One fine morning in the sweltering summer heat of May, I noticed something odd on Instagram. I had lost 45 Followers, dropping my total following to a measly 356. It’s true, I was randomly losing followers for the last couple of weeks. But with this large drop, all my hopes of an aspiring career as an Instagram influencer came to a halt.
To be fair, I posted on Instagram once a month and most of my followers were friends and acquaintances. So this isn’t a huge loss. But unlike me, you might be a content creator who depends on Instagram for business. In which case, it is fair to worry about why you’re losing Instagram followers.
For most Instagrammers their first instinct might be to recall on the great purge of 2014 and ask:
Is Instagram deleting my followers?
It is not unheard of for Instagram to delete your followers. In fact, back in 2014, Justin Bieber lost more than 3.5 million of his 23 million followers. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian lost 1.3 million of her 23 million followers and Beyoncé lost more than 800,000.
In all fairness, the 2014 algorithm update resulted in a deletion of paid followers only.
Instagram has warned users that it will be cracking down on inauthentic followers. This includes bots, inactive accounts, and third-party apps.
But good news, is that unless you’ve been using shady tactics, your account is safe.
Here are some examples of black-hat practices to avoid.
Buying followers are the quickest way of losing Instagram followers. If the purge is any sign, Instagram dislikes third-party apps and paying for followers.
But could you be paying for followers without knowing about it?
The answer is yes. Do you have a marketing agency managing your account? Could it be possible that they’ve used black-hat tactics like buying followers?
Steer away from shady companies who promise to get you, 10,000 followers for $10. If the offer sounds too good to be true it most certainly is.
Using Bots and Third-party apps
As I write this, I understand that I could be putting in all the wrong ideas in your head. But I guarantee you these shady tactics will get you banned.
Instagram has banned chatbots that reach out to people and encourage follow-backs. In recent years, several third-party bots/apps have had to close their operations.
So here’s a brain teaser – Did everyone who loses Instagram followers pay for their followers? Well, I didn’t. I never paid for an app or hired a firm to manage my account but I still lost followers. The hard truth is that sometimes you might be doing everything by the books and still lose followers.
Here are 8 reasons why you might be losing Instagram followers
1. Your follower’s preferences have changed.
Its been almost 10 years since Instagram launched and the platform is anything but new. In the 10 years we’ve been on Instagram, people have graduated from school, got married, and had kids. We’ve all done a lot of growing and it’s safe to say that we’re not the same person we were 10 years ago.
The downside of being on Instagram for a long time is that your followers have changed. And as they grow as individuals they’re also growing out of old habits.
As an influencer or business owner, you too should grow in how you create content. If you’re interested in keeping followers, find out what they currently like, and cater to their needs. At the same time, you should also realize that some of these followers are never coming back. It would be better to find a new base of followers who are more relevant to the type of content you create.
2. You’ve changed too and some people don’t like that.
Growth is not exclusive to your followers. As a content creator, you too have grown and your tastes have changed as well. But even though growth is a good thing, it’s worth examining if the new you agree with your followers.
Often, as we get older and more experienced, we tend to be more cautious. It’s not uncommon for brands to be rebellious in their early days and dial it down later down the line. Most brands that follow this path alienate their core fan base and lose them in the process.
3. Your followers haven’t heard from you in a long time.
We know that post frequency matters. But could posting less actually influence people to unfollow?
The answer is a definite yes. Most users on the platform are conscious about who they follow. As a brand, if you’re not creating new content, your users don’t have a reason to keep following you.
3. You are posting content too frequently.
Posting too much can be as big a crime as posting too little. As a victim of brands and influences who constantly bombard me with their content – I can say that it can be overwhelming and invasive.
When we post too often, we deprive them of novelty that comes with consuming content from different creators. Naturally, when your followers realize that their feed is being bombarded by one creator, they’ll remove them to make room for others.
4. Your content is not differentiated.
As human beings, we are wired to seek out novelty. Our brain is designed to flood our neural networks with dopamine, a hormone responsible for giving us the sensation of happiness and satisfaction when we enjoy a snack, get good grades or hear good news.
But, the brain’s dopamine delivery system is severely flawed. As we rely on the same stimulation to provide us with a hit, our neural networks demand more stimulation to get the same amount of dopamine.
That is why we never feel the same satisfaction when eating our twelfth slice of pizza as much as we received while biting into the first one.
Content is no different. We get satisfaction and fulfilment from the content we choose to consume. But when content creators keep creating the same content as everyone else, our thirst for novelty remains unquenched. This is why many people stop following creators. Instead, they look for other creators who can offer something different.
5. Your content is too spammy, too pushy, and too sales oriented.
In other words, your content is self-serving and adds little value to your followers.
Back in the day, commercials came in the way of consuming content on TV. This resulted in Youtube democratizing content and bringing interruption free content to people. When Youtube started spamming people with Ads. They moved over to Netflix.
When creators focus too much on ads and too little on value-added content, followers also exercise their power. They move on to content creators who can balance between self-service and fan-service.
6. You might be losing inauthentic followers.
Not everyone who follows you does so because they love your content. Following other people in hopes of getting a follow back is a common practice. Once their strategy succeeds, these people don’t stick around for long.
Additionally, your account might also consist of spam, bots, and fake accounts. These accounts are periodically purged by Instagram and can result in a sudden drop in followers.
There is no sure-fire way of knowing if you’re losing fake followers. but if you see a sudden drop, especially after an algorithm update, then chances are you’re just seeing Instagram cleaning out the trash.
8. You’re not gaining new followers.
Maintaining your follower count is difficult. You’ll win some of these battles and lose others. It is important to understand that you must always focus on reaching out to new followers as well. Without new followers to replace the ones you lose, your follower count will drop with time.
Instagram insights display daily net gains. Keep track of your followers by checking insights on a weekly basis.
A few parting words
Instagram is changing, so is social media. New algorithm updates are burying organic reach in favor of paid ads. At the same time, competition is looming large for Instagram and its counterparts. For example, video-sharing platform Tiktok has already overtaken Instagram as the most downloaded app. Which will inevitably lead to people spending lesser time on Instagram.
As creators, this could mean challenging times lie ahead. It’s entirely possible, we’ll never get some followers back. Some of us will see engagement and reach drop.
We should be ready for the worse and explore all avenues that connect us to our followers.
Before I finish this article, I will leave you with one last piece of borrowed wisdom:
Accept the things you can’t change, change the things you can, and know the difference between the two.