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Can You Bring An Inactive Instagram Back From The Dead?

If you’ve ever taken a long needed break from social media, only to return months or years later, you might have wondered at the state of your now “dead” Instagram account.

Is it dead for good, or can you bring it back to life again?

Can you get your likes, comments, views, and follower growth back to where they used to be before you fell off the face of the digital earth?

I’ve been in that position, I’ve tested if it’s possible, and this post goes over the results.

How I Ended Up With An Inactive Instagram Account That Needed to Be Brought Back from the Dead

Can you bring an inactive Instagram account back from the dead?

I grew my Instagram account @gorattlethestars to over 80,000 followers in one year… then took an 8 month long hiatus from my business (for personal reasons) and a 16 month hiatus from posting to my Instagram because I didn’t know what to do with it after such a long break.

Would my followers even remember who I was? Would I start losing followers by the thousands as soon as I started posting again?

These things gave me anxiety, so I put it off for months even after I had come back to working on my business.

Now… I have this large account sitting there with tens of thousands of followers who may or may not remember me when I start posting again.

Is it possible to win back the love of my followers, get engagement back up, and start GROWING again?

These are the questions I set out to answer when I started this little experiment back in December:

To bring an Instagram account back from the dead.

I am writing down what I’m doing, the results, and my thoughts as I go along so you can decide for yourself if it’s possible for you.

Disclaimer: I have absolutely no idea how this will go. Perhaps I’ll lose half my followers. Perhaps I’ll remain stagnant. Perhaps I’ll bring it back to life and start growing like crazy again. It’s all a mystery at this point, but I’m excited to see what happens!

Related Reading: 3 Instagram Strategy Mistakes Keeping You From Success

Resurrecting a Dead Instagram Account, The Experiment Begins – December 14th

Efforts to revive @gorattlethestars have commenced. Today I am sourcing content to schedule to my account for the next month. I will use a combination of curated art-related photos and videos – the kind of stuff that worked well for me before.

My starting point:

bringing back a dead Instagram account experiment - starting point

Followers: 85,986

-127 vs. Nov 30 – Dec 06

Interaction: 85

Profile visits – 80

Website Clicks – 5

Reach: 48

Impression: 99

*Last post July 4, 2017 (yikes!).

^ These stats are all pretty sad, but to be expected when I haven’t posted in over a year. I’m surprised the numbers aren’t all zero!

This is the starting point, so from here I’ll start posting similar content to what I was posting over a year ago.

I’m going to start by posting content every other day and see how it goes from there.

January 15th Update – Losing Followers More Rapidly, Low Engagement

Can you bring an inactive Instagram account back from the dead?

My Instagram stats this month:

*Improvements highlighted in GREEN, while things that got WORSE are in RED.

Followers: 84,863 (-1,123 since last update)

-438 vs. Jan 01 – Jan 07 (-311)

^This has gone down considerably since last month (aka I’ve been losing more followers, and losing them faster than before). Bad news.

Interactions: 170 (+85)

Profile visits – 165 (+85)

Website Clicks – 5 (+0)

^I’m getting more interactions and profile visits compared to last month. It’s not a lot, especially for an account this large, but it’s something. Hooray for small victories!

Reach: 4,616 (+4,568)

Impressions: 11,460 (+11,361)

^Reach and Impressions have both gone up considerably since last month, which is what I would expect when going from zero posts to posting every other day.

Thoughts on what’s going on:

My first few posts that went up after a year of nothing performed better than I expected. My first video gained over 12,000 views which was above my average from before the break.

I gained over 1,200 likes on the first photo I posted which was also inline with my pre-break results.

However, things kept gradually going downhill from there.

At this point in time my videos are getting just over 1,000 views, and my likes for photos are only gaining 100-200. Abysmal for an account with a following of over 80k.

I’ve been curating content that has gone viral for others, so theoretically these posts should do quite well, or at least some of them should perform better than average. I’m posting them every other day.

But I obviously need to do more work in order to get back in the good graces of the Instagram algorithm. It’ll take more time consistently posting quality content for my ranking with the algorithm to improve.

I’m using niche specific hashtags of a range of sizes. But other than that, I’m not doing anything else to grow – no engagement groups, no following, no commenting or liking. Nada.

Related Reading: 3 Instagram Marketing Tips to Grow Your Biz Using Influencers

I’m not sure if there have been any algorithm changes since I started, or I am slowly getting penalized by Instagram after taking a long break. Maybe people unfollowing me after I showed up in their feed again after such a long period of time is sending red flags to Instagram about my account.

Who knows.

From here, I’ve decided to schedule another month’s worth of posts to see if things go back up – since they can’t get much worse! My engagement can’t realistically go down much lower…

This time around I’m posting a bit more infrequently – only every 3 days.

We’ll wait and see how things go. I might have to alter my strategy in order to get good results again.

Perhaps hiring a VA to do some growth strategy (liking, commenting, following, participation in engagement groups) for me will help me improve my results faster… will consider testing this if another month of activity doesn’t make an improvement.

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March 21st Update – Gaining Some Ground, But Still Losing Followers

Can you bring an inactive Instagram account back from the dead?

My Instagram stats this month:

Followers: 83,482 (-1,381 since last update)

-99 vs. Mar 07 – Mar 13 (+339)

^I’m losing followers less quickly now, in comparison to my last check ins. But still losing followers overall. I’m hoping this will eventually cross the threshold to GAINED followers if I keep at it long enough.

Interactions: 243 (+73)

Profile visits – 240 (+75)

Website Clicks – 2 (-3)

^I’m getting more interactions and profile visits compared to last month. Hooray! But website clicks are down… not a huge change since I only had 5 click last month anyway. 

Reach: 15,734 (+11,118)

Impressions: 26,966 (+15,506)

^These have both gone up considerably, about 10k each since January. This is REALLY good news, and I expect that once I get this high enough, my audience will start GROWING again.

Thoughts on what’s going on:

So I’m still losing followers, but I’m starting to lose them slower than before which is a plus. I’ve lost 2,504 followers since I started this experiment on December 14th, which obviously isn’t great. But as I said before the leak has started to slow.

Related Reading: How to Stop Losing Instagram Followers… and Gain Them Instead

I still haven’t done anything besides posting content – no engagement groups, no growth strategies being implemented. Just posting and using hashtags which could probably use a refresh since I’m using the same ones from over a year ago.

I need to do a hashtag audit, as the ones I’m using are probably the wrong sizes for me to be using now.

Still posting every 3 days, curating viral content posted by competing accounts and sharing it on mine. So it looks like scaling back to 1 post every 3 days hasn’t hurt me. I’ll keep doing this moving forward, though might scale back up later.

Since I haven’t been participating in engagement groups and I’m only reaching a fraction of my audience since it went cold, I haven’t managed to go viral again.

My video views have recovered. I’ve been able to get video views in the 6,000-12,000 views range which is an improvement. This seems to be on par with the views I was getting before my 16 month break, for average posts that haven’t gone viral.

Reviving a dead Instagram account

^ Posts getting between 6,000-12,000 views. An improvement on before.

My photo posts have not done well – many have been getting a dismal 100-200 likes! Bad news bears. I was averaging between 500-1,000 likes for photo posts before my long sabbatical. I have had a few (4 photos since my last update) get into this range though.

Because of this, I’ve mostly been posting videos. Which is a pain because it means I can’t make use of the automatic posting features with my scheduler… I have to keep going with the push notification things. Which isn’t a big deal, but kind of inconvenient.

April 26 Update – The Verdict: Yes, You CAN Bring an Inactive Instagram Account Back From the Dead 🧟

My Instagram stats this month:

Followers: 83,734 (+252 since last update)

+469 vs. Apr 12 – Apr 18 (+568)

^I’m finally GAINING followers again for the first time in over a year!

Interactions: 1,915 (+1,672)

Profile visits – 1,903 (+1,663)

Website Clicks – 9 (+7)

^BIG increase in interactions and profile visits in comparison to the last update. Website clicks still not doing much for me, but I haven’t mentioned my link once. This is something to play around with and test moving forward.

Reach: 334,854 (+319,120)

Impressions: 438,067 (+411,101)

^The power of going viral ladies and gentlemen. I’m finally getting those sky high numbers again, and we’ve improved +300K and +400K over last month’s update for these important stats. Very happy with this.

Thoughts on what’s going on:

Okay, NOW we’re getting somewhere. Finally, after four months of consistently putting out content.

This is the first time every single one of the metrics I’ve been measuring have been in the GREEN all at the same time.

So I’m finally GAINING followers again, after four months of posting again and losing followers in exchange for my efforts. I haven’t been gaining followers since I stopped posting to my account over a year and a half ago, so this is a first!

I’ve gained +469 followers this week which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s not bad either! It’s nice to finally see those numbers tick upwards instead of steadily falling.

At my peak I was over 90K followers (a year and a half ago), so we’ve got a ways to go to get back there. Perhaps we’ll set our sights on the coveted 100K for this year.

I STILL haven’t done anything besides posting content – no engagement groups, no growth strategies being implemented – nothing. Just posting with the aim to go viral and using hashtags which could probably use a refresh since I’m using the same ones from over a year ago.

Still posting every 3 days, curating viral content posted by competing accounts and sharing it on mine. So it looks like scaling back to 1 post every 3 days hasn’t hurt me.

I’m thinking about scaling this back up now that I’m growing again, to see if we can make a push for that 100K marker in the next few months.

I might go back to posting 1x per day the next time I’m due to schedule a batch of posts…. If I can get the Auto-Publish feature working on my Later account (it hasn’t been working since I signed up, and today I found out you can now auto-publish videos to IG – hooray!). We’ll see.

I’m starting to consistently have posts that go viral or “semi-viral”. I generally consider posts that get over 10,000 likes or 100,000 video views to be “viral” for me. Over 10,000 video views to be “semi-viral”. I mostly post videos so views is the metric I monitor most closely.

Here are a few posts that did well for me this month:

Viral easter egg Instagram video

Post 1 – Easter egg cracking

View: 55,670

Likes: 2,434

Comments: 48

viral miniature flip book Instagram video

Post 2 – Miniature flip book animation

View: 136,758

Likes: 9,165

Comments: 145

Bringing an Inactive Instagram account back from the dead

Post 3 – Handmade key chain

View: 96,246

Likes: 4,525

Comments: 12


Conclusion: Can an Inactive Instagram Account be Brought Back From the Dead? YES!

So to answer the question…

“Can you bring an inactive Instagram account back from the dead?”

The answer is a resounding YES!

However, it is up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

It took me a full FOUR months to start getting some real traction again with my account.

To be fair, I didn’t do everything I could to bring it back as fast as I could.

I didn’t implement any growth strategies, work on engaging with my target audience, or participate in engagement groups.

All I did was carefully curate my content for viral potential, select and use a full set of niche specific and size appropriate hashtags, and then posted to my IG consistently.

I would imagine it’s possible to get your account functioning optimally much faster than I did if you have the time to really put the effort into those other tactics.

So you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it in your own unique situation.

The good news is that it is 100% possible to bring a dead, inactive Instagram account that hasn’t been posted on in over a year, and bring it back to its former glory.

I urge you not to give up on your old, dead account. 🧟

Get started with my FREE 5-Day Instagram Bootcamp for creative entrepreneurs — and kick start your audience growth:

Brie Kirbyson

Hi! I'm Brie. I'm a social media marketer on a mission to help you grow your Instagram following, increase traffic with Pinterest, and make money from your online business or side hustle. I've grown my own Instagram accounts to a combined total of 110,000+ followers and helped hundred of people successfully grow their social media presence.

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