Losing Instagram followers is the worst, especially when you have no idea why.
Have you ever spent a long day active on Instagram, posting amazing content, engaging with your audience, gaining a handful of new followers — only to find that you’ve actually LOST followers by the time you wake up the next morning?
Perhaps you’ve crafted the most amazing photo, then painstakingly responded to every comment left by your fans, which netted you a whole 10 new followers! But alas, the good fortune was not to last, as you ended up losing 15 Instagram followers the next day.
So what gives? Why does this seem to happen to YOU all the time, while your competitors seem to be growing daily without a hitch?
You may be wondering:
- What am I doing wrong?
- Does everyone else gain followers and then lose them within 24 hours?
- How do I get unstuck and start gaining followers instead?
If you’re like some people I know, you occasionally feel like throwing in the towel on social media and going back to your day job instead. It would be a heck of a lot easier.
The Explanation: Why You’re Losing Instagram Followers
Before we go any further, I want to make it absolutely clear that:
It is completely normal to lose Instagram followers. It happens to everyone.
And just because Instagram unfollowers are driving you crazy, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong.
And here’s a little secret that most people aren’t aware of: the bigger your account gets, the more Instagram followers you’ll lose on a daily basis.
BUT if you’re doing things right, you’ll be gaining more followers on average, so your growth trajectory will be upwards over time!
As long as you aren’t constantly losing followers over the long term, you’re doing just fine.
If you’re wondering why you’re losing followers in the first place, here are the most common causes:
1.) Your Content Isn’t Resonating with Your Audience…
…or you’re not sticking to a unified theme, or your content has changed and it isn’t living up to what your audience expects to see from you.
Your followers usually expect to see a specific type of content from you, and you should try and stick within those parameters as best you can.
If you run an art account, try to avoid posting random selfies, pictures of your dog, and snaps of that delicious meal you had at that fancy new restaurant downtown. Keep your content to art related things, and you’re golden.
2.) You’re Getting Bot or Fake Followers. 🤖
You’ve probably seen several examples of automated bot accounts leaving completely irrelevant comments on your posts before, and you know how annoying they are. They’ll also mass follow people, then unfollow you a few days later.
Even if you haven’t bought fake followers (this is a big no-no — don’t do it!), you’ll accumulate at least some of these pesky accounts. There isn’t much you can do about it unfortunately, so it’s best to ignore them.
3.) People Doing the Follow/Unfollow Method.
This method can be used effectively when done right, but the vast majority of people use this method in a very spammy way.
They’ll mass follow a bunch of random people on Instagram hoping for a follow back, then unfollow you a few days later if you don’t follow them back.
4.) Using “Black Hat” Methods and Getting Limited By Instagram. 🎩
If you’ve bought fake followers, use an automation software that goes against Instagram’s rules, or have been implementing spammy practices like copy + pasting the same generic comments over and over…
Instagram is going to notice, and they’re going to limit your account.
Even if you don’t get caught outright ans shut down, Instagram can do things like limit your reach and visibility.
And if your followers aren’t seeing your content, your numbers will start dwindling over time.
5.) Posting Schedule Problems: You’re Either Not Posting Consistently or Too Much
I recommend posting 1-3 times per day if you want to stay on your followers’ minds and keep your content at the top of their Instagram feeds.
If you’re posting sporadically, you’re going to fall in ranking with the algorithm and get seen less frequently by your audience.
On the other hand, if you’re posting too much you can start to annoy your followers and lose them that way. Nobody goes on Instagram just to see you — they want to see content from the other people they’re following as well! So if you’re posting 5+ times per day and still losing followers, I’d suggest cooling it for a bit.
6.) Your Captions Are Boring. 😴
Pictures and videos aren’t the only important components of your Instagram content… your captions matter too!
A good captions provides tons of value, entertains your followers, and gets them to take some sort of action, such as liking your content, leaving a comment, or tagging a friend.
If you haven’t put much thought into your caption writing, they might be getting a bit boring or stale.
Nobody wants to see boring, uninspired content on Instagram, which can results in unfollows.
7.) You’re Not Engaging With Your Audience
After you’ve edited your photo to perfection, and written a witty, relatable caption with a strong CTA that gets your audience engaged and commenting, you’re still not done!
Your followers will notice when they take the time to leave a thoughtful comment and they don’t get a response. They may scroll through your past posts and realize that you NEVER respond to comments (oh the horror!).
People will unfollow if they realize you don’t engage, as it signals that you don’t really care about them or what they have to say.
Social media is all about connecting with others, so if you’ve left this aspect out of your Instagram strategy in the past, now is the time to start doing it.
Your followers will thank you.
8.) You’re Being Too Sales-y. 🤲
If you’re running an Instagram for your business, it’s important to actually promote your products or services to your audience.
But we run into a problem if you’re promoting to them ALL. THE. TIME.
Nobody likes to be sold to. But most people don’t mind as long as you establish a connection with them and provide tons of upfront value beforehand.
Your Instagram should never be a parade of posts featuring just your products. You’re selling the lifestyle that goes along with it. Give your audience what they want, and then you can find a balance between doing that and making sales.
Then at the end of the day everyone’s happy.
9.) People’s Interests and Attention Shift Over Time – Your Followers Just Might Not be That Into You Anymore.
I know my interests change over time, for example: I’ve personally gone on an “Inspirational Quotes” kick and followed a bunch of Instagram accounts that post quotes, and then unfollowed many of them a month or two later when I grew tired of them.
The good news about all of the above reasons for people unfollowing you is that there are a couple you can fix – and the rest can be safely ignored.
Here’s the ones you should ignore:
Should I block bots and people doing the follow/unfollow method?
I’m going to be blunt, and the short answer is NO.
I see this question asked a lot in online forums and in Facebook groups, so I know bots and follow/unfollowers is something that gets under a lot of people’s skin.
I get it. Having people or bots following then unfollowing you every day is annoying. You might want to punch them in the face.
But I highly recommend that you simply IGNORE them, and don’t worry about blocking them.
Because it takes a ton of energy (mental and physical) to deal with blocking the offenders every single day.
I can name about a hundred different things that would be a MUCH better use of your time, instead of getting worked up about bots and spammers on the internet.
Life’s too short for that!
Your talents and focus are much better directed towards creating amazing new content, writing an epic new blog post, or promoting your fabulous product to your audience.
Bots and people who indiscriminately follow/unfollow are never going to be true fans, loyal followers, or paying customers… so it’s best not to waste any of your valuable time dealing with them.
They’re technically not doing you any real harm anyway.
Did your Instagram followers drop suddenly?
Every so often, Instagram does what is known as a “purge” of bot and fake accounts.
When this happens, accounts across Instagram can lose thousands of followers at a time. Big name celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian have lost hoards of followers as a result.
Though this may be alarming, it’s actually a good thing. You want real people following you, not bots.
Because fake followers don’t engage with you in a meaningful way, and they DON’T buy your products or services.
So you can bit them good riddance and continue on with your day.
If you’ve bought followers in the past, your numbers will likely drop drastically all of a sudden in response to one of these Instagram purges.
The best way to avoid big losses in the future is to focus on growing an authentic following of real people who are interesting in what you have to offer.
Things you can do to stop losing followers on Instagram (or stop losing as many)
Alright, so we’ve established who is unfollowing you, and why they’re unfollowing you…
The next step is to zoom in on the problems you can actually fix, and then do something about it!
Even though losing followers is a normal part of how things work on Instagram, you probably want to do whatever you can to minimize how many Instagram unfollowers you have in order to maximize your growth.
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Here are the top 4 action items to stop losing followers on Instagram:
1. Check the quality of your content.
Are you consistently posting high quality content? If you’ve recently made a switch or are testing out a new style, perhaps it isn’t resonating quite as well with your audience if you see a spike in unfollowers.
Does your feed adhere to a cohesive theme? Remember to save your personal photos for your personal account. Things like pictures of you at a party or your food selfies are better kept for your personal account, to share with your friends and family.
The exception to this is if you are the face of your brand. If you have a personal or lifestyle Instagram, you can include more personal content as long as you can tie it into your overarching theme.
For example, if you are a travel influencer, you can definitely include photos of you travelling, or pictures of the food you’re eating at different restaurants while you are on your travels.
Related Post: 10 Awesome Websites to Find Free Instagram Photos
2. Socialize & engage with your audience.
You need to make a connection with your followers in order to turn them into raving fans and life-long supporters!
Responding to all comments is key. Follow some of your followers who post content that you’d like to see in your home feed. Give likes on your followers’ content, and leave thoughtful comments on their photos as well.
People are much less likely to unfollow you if they feel a personal connection with you. As a bonus, people who you establish a personal connection with are also more likely to sign up for you email list and buy your products as well!
It’s a total win-win.
3. Re-evaluate the methods you’re using to grow your following.
Apart from posting great content, what are you doing to attract new followers?
If you are liking, commenting, or following people in order to encourage them to follow you back, you want to make sure you’re hitting the right target.
Are you attracting your ideal audience?
Make sure you’re targeting people who have a proven interest in your niche or topic.
Try targeting different people to see if it makes a difference for you. In general, if you’re getting a lot of followers who aren’t super interested in the topic you post about, they’re not likely to stick around for very long.
So how do you find people with a proven interest in your niche?
There are two major ways to find your target audience on Instagram:
- See who is following your competitors, and direct your efforts towards attracting them via engagement (by liking or commenting on their posts, or following them).
- Search for niche specific hashtags and interact with people who are either following a specific hashtag, or who are engaging with posts that contain those hashtags.
4. Use smaller niche specific hashtags for all of your posts.
If you’re not already, make sure to use the maximum 30 hashtags for every post you publish to Instagram.
Hashtags help get your content out in front of new audiences, and when you use them your posts will show up in search when people type in a specific hashtag.
You can either post your hashtags in the caption, or hide them in a comment under the caption after you hit publish. Where you post them doesn’t matter, so it’s up to your own personal preference where you decide to put them.
Beyond using 30 hashtags, you need to make sure you’re using the RIGHT hashtags.
Selecting the “right” hashtags means:
- Niche specific hashtags: and not the super popular, general, or generic ones.
- Smaller hashtags: so you have a chance of ranking in the Top Posts section of the hashtag search page, where your content will get in front of a heck of a lot more people.
- Click here to read my Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags if you really want to make the most of this strategy.
You want to land your posts in the Top Posts section for as many hashtags as possible (max 30 per post). The higher you are ranked on the Top Posts page, the more people will find you on Instagram.
When selecting hashtags that are niche specific, you want to ask yourself: “What is my target audience member searching for on Instagram?”
Answering this can be a little bit tricky.
Let me use an example to illustrate what to do and what not to do:
Say you’re an Etsy shop owner who sells knitted owl plushies for babies, and you’ve been using the hashtag #etsyshop to attract new followers who you hope will turn into customers.
But consider what kind of people might be searching #etsyshop on Instagram.
Consider what your target audience is searching for on Instagram. People looking to buy handmade baby toys are much more likely to search for the more specific term #handmadebaby as opposed to the more general term #etsyshop.
People searching for cute toys or gifts for a baby aren’t likely to be searching for #etsyshop — it’s too general. There is a huge range of stuff that can be found and bought on Etsy, and most of it isn’t plushies, owls, or baby toys.
By using #etsyshop, you’re probably attracting other Etsy shop owners more often than people looking for handmade baby toys.
In general, here’s what you want to keep in mind when selecting which hashtags to use:
- Keep tags under a million in size, and make sure they’re niche specific. No broad tags that have nothing to do with your content or topic — these will only attract people who are likely to unfollow you (if they follow you at all).
Attracting the RIGHT audience and not random people is KEY to preventing you from losing Instagram followers
By using the above mentioned methods, you’ll attract more of the people who are truly interested in what you do. This is critical in keeping your followers for the long term.
Here are two example from my own experience, one showing what NOT to do, and one illustrating what you SHOULD do:
With my @gorattlethestars Instagram account, my goal was to attract artists, and other creative entrepreneurs by posting a lot of creative artsy content.
I was able to get some of my content to go viral, and gained followers very quickly as a result.
However, the type of content I was posting DIDN’T end up attracting serious artist and creative entrepreneurs who wanted to take their business seriously by learning how to grow their Instagram (which is what I teach on my blog).
Instead, my content attracted a lot of teenagers who liked art or only did it as a hobby. They weren’t the kind of people were interested in what I did over the long term.
As a result, I gained followers fast with this account but also lost followers more frequently.
On the other hand, my gardening account on Instagram @lobotany does a fantastic job of attracting my ideal audience! I post gardening photos which does it’s job in attracting hobby gardeners and gardening enthusiasts who end up following me long term.
These are great followers to have as they engage more frequently with what I post, they hop on over to my blog to read articles, and they buy my gardening-related products.
Though this account grows more slowly, it doesn’t lose as many followers and people are more likely to stick around long term as well as engage with my content through leaving lots of likes and comments.
The lesson here?
Losing followers is nothing that can’t be fixed!
There are some reasons you’re losing followers that you should ignore, such as bot accounts and people doing the follow/unfollow method.
But there are also things you can actively work on in order to reduce the amount of Instagram unfollowers you have. As long as you can look critically at your Instagram strategy and correct it where you’ve gone wrong, you can adjust your sails and get things moving in the right direction.