Losing Followers on Instagram? 9 Best Strategies You Shouldn’t Ignore

Follower count is one of the most critical metrics on social media. Everyone wants to have a big audience, that’s why losing followers on Instagram may impact your engagement, audience, and overall Instagram strategy.

Instagram influencers are particularly preoccupied with large numbers of followers. The follower count becomes an essential metric to determine one’s success and popularity on the platform. As a result, many brands deem that influencers with a large following are more desirable to work with.

This is the reason why everyone is obsessed with the number of followers and would do anything to increase it.

So, you have been using every trick in the book to get followers on Instagram, you have been frequently posting excellent quality and engaging content, and engaging with other accounts, but the number of your Instagram followers hasn’t been increasing. In fact, you notice the opposite – you’ve been losing your Instagram followers

I know it can be frustrating. That’s why I want to share some of the reasons why you may be losing followers on Instagram, how to prevent the loss, as well as some strategies to get them back.

There are many different reasons why you may be losing followers on Instagram. Some are more complicated and beyond your control, while some may be due to your actions on the platform.

One thing is sure – if you notice the loss of your followers, it’s better to find out the reason why before it leads to any more severe issues.

losing followers on instagram

Why are you losing followers on Instagram?

It can be a combination of multiple reasons. Take a look at the list below and see whether any of them apply to you:

  1. Instagram has been removing bot accounts
  2. your profile seems confusing
  3. your content is of poor quality
  4. you’re posting too little (or too much)
  5. your posts are too sales-centric
  6. you keep on posting about the same thing
  7. you don’t use the right hashtags
  8. you bought a lot of followers in the past
  9. Instagram shadow-banned you

Let’s take a look at these reasons one by one. I’ll share some possible solutions that you could use to fix the issues and hopefully get back on track, gaining followers on Instagram back.

Instagram has been removing bot accounts

To ensure the quality of the platform, Instagram (like any other social media account) regularly removes fake and bot accounts. The reason for this is simple – Instagram wants to keep the users that are genuine, engaging, and add value to the platform.

In fact, the removal of the bot accounts is one of the main reasons why the number of followers may drop. If it’s the case, there is nothing to worry and this drop is beyond your control.

So, the next time you notice that you lost tens or hundreds of followers overnight, it most likely happened because of Instagram clean-up and deactivated fake users on the platform. Instagram removes fake accounts in large batches and it happens every couple of months.

You should take this drop as a positive change on your profile. Having fewer bot followers who don’t engage with your content will increase your engagement rate. And engagement rate is the most important metric on Instagram today.

Fake followers are nothing else but a statistic. They have never engaged with your content, nor did they add any value to you. You can think of them as if they never existed.

What to do next?

Since the removal of the bot accounts is beyond your control, there is nothing much you can do about it. If you’re sensitive about the number of followers that you have, you should continue producing amazing content that will get the attention of other users, and they will follow you.

In this way, you’ll be able to reclaim the lost number of followers in no time.

You should also never engage with any app or service provider that offers to grow the number of your Instagram followers. These are a hundred percent fake followers that you’ll spend your money on, and they will be deleted by Instagram in no time. Your money will be wasted, and you’ll violate one of Instagram’s rules which may result in the banning of your account.

Your profile seems confusing

Your profile is like your business card; it must be clear and show value to the follower. If someone visits your profile and leaves thinking “what is this profile about?”, then you’re in trouble – your profile isn’t clear enough.

These are several things that you should take a look at:

  • am I using my personal photo or a brand logo as the profile picture?
  • is my bio clear enough and gives insights into what my account is about?
  • does my bio explain how I will benefit my followers?
  • does my profile look trustworthy at the first glance?
  • is my bio engaging?

There are millions of similar accounts to yours. Therefore, you should make your profile very clear and your audience should understand immediately who you are and why they should choose to follow you.

Also, take a look at the last nine posts. Can you clearly tell what the theme of your Instagram account is? Are you posting posts that fall under one common topic (e.g., fashion, travel, food, DYI, cats, etc.)? If you’re posting content that’s not related, it will confuse your audience and they will not be keen on following you.

What do to next?

Use Instagram Audit tools to assess your profile. It may be true that from the outsider’s standpoint, your profile seems confusing. If this is the case, ensure that you make it clearer.

As the first step, you should use your personal photo or your brand’s logo as the profile picture. It gives credibility and builds trust.

Secondly, revamp your bio. Briefly explain who you are and why people should follow you. Your bio is an introduction, a hello to your story, which is expressed through your posts.

Thirdly, choose one theme (or two that are closely connected) and produce content only within this theme. Anything that’s outside it, shouldn’t be posted as it won’t add any benefit to your existing audience and will confuse potential followers.

Your content is of poor quality

Instagram is a highly visual platform. Therefore, if you’re posting pictures that are of low quality, people will unfollow you. The reason is simple – there are millions of other content providers who share above-average photos. Instagram is home to many photographers, designers, media companies, and other folks that are gifted in producing amazing content.

If you don’t have a great camera, you may consider investing in getting one. If you’re not good at photo editing, there are affordable online courses that’ll give you a decent foundation in editing.

However, spectacular photos aren’t the only reason to follow you. Your content should tell a story and be relatable. If your photos are great, but Instagram captions are mediocre – it’s one of the reasons to unfollow you.

Microblogging has been becoming more and more popular on Instagram. More and more content creators use the caption space to tell a story and relate with their followers. If you’re not utilizing that space well, your chances of getting followers decrease.

However, the quality of your posts can also be assessed by looking at how relevant it is to your followers. Do you think they’ll benefit from whatever you’re sharing? If they don’t, it’s best not to share at all.

What to do next?

Assess your content: do you think you could improve the visuals? Do you think you could tell a better story in your captions?

There is always a way of doing things better. Consider taking a photography course that’ll tell you the best ways of taking photos for Instagram. Try exploring beyond basic photo editing available on Instagram, but even learning to edit using more sophisticated tools, such as Photoshop.

Finally, plan and write your captions in advance. Consider them as micro-blog posts that are relevant, beneficial, and inspiring.

It’s best to create a solid, long-term Instagram marketing strategy that you’ll stick to.

You’re posting too little (or too much)

Believe it or not but the quantity of your Instagram posts directly correlates with the number of followers.

Let me share an example.

Image, you post 1 picture a week. The picture reaches 1000 people. Out of 1000 people, 10% will like your post, and maybe 5 will follow your account (that’s 0.5% of your total reach).

Now imagine that you post 4 pictures a week. Each of them still reaches 1000 people (total weekly reach of 4000). Based on the same metrics, you’d get 20 followers per week.

The more frequently you post, the bigger the exposure of your account, the higher the number of followers you could get.

A lot of Instagram experts assert that the best results can be achieved by posting every day. However, don’t post every day, if it reduces the quality of your posts. In that case, aim to post at least 3 times per week.

So, if you’re currently posting once a month or without any clear time frame in mind, your existing followers are likely to unfollow you, because they don’t get any value by following your account. Similarly, even if you get new followers with your new posts, they’ll unfollow you once they realize that there is little benefit to them.

Posting not enough can hurt your efforts of getting and maintaining followers. Similarly, posting too much will create an impression that you spam too much. Avoid posting more than twice per day, and if you do post multiple times per day, have at least a 3-4 hour gap between your posts.

It’s different when it comes to Instagram Stories. You can post more frequently, but avoid having more than 10 Stories per day. The engagement dramatically decreases if you post too many Stories in a single day.

What to do next?

Answer this question: How many times do I post per week?
A. less than 3 times
B. between 3-14 times
C. more than 14 times

If you answered A, you post too little. If you answered C, you post too much.

Depending on your answer A or C, you’re either not reaching enough people with your posts, not giving them enough benefits to keep on following you, or you post way too much and it annoys them.

Create an Instagram content calendar and plan your posts in advance. In this way, you’ll be sure to post the right amount of content.

Your posts are too sales-centric

Instagram content that is too promotional might put off people from following you. So, if you’re posting 7 times a week and all your posts are sales-centric, it will lead to people unfollowing you.

Instagram isn’t the best platform to be overly sales-oriented. Even if you are a company that uses Instagram for sales generation, your standard sales pitches won’t really work. Instead, Instagram can be used to educate and showcase the human side of your brand.

You should use Instagram as a channel to get attention (brand awareness) of your audience and entice them to go down the sales funnel via a landing page or any other way.

You can also use Instagram as a source to drive the further conversation in comments and DMs, instead of just asking to visit a landing page and buy. There is a reason why links aren’t supported in Instagram captions. Instagram doesn’t want its users to go and explore other websites.

What to do next?

Shape your Instagram strategy to be less about sales and more about engagement, education, and relationship-building with your followers. You can certainly share some sales pitches, but keep this type of content to a minimum.

I like suggesting my clients pick one day in a week when they share something sales-related. It can be any day of a week, but you’ll have to stick to it and share sales material only then. The other 4 days should have a different purpose.

You keep on posting about the same thing

Instagram has become a platform to discover new things. I am sure you’ve been following some healthy food accounts, maybe some accounts that teach yoga and workout routines, maybe some pet accounts, etc. The purpose of Instagram has become to educate and entertain.

You may have the best quality, super engaging captions, but if your posts are about the same thing that 10 other accounts are sharing, chances are high people will unfollow you.

Create unique content that adds additional value to your followers.

You can also repurpose your previous posts, but make sure to add a new twist to them. If you’re using the same visual from two months ago, create a new caption. It’ll pass as brand new content as chances are high your long-time followers won’t remember it, and new followers will consider it new.

Even if you’re posting about something that many people have posted, share your unique perspective or experience. It will make your content stand out and be much more relatable to your followers.

What to do next?

Are you posting unique content?

If the answer is maybe or no, it’s time to re-evaluate your content strategy.

If you’re sharing about the same trendy restaurant that other 10 Instagrammers have already shared, add a unique twist to it. How was your experience there? Did something, in particular, make the experience great or terrible? Places, workouts, tips, can be the same, but everyone has a different experience with them. Make sure to showcase yours.

If you’re reposting your old post, make sure to have plenty of time in-between. Each time you share the same post, add something new to it, share a different approach or give additional information to make it seem brand new.

You don’t use the right hashtags

A great hashtag strategy is amongst the most important Instagram growth strategies that you should have. It is evident, hashtags help users discover your content. They play an important role in your Instagram growth and likely your followers discovered your profile through hashtags.

The reason why the numbers of your followers’ drop can be linked to your hashtag usage.

  1. Have you stopped using hashtags?
  2. Have you been using the same hashtags over and over again?
  3. Have you audited the hashtags that you’re using?

If you stopped using hashtags, the discovery of your content has become more complicated. However, if it’s your strategy moving on, I suggest you check out my blog post about how to grow Instagram without hashtags. You’ll find some tips that will make a positive impact on your growth.

If you’ve been using the same hashtags for all of your posts, chances are high Instagram decided to show your content to a smaller reach of people. It is just how Instagram works – my advice is to work out a list of hashtags that work best for your industry and continuously interchange them in your posts. You’ll notice that your reach increases, and it can lead to more followers.

Finally, are you using hashtags that are too crowded or too niche? Are you using hashtags that are blocked? Using hashtags that are too broad (for example, #dinner (112m posts), #friends (423m posts), #travel (577m posts), etc.), or too niche (for example, #germanfoodinnyc (4 posts), #marketingtipsforsmallbusinesses (328 posts), #beautyproductsuk (1000 posts), etc.) isn’t a good strategy.

Hashtags that have millions of posts won’t help to catch the attention of potential new followers. They are too crowded and content just drops down to the bottom of the page within the first couple of minutes after posting.

Similarly, hashtags that have too few posts mean that very few people are searching for them. It means that your content will be on the top of the page for days or weeks, but nobody will see it, because nobody will use such a search query.

The best is to choose hashtags that have somewhere between 20k-60k posts.

What to do next?

Do proper research on your hashtags. Using hashtags is a strategy on its own and it requires attention and proper planning.

Once you create a list of Instagram hashtags that have potential, don’t just forget about them and use them for years. You should continuously monitor their performance and check on their popularity. Do other people post content using them? If you’re the only one who posted the last 10 posts, then maybe it’s better to find a new hashtag.

Check if your hashtags aren’t banned. Posting content with banned hashtags can result in Instagram shadow-banning your account which will prevent your content to be shown to other users.

Always use relevant hashtags. If you post a picture on the beach in Malaysia, don’t hashtag #newyork, as it’s considered spamming.

You bought a lot of followers in the past

If you bought Instagram followers in the past and you noticed that the number of your followers dropped overnight, the answer is simple – Instagram removed the fake accounts.

In most cases, purchased followers are fake bots. Instagram has been very aggressive in removing these accounts from the platform, which results in you losing your money (since you paid for them) and followers.

If you buy a lot of Instagram followers, it is also possible that Instagram shadow-banned you or even blocked your account. It means that your content won’t be discoverable by other users, which will make it impossible for people to follow you.

The risks of buying Instagram followers way outweigh the advantages of doing it.

What to do next?

If you lost your followers overnight, you should test if your content is visible to other users. Try posting content and click on one of the hashtags. If your content appears in the feed under the hashtag, then your content can be discovered by other users. Continue creating high-quality content and you’ll get the followers.

However, if your post doesn’t appear when you click on a hashtag – Instagram shadowbanned you.

No need to panic about it, shadowbanning is often temporary and your account will be visible again in a week or so. During the shadowbanning, don’t engage or use Instagram – don’t like other posts, don’t comment, and don’t post any posts.

Never buy followers again!

Instagram shadowbanned you

If your content doesn’t appear under the hashtags that you used in the posts – your account was shadow-banned by Instagram. Likely you violated one of the rules (such as used bots to get followers, used the follow/unfollow strategy, your content was reported, posted illicit content, etc.).

You wouldn’t know if you got shadowbanned by Instagram, because there is no official warning. All looks the same when you log back in – the only difference is that your content is invisible to the public.

The shadowban is not permanent and your account will sooner or later become visible again. It’s not entirely clear when as it depends on how harsh Instagram was on you. I’d expect at least 5 days of shadowban.

During that time, take some break from Instagramming – don’t post, don’t comment, don’t like or message anyone.

5 or more days after, try posting some content and check if you appear back under hashtags. If you do, then your shadowban was lifted. You’ll notice that your reach is getting back to normal – however, it’ll take a week or so for it to hit pre-ban reach.

What to do next?

There isn’t much to do next. While you’re taking a break from Instagramming, take a look at Instagram policies to find out what’s allowed and what’s not. This way you’ll be sure to avoid being shadowbanned again in the future.

If you know why you were shadow-banned, don’t repeat the same action again as it will result in further shadow-banning and repeated offenses can even result in permanent deletion of your account.

How can I improve my growth strategy with an Instagram Audit?

Sometimes losing followers can be attributed to wrong strategies. Nothing can be done unless the mistakes and issues are well highlighted and a new strategy is created.

Instagram is complex and if you’re not sure about certain things, it’s best to work with Instagram marketing experts to perform an Instagram Audit.

By auditing your account you will know if everything is set up properly, if your current strategy needs improvement. An audit can also be a great way to take a look at your strategy from a different angle and get external insights for opportunities that are available.

Our Instagram audits will look at more than 45 most common questions, they will benchmark your post engagement in terms of average engagement rates on Instagram, they will look at your profile, your content strategy, hashtag strategy, and your followers. The key to a successful audit is to find out whether the current activities and performance are in line with the overall goals.

Our audits come with a personalized summary that will outline the main strategies that could improve the results and help reach the goals.

Today, competition on Instagram is as fierce as never before. Knowing exactly what has been working and what needs further improvement can make all the difference and set you apart from your competition.

Final thoughts on losing Instagram followers

There can be many reasons why you are losing your Instagram followers. Some are easily addressable, but some are beyond your control.

Instagram has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Naturally that having more content creators amped up the competition, but, on the other hand, it gave users a choice to choose who they wanted to follow.

A fluctuation in followers is a natural thing. You’re likely to lose one or two, to gain one or two. The problems become more serious when you’re losing more followers than actually getting. If this is the case, refer to the reasons and solutions listed out in this article.

If you feel like you’ve done everything or need an external assessment of your Instagram strategy and growth, consider getting your account audited by a professional.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *