few workarounds that make it possible to uncover follow dates.

This comprehensive guide will outline several methods to find when you started following someone on Instagram. Whether you want to analyze your social habits over time, pinpoint how long you’ve been connected to certain accounts, or just quell curiosity, these techniques will help uncover those original follow dates. By using direct messages, third-party analytics tools, Viewers lists, and more, you can get to the bottom of your Instagram follow history.

Direct Message Method

One of the easiest ways to find your original Instagram follow date is directly within your messages with the person. According to a 2019 study by Michigan State University, 74% of Instagram users utilize the platform’s direct messaging feature. If you’ve previously talked to someone on the app, the follow date may be right there at the top of your message history.

How Does It Work?

When you send your very first message to an account, Instagram displays the follow date above the conversation. For example, it may say “You followed username on July 15.” This indicates the exact date that you originally hit that blue Follow button on their profile.

The follow date remains pinned there permanently. So even if you send hundreds of messages back and forth over months or years, that initial follow date stays visible.

However, once either person unfollows the other, the follow date disappears from the messages. You must currently be following that user to see the details.


Relying solely on direct messages to find your original follow date has a couple limitations:

  • You must have previously messaged the person on Instagram. Without existing conversations, you won’t see any details.
  • If either you or the other person ever unfollowed and then re-followed, the messages will only show the latest follow date.

So while this method works great in many cases, it’s not foolproof. You may need additional strategies to uncover the very first time you followed certain accounts.

Third-Party Analytics Tools

If checking your DMs comes up short, the next best option is using third-party analytics tools. Services like Social Blade provide detailed Instagram stats including historical data on followers and followings.

Social Blade

Social Blade is a popular free service that tracks analytics for YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and more. When you search for an Instagram user, it displays an overview of their account. Under the “Followers” tab are stats on their new followers per day, follower rank, and more.

Most importantly, if you scroll down, it provides the exact date that you originally followed that account. Social Blade pulls this data directly from Instagram, so it is completely accurate.

The main limitation is that Social Blade only tracks statistics dating back to when they began compiling data on each account. For newer users this typically goes back to the creation of the profile, but for older accounts, the first follow date may be omitted.

Other Tools

In addition to Social Blade, services like Inflact, Ninjalitics, and IG Examine provide Instagram analytics with follow dates. Each tool varies slightly in features, data availability, and pricing options. But exploring a few different platforms increases your chance of finding the specific follow date you need.

Third-party analytics tools rely on pulling data directly from Instagram’s API. So while some services may cost money, the information is legitimate and accurate. These platforms offer the simplest way to get historical follow data beyond just your direct messages.

Instagram Viewers List

Instagram Insights provides analytics on your own profile performance, including the ability to see who exactly has viewed your story or profile recently. Checking this Viewers list can gradually help you uncover initial follow dates.

How It Works

To access Insights on Instagram, go to your profile and tap the bar graph icon in the top right. On the Overview page scroll down to see profile and story viewer data for the past 7 days.

Tapping “See All” will display a list of every account that has viewed your story or profile. While it doesn’t outright list when each account followed you, it does show profile visits in chronological order.

So by manually clicking into each Viewer entry, you can check if they currently follow you. If so, that follow had to happen before the recent profile view. So over time, you can slowly pinpoint ranges for when you followed certain accounts.


The Viewers list has two main limitations:

  • It only covers the past 7 days. To find older follow dates, you have to check in weekly.
  • Without precise follow dates, you can only estimate date ranges based on profile views.

So this method requires patience and effort over time. But as a free option using Instagram’s built-in analytics, it can help gradually narrow down those original follow dates.

Sort Your Following List by Date

Another workaround using Instagram’s native tools involves sorting your Following list by the date each account was followed.

How to Sort Your Following List

Pull up the full list of accounts you currently follow under your profile. Tap the three line menu in the top right corner, then choose “Sort By” and select “Date Followed.”

This will rearrange your Following list to show the accounts you followed first at the top. Scrolling down reveals more recent follows in chronological order.

So if you’re seeking the follow date for one specific account, you can quickly scroll until you find them to see their position in your list.


The limitations of using your Following list include:

  • It can be time consuming to scroll through hundreds or thousands of follows.
  • It only provides general date ranges based on an account’s position in the list.
  • Any previous unfollows/refollows will muddle the order.

Like the Viewers list method, this approach is best for gradually honing in on follow dates over a longer period of time. But as a built-in Instagram tool, it’s readily available to provide general date ranges.

Ask Directly

Sometimes the easiest and most straightforward approach is simply asking the other person directly. If you have an open and active line of communication with someone on Instagram already, just request details on when they first remember you following them.


The benefits of asking directly include:

  • It’s simple and takes minimal effort. Just send a quick DM or react to an Instagram story with the question.
  • The person may have more context around when the initial follow occurred based on posts, events, or other details from that timeframe.
  • It opens a conversation and opportunity to share details about the experience on both ends.


A couple potential limitations include:

  • The other person may not remember or know the specifics offhand. Relying on memory can lead to less precise dates.
  • Asking outright may seem awkward or random depending on your relationship and rapport.

But in many cases, just communicating directly can lead to the exact details you’re looking for, which beats searching through analytics and lists.


Why can’t I tell exactly when I followed someone on Instagram?

Instagram intentionally does not have a feature that shows the specific follow date for other accounts. The platform wants the focus to be on engaging with content, not follow data. But several workarounds using DMs, analytics tools, and your own profile can uncover approximate timeframes.

What if I accidentally unfollowed someone? Will the follow date disappear?

If either person unfollows the other, the original follow date from your DMs is erased. Analytics tools may retain some historical data if the refollow occurs quickly. But ultimately any temporary unfollowing resets the visible follow date.

Can someone tell when I originally followed them?

Others cannot see the exact date you began following them, just as you cannot see theirs for you. But they have access to the same Insights data and analytics tools to gradually piece together timeframes based on profile views, recent follows, and more.

Why is my initial follow date important?

For casual Instagram users, the specific follow date may not matter much. But for brands, influencers, loyal followers, and those who want to analyze habits, identifying the longevity of a connection can provide valuable context. The length of the relationship changes how content and engagement are perceived.

Can I export my full list of Instagram follows with dates?

Unfortunately Instagram does not allow you to export a list of your follows with the date followed metadata included. The platform has no public API endpoints that provide this data in an exportable format. So manual analytics methods are required to approximate original follow dates.


Finding out precisely when you followed someone on Instagram takes a bit more digging than the platform makes readily available. But for those curious to learn the details, there are several effective methods. Checking your direct messages, using third-party analytics tools, reviewing your own followers/profile visitors, sorting your Following list, and asking directly can all help narrow down the timeframe.

While no single approach provides the full picture, combining multiple techniques starts to paint a clearer portrait of your Instagram follow history. For those dedicated to piecing together the timeline of their connections and relationships on social media, a multi-pronged strategy can unlock the clues of when that first follow occurred. So whether your goal is satisfying curiosity, performing analysis, or simply deepening bonds, uncovering original Instagram follow dates is an enlightening process.

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