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Losing Instagram Followers: Everything You Need to Know

Published July 27, 2023

Have you opened Instagram lately and noticed that your follower count is dwindling? Seeing that must have been discouraging, especially if you’ve been working hard to make compelling content for your audience. 

Despite the decreasing numbers, you shouldn’t panic. A drop in your follower count can occur due to various reasons, and each potential issue has a solution you can try. 

We’ll list the most common of these problems below and offer you expert tips on how to rectify the situation. Read on!

1. You Have Been Shadowbanned

Like all other social media platforms, Instagram has strict community guidelines when it comes to inappropriate content. The rules explicitly state that any posts that incite violence or include nudity, bullying, and harassment will be removed immediately. 

In addition, the app also has the right to take down posts that deviate from those guidelines. Examples usually include sales pics promoting firearms, alcohol, and non-medical or pharmaceutical drugs. 

So, if you share such content, Instagram will remove it. The platform could also potentially suspend your account, depending on the severity of the transgression. But in most cases, only the post is deleted, and you can go back to posting as usual. 

However, Instagram seldom leaves it at that. In most cases, the app also places a shadowban on the account that violated the guidelines. When you are shadowbanned, your posts cannot appear in searches, on the Explore page, or on corresponding pages for hashtags and locations. 

An easy way to perform a shadowban test is to examine your engagement rates. For example, if your posts have suddenly started receiving fewer likes and comments, you can assume that a shadowban is in place. 

Another indicator is your follower count. If you notice a sudden decline for no apparent reason, it could be because users simply cannot see your content anymore. That might prompt them to remove you from their following lists. 

In case you think you have been shadowbanned, the best course of action is to be patient. Instagram will remove the ban in a few weeks, after which you will be able to reach your audience once more. In addition, it is essential to respect the community guidelines in every subsequent post you upload to the platform. 

2. You Have Bought Followers in the Past

Gaining followers organically — through engaging content and a clear marketing plan — can take a long time. To bypass this waiting period, many people purchase followers online instead

Although this move can make your account appear more successful than it actually is, it has one major flaw. Namely, the vast majority of online platforms sell inactive followers or bots. Instagram easily detects these types of accounts and frequently removes them from the platform. 

So, if your following consists of many accounts that are spammers, bots, or inactive, the app will remove them sooner or later. As a result, your follower tally will decrease dramatically. 

This particular issue has two possible fixes. One is to focus on attracting new fans organically, while the other is to buy authentic followers from a trusted and reliable source. Besides protecting you from sudden dips in your following count, these strategies will also ensure your engagement rates increase. 

3. You Have Changed Your Niche

When they hit that follow button on your profile, people do it because they like your content and want to see more of it. In most cases, they either love the topics you post about or find your images and videos aesthetically pleasing.  

Thus, it comes as no surprise that users lose a significant number of followers when they change their niche or the type of content they share. For example, if you’re a video game streamer, your followers will be confused if you suddenly start posting exclusively about makeup or doing brand reviews. 

This isn’t to say that you should never branch out and explore new interests. However, it’s important to introduce changes strategically instead of all at once. In other words, try to keep your followers in the loop and notify them about your plans. 

That way, they won’t find the change jarring and might actually give it a shot. Even more importantly, they won’t unfollow you right away, which will keep your follower count more or less unchanged. 

4. Your Posting Schedule Is Inconsistent

Coming up with a posting schedule is an essential step toward gaining and keeping followers. By analyzing your target audience, you can determine optimal posting times and reach them more efficiently every day. 

But if you don’t pay too much heed to when you post, your content might never reach your audience. If they constantly keep missing your posts, they might just unfollow you and look for other creators. 

Another common scheduling problem is either posting too little or too much. If you only post once a week, Instagram’s algorithm usually won’t prioritize your content and show it to the right audience. On the other hand, posting too frequently can lead to suspensions, as the platform does its best to combat spamming. 

In both instances, you could end up with fewer followers. And in the latter case, you could even lose your account entirely. Thus, it is pivotal to make a content schedule and stick to it.

5. You Use Automation Tools for Interactions

Last but not least, you can also lose followers if you use automatic interaction tools. As their name suggests, these tools perform various tasks automatically, one of them being replying to comments and messages that you receive. 

While these tools can come in handy when you’re overwhelmed and help you save time and energy, they can also be detrimental to your reputation. Namely, most people react better to a unique and personalized response and find automated messages cold and disappointing. As a result, they might choose to unfollow you because they want to interact with a real person instead of a reply bot. 

So, the key is to identify situations where automated and personalized responses are preferable, respectively. For example, automated comments are passable in case you’re telling your followers to direct all their inquiries to your inbox

However, it’s best to take the time to reply to each individual DM yourself. That way, you will be able to cultivate a genuine relationship with your followers. If you manage to do so, keeping your follower count intact will be much easier. 

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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