Getting anywhere on Instagram can be a painfully slow process. At times, it can seem like your follower count has stalled and you’ve reached a plateau.
More often than not, this sluggish growth is the result of how you approach Instagram. You might be doing something that discourages new followers.
If that’s the case, then don’t worry. Navigating the realm of social media is a trial-and-error process for many of us. You always have the power to turn it around.
To help you gain new followers, here are 10 reasons why your Instagram might not be growing:
1. You aren’t posting at the right frequency.
Some people post too little, which means they are rarely seen or remembered by others. Conversely, some people post too much, which can quickly become annoying and overwhelming. Both mistakes can dissuade people from following you. It might even lose you some of the followers you already have. Finding a sensible balance between the two can be a tricky process.
You can use our platform, Owlmetrics, to see what times you receive the most engagement.
At the very least, you should be posting every day. Ideally you should post two or three times a day. However, you should also spread them out a bit. You should rarely, if ever, dump multiple posts all at once.
You don’t want your followers to get tired of you. They should eagerly await each new post with anticipation.
Pay attention to how many followers you gain and lose with each post. You know you’ve found a good frequency when your follower count grows more than it shrinks.
Finally, establish a regular schedule. Try to post at the same hours every day. This can the times when your followers seem the most active, or the ones that seem to generate the most engagement for you.
2. You’re not socializing enough.
Instagram is a social network. If you’re posting pictures and never talking to anybody, then you’re only doing half the work. Socialization is essential to gaining any traction on the website.
Make comments on other people’s posts. Respond to comments on your own content. Be thoughtful and eloquent whenever you interact with others.
Some people think that they can coast on making vague single word comments like “Cool!” or “Nice!” If that’s the extent of your communication skills, then some people might mistake you for a bot.
Make an honest attempt to connect with other people. Don’t just treat them as stepping stones on your way towards Instagram growth. These bonds are important, and they will elevate you above all of the other brands on the platform.
3. You might be shadowbanned.
What does it mean to be shadowbanned?
It’s when you are made invisible to the community around you. None of your posts will appear in other people’s feeds, and none of your images will show up in any hashtag searches.
A shadowban is different from a regular ban, in that you might never realize you’ve been banned unless somebody else confirms it for you. It’s often done without alerting the offending account.
So, is there a way to reverse a shadowban? Yes, there are a few.
First, don’t use any software that automates your Instagram activity. This means anything that utilizes bots to like, comment, or follow for you. While convenient, they violate the Terms of Service that you agreed to when you made your Instagram account.
Secondly, make sure that you aren’t using any banned hashtags. Hashtags often get abused by Instagram users that flood them with inappropriate content. As a response, Instagram shadowbans anybody that continues to use it. This can unfortunately include accounts that didn’t do anything wrong.
If neither of these methods work, then take some time off of Instagram. Usually a shadowban will get lifted after a couple days.
4. You’re making a bad first impression.
Much like real life, making a good first impression is crucial on Instagram.
A user typically decides whether or not they want to follow your account within a few moments of viewing your profile. If they see something they don’t like, then they’re going to move on pretty quickly. They don’t have any obligation to stick around and give you a second chance.
Think about the first things that person sees when they visit your page: your name, profile picture, and bio description. All of these elements are right at the top of the page. If there’s something off about any of them, a viewer will notice it right away.
Your name should be unique and identifiable. The viewer should be absolutely certain they are looking at the correct account for your brand.
Next, your profile picture should be clear and appealing. Profile pictures are circular, so keep that limitation in mind. It should be something simple that looks good at any size.
Lastly, your bio should be well-written, informative, and intriguing. Don’t settle for a dull, boring description. It should draw their attention and make them want to learn more.
5. You’re not putting effort into your captions.
Some accounts treat their captions as an afterthought. Their rationale is that the picture is the main attraction of a post anyway. This is only partially true, and it’s a poor excuse to neglect your captions. A fitting one might be enough to push it over the edge and win you some new followers.
A caption should either entertain or provide contextual information. Preferably it should do both. Sometimes this involves telling an inspiring story, or making a funny joke. The goal is to engage the viewer on a deeper level.
You can also use it as an opportunity to ask your followers a question, or motivate them with a call to action. Whatever it is, it should add to their appreciation of the content. If a caption resonates in the right way, it could bring them back for more.
6. You don’t seem authentic.
Authenticity is a virtue on any social network. In an era where the internet is filled with so many fake and misleading things, people cling onto what seems real and genuine. This is why influencers are so popular these days. Many of them are just everyday people.
Take a step back and assess the areas where you might seem phony.
Are your photos overly processed and artificial-looking? Do your captions sound robotic and lifeless, or too much like a marketing pitch? Is a majority of your following made up of bot accounts that you’ve paid for?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then it might be time to make some changes. Striving for authenticity will help you appear more trustable to any potential followers.
Also, don’t be afraid to be candid. Use behind-the-scenes photos and videos to show viewers the reality of your business. Prove to them that your brand is made up of actual human beings with names and faces.
7. You’re misusing hashtags.
If you aren’t using hashtags at all, then that might be a major reason why your Instagram account isn’t growing. Hashtags are a necessary part of getting noticed on the platform. If you aren’t using them, then your content will never appear on any search results.
That doesn’t mean you should load up your captions with as many hashtags as possible, though. You need to use them in a strategic way.
Don’t use any hashtags that aren’t relevant to your content. People will skip over your posts if they aren’t relevant to what they searched for. You might even get reported for spam if you do this.
Furthermore, exercise some restraint with how many hashtags that you include. Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags in a single post, but you shouldn’t ever attempt to cram in that many. It will quickly turn your captions into a crowded, unreadable mess. Try to limit yourself to about a dozen at most.
8. Your content quality isn’t up to snuff.
Not everything makes for compelling Instagram content. So don’t just post anything that happens to be in your phone’s camera roll. It’s a matter of quality over quantity.
Is it a video or photo that’s not in high-definition? Pitch it. Is it blurry or not very well composed? Throw it away. Is it just not visually attractive and can’t be salvaged with some editing? Chuck it in the trash.
There are millions of amazing, breathtaking images being posted on Instagram all of the time. If your posts doesn’t catch anybody’s eyes, then it will get ignored for the ones that do. It’s harsh, but it’s true.
Hold yourself to a higher standard. Strive to produce the best content you can. Invest in better equipment, and reach out to professionals who can assist you in improving your visual style.
9. You’re inconsistent and all over the place.
Instagram isn’t just about the value of each individual post. You need to be conscious of the overall appearance of your feed.
Be aware of how each post flows into the next. If your feed seems to jump around too much, without any sense of coherence, then it might turn away viewers. Too much inconsistency might give them whiplash while browsing.
Unify your content with visual themes. Use similar color schemes, or stick to certain subject matter across your posts. Consider how each post compliments the ones before and after it. Any shifts should be organic and gradual.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever change things up, or surprise your viewers. Doing that every once in awhile has its own merits. Sometimes you need to make things fresh and interesting for your audience.
But when every post is drastically different than the last, then it becomes a problem. Many users follow accounts because they know what to expect from them. For instance, if a swimwear account usually posts beach imagery with pleasing pastel colors, then that’s what their followers probably want to see.
10. You promote too much.
Nobody goes out of their way to consume marketing. In fact, most internet users try to avoid it like the plague. That’s why ad blocking extensions are becoming more and more popular.
If you try too hard to market on Instagram, you will likely be rejected by its communities. You’ll always been seen as an intrusive element that interrupts their content browsing. That’s why it’s better to fit in than stand out.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with using Instagram as an avenue to drive sales. That’s what attracts many brands to the platform in the first place. Nevertheless, a subtle strategy is preferable here.
Be less aggressive with your promotional voice. Don’t just tell people to visit your store and purchase your stuff. Your posts should have substance outside of its advertising potential. As I’ve stated previously, your goal should be to engage and resonate with your audience.
Let’s say that you sell athletic shoes. Instead of demanding viewers to “buy a pair here now!”, try to tell them about the shoes. Describe to them how they feel, or a scenario where the shoes might come in handy. Make an appeal to their imaginations and emotions.