You Won’t Increase Followers on Instagram If You’re Making These 7 Mistakes

“How can I increase followers on Instagram??” is one of the most common questions every Instagram user keeps trying to answer. Sometimes, it even seems that Instagram hates you, as no matter what you do, the number of followers doesn’t increase.

If you notice that the number of your Instagram followers isn’t increasing, there likely is a problem with your strategy. Being “stuck” signifies that something isn’t working, and it’s time to review your activities.

View Instagram as an ever-evolving platform as its users are constantly exposed to different types of content. 

Trying minor changes, such as adding different hashtags or changing posting times, may improve the situation. However, often the problem lies deeper than that.

I’ve worked with many businesses that, at some point, were stuck – they didn’t increase followers on Instagram for weeks or even months. It’s actually a pretty common thing.

Many of us tend to find that one strategy that works and use it over and over again without ever realizing that it’s time to change.

In this article, I’ll share 7 mistakes that many users make. If you’re making them, too, you won’t increase followers on Instagram. I will also share some of the solutions to these commonly encountered Instagram mistakes.

increase followers on instagram

#1: You don’t have a clear Instagram content strategy

Believe me or not but a lot of businesses on Instagram have no clear strategy. They assume that posting whatever they post on Facebook, TikTok, their blog, or their website will also work on Instagram. The sad reality is that each of these channels requires individual strategy.

Having a one-size-fits-all kind of approach is one of the biggest social media mistakes that will definitely make it impossible to increase followers on Instagram.

It is up to you to come up with a plan for Instagram that will complement and go in line with your overall marketing strategy. Keep in mind that Instagram is a highly visual platform, and your content has to be engaging.

When I first started working with my clients, many of them (if not a majority) used vague terms like “I want Instagram to help me to get more sales.” Fair enough, it is a legit business goal; however, it’s not an Instagram strategy.

A strategy or a plan is how you’ll achieve your goal. Without a plan for your content, there is no point in wasting time on Instagram, as your chances of succeeding are very low.

How can you fix it?

First of all, decide what your Instagram goal is. If you want to get more sales through Instagram, how will you achieve it? Are you going to sell directly on Instagram or drive traffic to your sales page on the website?

Your goal can be anything: drive more traffic to your website, build brand awareness, get new followers, grow your newsletter subscribers’ list, sell on Instagram, etc.

Once you have the goal in mind, you can start thinking of the content strategy to achieve that goal.

Below is a real-life example of how to create an Instagram content strategy.

A business that sells healthy snacks wants to get followers who’d buy them. Potential customers may not purchase instantly; they may follow the account for weeks or months before buying. The three main objectives for Instagram content are:

  • Build trust by introducing new followers to your brand values;

  • Share lots of free, high-quality content about the snacks and their benefits;

  • Directly promote healthy snacks and allow your followers to buy them.

Knowing these three objectives will help you stay focused. It will also make your product and brand stand out.

Having a proper strategy helps you build a straight route to accomplish your goal and also increase followers on Instagram.

#2: Your captions are dull

Even though Instagram is a highly visual platform, captions play an important part in engagement. Long gone are the days when captions were not important; in fact, now they play a crucial role.

Instagram has become a platform for micro-blogging. So make sure that your captions are well-written, relevant, and give value to the readers. Sure, not every user is going to read them, but those who do are the ones that’ll build a stronger connection with your brand.

Captions help you deliver personalized experiences and connect with your audience on a more emotional level.

You’ll be surprised that many businesses ignore and post content without proper captions. Use that space to explain your content, give context, educate your audience and give value to them.

Content creators need to be more hands-on with the content that they create. It may be easy to snap a picture or create a video, but adding a caption that will speak of the needs, wants, fears or solutions that your audience is looking for will spark an instant emotional connection with your brand.

Your visual content may be stunning, but if your captions are poor, it’ll be much harder to increase followers on Instagram or make the audience engage with your posts.

How can you fix it?

To avoid making this Instagram mistake, the best advice I give to my clients is to show authenticity and personal experiences. You don’t have to be vulnerable in captions, but you should showcase how your product or service helps or benefits your followers. You can use real-life situations.

Imagine that people who discover your posts have no clue what your business is about. You want to show authority and build trust.

Treat your captions as micro-blog posts – give context, explain why people should care, and tell the story. Don’t hard sell, as hard-selling doesn’t work on Instagram. Instagram is about experiences and lifestyle; this should be reflected in your posts and captions.

#3: You concentrate on followers too much

Yes, I know this article should give you the answers to how to increase followers on Instagram. However, are you perhaps concentrating on the number of followers too much?

The number of followers is an important metric; however, it’s not the key one. I frequently advise my clients to focus on engagement rate rather than the number of followers. The reason is simple – the higher your engagement, the more exposure your content will get and the more followers you’ll gain.

You see, the Instagram algorithm pushes engaging content to more eyes. It deems such content to be worthier. More eyes mean higher exposure and more followers as a result.

How can you fix it?

Instead of only focusing on the number of followers, shift your focus to engagement. Make it a regular routine to track the engagement of your posts, analyze it, see what works and what doesn’t. 

Produce highly engaging posts to increase the reach of your posts. Adding calls-to-action (CTA) in your captions can help increase engagement.

Sometimes your followers need to be reminded what they need to do, and adding “Like if you agree that nuts are the healthiest snack!” or “Comment what your favourite healthy snack is” can dramatically boost your engagement rates.

#4: Your posting is not consistent

Frequent posting generally results in more engagement and, thus, more followers. However, it requires more time to plan and execute. Remember that you shouldn’t post too frequently (one or two times a day is sufficient). Posting too often may be seen as spammy.

You also want to show your prospective followers that you have fresh content for them on a regular basis. Nobody wants to follow an account that posts once a month. In the end, there should be a reason for someone to follow you.

You won’t be able to increase followers on Instagram until you prove to them that you’re committed to sharing valuable content with them. It’s best to have a content calendar where you can outline and plan your posts. 

Remember, consistency is key on Instagram. Making inconsistent posts is one of the biggest Instagram mistakes, and you should avoid it at all costs. 

The more followers you get, the more time it’ll require for you to maintain them, let alone expand. This is especially true when you hit the 5-digit mark.

How can you fix it?

Understandably, you may not be able to produce new content daily. However, this isn’t an excuse. Therefore, you should plan your content in advance.

A good practice is to devote one day a week to preparing all the content (visuals, captions, and hashtags) for the next week. You can create a content calendar which will make tracking much easier.

If you wish to invest, you can use software that will automatically post at a selected time. However, this is only available to Instagram Business Accounts.

#5: You aren’t social

Instagram is a social media platform, and believe it or not but you’re expected to socialize on it.

If you want to get your name out there, you should engage with the relevant content in your niche. Not only will this help you put your name forward, but it may also lead to collaborations or partnerships, which is a great way to grow.

Treat your mission to increase followers on Instagram as making friends in real life. To make friends, you have to get out and socialize, and engage in conversations with other people. 

The same is true about Instagram – you should step out of your comfort and make connections (through likes, comments, and DMs) with other accounts. Only in this way you’ll be able to gain more new followers.

So, don’t be shy! Instead, start building relationships on Instagram.

How can you fix it?

The easiest step is to reply to all comments under your posts. Make sure you genuinely react to these messages as they are public and can build a stronger bond with your followers. Nobody likes a brand that’s too “arrogant” to reply to a comment.

Even worse is to ignore a post where your brand is tagged in. This is by far one of the biggest Instagram mistakes that many brands make. If someone took the time to post about your brand, the least you should do is acknowledge it with a like and a comment.

You should also look for other content creators within your niche and engage with their content. Leaving a nice comment or liking their post can help you increase your brand awareness.

You can even step one step further and engage with influencers who may be interested in engaging with your content.

#6: You sell too hard

Do you find ads annoying? In the end, there is a reason why ad-blockers were invented. What’s your reaction when your YouTube video is interrupted by an ad? Annoyance.

The same can be said about Instagram. Even though you may not post ads, if you’re selling your product too hard, people still disengage, and you’ll start losing your followers.

So, not only will salesy content make people unfollow you, they’ll make it super hard to increase followers, as people won’t want to follow an account that’s only hard selling. 

How can you fix it?

The golden rule for Instagram content is to keep it inspirational, educational or entertaining.

If not bad to use Instagram to raise awareness of your brand or sell, but you HAVE to make it subtle. You cannot expect people to engage with promotional ads.

Be less promotional and make your content more valuable to your audience. Instead of a straightforward CTA to buy something, try educating your audience on how the product benefits them. Add more substance to your captions.

Instead of hard-selling your product and shouting about your brand, try showcasing the value your product will bring to the customers. 

#7: You bought followers

I left the last one as, by far, the biggest Instagram mistake that will have a detrimental impact on your follower growth. 

There are thousands of so-called Instagram “experts” who advise buying followers. Even though it may seem very tempting, it’ll permanently damage your account, and you can forget about increasing followers on Instagram.

Instagram has been working really, REALLY hard on busting fake accounts. So the money that you’ve spent on fake followers will be wasted sooner or later as Instagram will remove them from the platform.

Imagine waking up and seeing your followers drop by thousands! (It has happened to one of my clients)

Sadly, there’s nothing much you can do if you use illicit means to acquire followers; you’ll end up on Instagram’s backlist. It means that your content will be shadowbanned, and nobody (apart from you and your existing followers) will be able to see it.

Another sham you shouldn’t fall for is the “follow/unfollow strategy.” It’s a big waste of time and detrimental to your account’s growth.

How can you fix it?

It’s easy – never ever buy followers, and don’t follow shady too-good-to-be-true strategies. Check the strategies that seem too easy. The internet is full of shady growth strategies that only damage your account.

However, if you bought followers, don’t panic.

In most less severe cases, the shadowban will be lifted on your account, but it’ll take time. It can take anywhere from weeks to months. During this waiting time, post normally and expect extremely low engagement and poor results. You’ll have to prove to Instagram that your content is worth to be shared with other users.

In severe cases, Instagram will shadowban your account permanently, and you’ll have no choice but only to create a new account and start your growth from zero.

How else can you increase followers on Instagram?

Chances are you make one or more Instagram mistakes; as a result, you cannot increase followers on Instagram. The worst is to give up and blame the platform for your failure. Instead, you should work to change your strategy and improve.

These mistakes are extremely common. Many influencers and businesses made them at some point on their Instagram journey. It’s never too late to fix the mistakes and improve your strategy to facilitate growth. 

However, if you’re lost, you may want to engage with professionals who’ll advise you based on your business objectives and help you come up with the best approach.

Alternatively, you can consider running a third-party Instagram Audit to discover the gaps in your existing strategy. An audit will also give you a clear action plan which will help you prepare and plan better.


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