Your ultimate goal is to grow your Instagram follower count. But despite your best efforts, the opposite is happening: You’re actually losing followers on Instagram and you don’t know why.
This is not good news. After all, your Instagram account is a key part of your marketing strategy.
So what can you do to rekindle the love affair with your followers and stop them from walking out on you?
There are lots of reasons for losing Instagram followers, so the first step is to work out which ones apply to you. To make it easier, we’ve singled five out the most common – as well as what to do about them.
So if you want to know how to stop losing Instagram followers, read on.
Reason 1: You’ve strayed from your niche. 🏃♀️
Most likely, people followed you because the style or theme of your content appealed to them. Maybe you even set yourself up as a topical authority in your niche.
If you stray too far in a different direction there’s a risk your followers will lose interest. This is because your content is no longer meeting the expectations you set at the start.
An account about vegan recipes is going to lose followers if it suddenly starts posting recipes for chicken fajitas. An account that posts high-quality travel photos will lose followers if it starts posting crude, gritty snaps. And so on.
This is not to say you can’t evolve. Evolving as your brand grows is crucial. So is getting creative and trying out new things. But the trick is to always keep the desires and expectations of your audience in mind.
Solution: If your content has shifted you have two options: The first is to return to your roots. Divert back to posting the kind of stuff your audience knows and loves (and aim to make it even better than before!)
Pottery Barn stick within their niche. Followers know they’re always going to get a steady stream of design tips and inspiring interior decor pics.
Or, commit to your change in direction, accept that you’ll have to sacrifice some followers, and focus on creating incredible content that satisfies your continuing follower base while also building up a new one.
Food account, Minimalist Baker, commits to a change in direction while still satisfying their existing crowd.
Reason 2: You paid for followers. 💰
It’s tempting to want to skip the hard work and slow growth. But as we’ve discussed before, buying Instagram followers isn’t worth it.
Often the follower accounts are fake, in which case there’s a good chance they’ll eventually be found out by Instagram and deleted (if you notice your follower count take a big dive at once it’s likely Instagram have done a cull of fake accounts).
And even if the followers are real, it’s likely they’re not genuinely interested in your content.
In other words, their ❤️’s aren’t in it.
And that means that as soon as they stop being compensated there’s nothing to make them stick around.
Solution: The best solution here is to forget about buying followers and focus on growing organically.
Learn how to be a master of Instagram hashtags. Write compelling captions. And, of course, take captivating images and videos.
Urban Outfitters make sure to engage their active follower base with snappy captions and encouragement of participation.
The better your content, the more genuine followers you’ll attract. And it’s the genuine followers who are in it for the long haul.
Reason 3: You’re overzealous on the sales pitches. 👨💼
If you’re a brand, your followers know that you want to sell them stuff. And if they’re genuine fans of your brand, they’re ok with that.
But no-one likes an overly pushy sales person. If all you ever post are sales pitches without the added value from your content, people are going to hit that unfollow button faster than you can say “don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity”.
Solution: Make sure all your content is beautiful, inspiring, or informative as well as promotional. Really, there’s no reason it can’t be both. Avoid too many graphics with “SALE!” splashed across them and instead focus on creating content your audience will love that features your product in a natural way
A beautifully-presented post with subtle sales pitch from homewares brand Crate & Barrel.
Another strategy is to compliment your sales posts with broader lifestyle content that’s of interest to your audience. Interspersing your product pitches with other creative content ideas will keep people engaged with your brand.
An example of fun content from Free People that isn’t selling anything except the brand’s personality.
Reason 4: You’ve created controversy. 😱
Another reason you may be losing followers on Instagram? You’re posting content that’s controversial in some way.
Political messages, support for certain causes… maybe you just have a really strong opinion about whether pineapple belongs on pizza. Some things are just bound to divide.
The bottom line here is that you can’t please everyone. And whether you’re a brand or an individual, it’s your choice whether you want to stick by your values at the risk of getting some people offside.
Solution: You could avoid posting anything divisive. But an even better option is to stand by your values and beliefs. You may lose some followers, but the ones whose values align with yours will stick by you even harder.
Starbucks proudly adheres to its brand values, undeterred by a degree of negativity.
Reason 5: Your followers were just gaming you. 🎮
There’s a common tactic in the Instagram game which can result in you losing followers, and it goes like this:
An account follows you, maybe even posts some sparklingly positive (but generic) comments on your posts. (Cool pic! 💥) We hate to say it, but they don’t really love you. They’re just trying to lure you into following them back.
And when you don’t, they’ll be out of your life as quickly as they entered it.
Solution: Some followers will come and go. 🤷 Well, if they were just bots trying to game you, good riddance to them. You want followers who are genuinely engaged.
Keep focusing on creating awesome content, using strong hashtags to help people find it, and building up followers in a natural and organic way. If people unfollow you on Instagram because they were just trying to build up their own account, you haven’t really lost anything anyway.
To sum up…
There are a number of different reasons as to why your Instagram account numbers could be dropping. Some of them are beyond your control – so why not focus on the ones that you can do something about?
First and foremost, do a review of your content and check if you’re still meeting the expectations of your desired audience.
Make sure all of your content gives some kind of value – even if it’s promoting your brand or products.
And focus on growing your audience organically rather than artificially.
All of these things together will help you to stop losing followers on Instagram and build your account instead.