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STOP! Don’t do it!
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Why is my Instagram following not growing?

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Table of contents

If you've been asking yourself that question too much of late, it's time to sit back and review your Instagram profile. Have you changed your strategy recently? Are you giving your followers what they are expecting of you? Are you targeting the right audience?

Let's look through what could be going wrong.

1. Are you connecting with your target group?

We tend to think that social media success is linked only to numbers. Truth is, numbers don't help your business unless your audience is engaging with you.

If you've been thinking about bot services, stop right there. Aside from the fact that Instagram has been shutting them down, they don't contribute to any genuine growth. Bots leave comments on photos that are either insincere or far removed from the photo subject.

A friend once posted about the passing of her cat who'd been in the family for 6 years, and sure enough, a bot-managed account commented with 'Great!' followed by a grinning emoji.

You don't want to go down that road. It's also not going to get you any authentic followers.

It's the same thing if you are using hashtags like #followforfollow, #likesforlikes, #tagsforfollow, etc. Your numbers may shoot up for a day or two, but you won't generate any real engagement. Your likes and follows will be from people who only want blind likes and follows back and are not really interested in your content.

While it may be tempting to keep up the numbers game, ask yourself if this is going to help you with your business in any way. Fake followers are neither going to buy from you, nor be involved enough to spread the word about your store.

This is why it's essential to connect with the right audience. I never bother responding to or checking out the profiles of people who leave monosyllabic generic comments and single emojis on my Instagram posts. It's not that hard to figure the real from the fake.

What are you selling? Who are you selling to?

If you are selling bicycle gear, you should be targeting professional cyclists and hobby cyclists.

If you're selling baby products, look for the mom bloggers and new moms.

Look for your target audience. The best way to do this is through hashtags.

Cyclists and moms will be using hashtags that let you know that they are cyclists and moms. Instagram has launched an upgrade that allows users to follow hashtags. This is super efficient in letting you reach out to a targeted audience.

Instagram success is about community-building. When you come across profiles of potential buyers, start interacting. Leave likes and meaningful comments that make them look up and take notice. Sure it'll require some effort on your part, but you'll be getting followers who won't unfollow you after two weeks, and will in all likelihood, make purchases from your store.

Quick tip:

To find the right hashtags, you can use OrangeTwig's hashtag research tool from the InstaSuccess Toolkit.When you search for a certain hashtag, you will get to see all the recent posts that have been published with the hashtag, all related hashtags, as well as trending hashtags similar to the searched hashtag. This makes the whole process of finding your audience quick and easy.

2. Are you curating right?

Do you have the kind of profile that would make a layman stop by your profile even if they have no idea what you're selling? Instagram is built on aesthetics and the first impression makes an immediate impact.There are three things you need, to organize and maintain an attractive profile:

  1. Photographs: Good quality photographs. While it's tempting to put up a photo of that adorable puppy you saw on the road, if it's blurry, the cuteness factor wouldn't weigh it. It may be hard to put aside photographs that are high on quality but hold personal value for you, but they really won't add anything to your Instagram value. People are on Instagram for the photos. This is that one place where everything is based on images. Your feed needs relevant, high quality images if you're looking to reach out to users beyond your family and close friends.
  2. Captions: Yes, it's about the pictures, but you've got to give your followers a background to the pictures. People like a good story. If they relate to your story, they are more likely to respond to it. Make your captions meaningful, so people get something out of them. Good captions are directly responsible for audience engagement. End your captions with a CTA (call-to-action), so that you can get your audience to interact with you. There's so much you can do with captions.
  3. Theme: While this isn't mandatory, a curated visual theme is instantly striking. When someone visits your Instagram, they see your feed overall. If you follow a theme, you'll definitely be grabbing eyeballs at first sight.

The reason your follower count has stopped growing may be because you have stopped curating your feed.

Perhaps initially you were taking perfectly curated photographs and now since you've garnered a mini fan club of your own, you've thought that anything works?

Instagram followers can see when you're not making the effort. If you don't go that extra mile for them, they will be clicking on the 'unfollow' button pretty quick.

unfollowing on Instagram

Quick tip:

You can learn how to build a visual theme for your Instagram business profile here.You can also learn how to organically build your Instagram engagement here.

3. Are you humanizing your brand?

Curating your Instagram profile doesn't mean faking it.

The reason storytelling through captions is a hit with people is because it gives them a taste of the person behind the photo. While it's true that your profile should be curated, it doesn't mean that it has to be only business-related. Yes, showcase your products, be professional and polished when sharing content, but don't mechanize it.

Online business is built on trust. People want to know who they are buying from before they choose to invest.

Once in a while, give them a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what goes on behind the making of a product. Showcase a work-in-progress. Share your workspace photos. Maybe a break day with your family. Don't go overboard with the personal photos, but ensure they are there to give your brand a face behind the name.

I love Etsian Jesiii's Instagram profile. It's vibrant, has the best photographs and she doesn't shy away from sharing photos of herself, her partner, her pet, etc, while still somehow connecting it all to her work.

Instagram screenshot jesiiii

Your profile shouldn't look like a product catalog. That turns off even genuinely interested followers. Big brands can get away with that since they are already big brands. Small business popularity is dependent on that personal touch.

When you post only product-related content, your feed looks spammy and sends out the message that you are only chasing numbers and don't really care about the interests of your fans.

Show your followers the real side of you through good photographs and compelling captions. Make your brand relatable.

Quick tip:

Adding variety to your business page postings is one of the best ways to market successfully on social media. Learn about the 80:20 rule of social media marketing here.

4. Are you consistent?

If you follow an Influencer account on Instagram, you're likely to have noticed that they have a posting routine. There's a specific time of the day that they post at and a specific frequency they maintain. This works for them because their followers have by now figured out when to expect an update from them.

Plus, Instagram's algorithm favors those who are consistent with their posting frequency.

From my personal experience, I'd say posting once a day or once in two days is the best way to engage on Instagram. Anything less or more and you'd be teetering on unstable ground.

That being said, what works for each user will vary. If you cater to a very active demographic, even twice a day would be an option for you. You will understand what posting frequency works for you based on the number of likes, follows/unfollows you get around each posting.

Your postings shouldn't be that frequent that your audience gets saturated, and neither should they be that infrequent that your followers forget about you.

Consistency doesn't come into consideration only where posting frequency is concerned. Have you changed your posting content? Were you posting paintings and now you're posting clothes? If you're posting content-subject is not consistent, your followers will fall off.

It's not unusual to focus on multiple subjects, but you should make that clear on your profile. Let your bio tell visitors what to expect from your profile. If you suddenly change your content on whim, your fans will feel deceived.

Quick tip:

The most effective way to keep your posting frequency consistent is by scheduling your posts. You can do this through OrangeTwig's InstaSuccess Toolkit. It lets you schedule all your posts with the correct hashtags, make your feed shoppable through a middle page, regram/like/comment in one click and much more.


The average Instagram account gets an unfollow with every post published. That shouldn't set your alarm bells ringing. But if you suddenly see a hike in the number of unfollows, you've got to ask yourself a few questions.

There are no hard and fast rules for social media success but there definitely are a few tried and tested methods that have worked and those that haven't. Once you get a hang of whom you're targeting, it's about keeping your target group's interests alive.

  • Connect with your target audience
  • Curate your feed with attractive images and variety
  • Humanize your brand
  • Stay consistent with your postings

You got this.

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