Why You Are Losing Followers On Instagram And How To Recover

Published on: June 7, 2018

You’ve been cracking away at growing your Instagram following, pouring countless days, weeks and months trying hard to move the needle but instead seeing the counter going up, it goes down?

Or maybe even the counter dropped suddenly?

If you’ve built up a respectable follower count already, you’re most likely aware that people unfollow accounts for a variety of reasons.

If you notice that your follower count is falling, you’ll want to act fast. A falling follower count could affect your engagement which in turn could make it harder to gain followers back. Preventing people from unfollowing you doesn’t have to be difficult, but unless you understand why they are unfollowing you, there isn’t much you can do to stop it.

The first thing you need to do when you notice your follower count falling is to take an honest look at your content and identify the reason people are leaving. We’ve outlined some of the most common reasons people might be unfollowing you. Take a look at some of the common reasons people unfollow accounts on Instagram and see whether or not you think any of these reasons apply to you.

Instagram is axing fake followers

Fake follower networks are getting to be something of a huge issue on Facebook and Instagram. Naturally as these follower networks grow, Instagram will begin to start cracking down on these networks more, and this is usually done in large batches through changes to their algorithm and detection methods. If you noticed you’ve been losing hundreds of followers overnight, very likely that might be Instagram taking on fake follower networks. The moment Instagram’s anti-spam algorithm flags and suspends an Instagram account, it’s deducted from your follower counter as well (just like it never existed). Instagram constantly fights with spam and bot networks and is known for doing a huge purge every couple of months, causing your follower counter dropping suddenly. But cheer up - even though the counter decreasing, you will be getting better engagement rates per follower and your Instagram account stop being a ghost town. Fake followers were never really followers anyways, so keep that in mind and keep making great content for your real followers.

Solution: Keep posting great content and seek to attract real engagement from real users. If your users were false, then you didn’t get much value from them in the first place. Fake users won’t engage with your content, visit your website, or make a purchase. All they were doing was inflating the number of followers that you had. Which is not a value-add beyond what it provides to your ego.

You’re not promoting enough

There is a lot of content being posted to Instagram every day. To stay relevant you need to be posting, and posting often. If you aren’t posting often people may not be able to engage with your posts when you do post. Keeping a consistent posting schedule will help people recognise your content better and allow them to participate easier if they like the content you post. You want to make sure that you are giving followers enough of what they want. Otherwise, when you do post, you won’t see much engagement, and they might even decide that they’ve had enough of what you have had to show in their feed and choose to unfollow you.

Make the most of Instagram, and post often enough to make it worthwhile for your followers to follow your account.

Solution: Posting about five times a week is a good amount to aim for. If you are posting less than that, your content will seem sporadic, and it will be hard for you to connect with your followers. Posting often enough will also be something that you want to test and change depending on the engagement that you get on your posts. If you notice that posting more during the week results in less involvement you might try varying how you post. Promoting enough for your audience is something that only you will understand, and you can realise through trial and error.

Your content is low quality

If you don’t have an excellent camera for taking pictures, you might be uploading low-resolution photos. If this is the case, you might want to invest in a better camera. Because Instagram is primarily a visual platform, your images are more important than any other type of content you could post. It’s in your best interest to make sure the pictures look good. With everyone on the platform taking at least medium quality photos, your low-resolution images may be the reason people are deciding to jump ship. After all, on a platform that includes everything from world-class photographers, media companies, and even regular folks with amazing photos taken from the new powerful smartphone cameras available. Why would someone want to follow an account that takes pictures that look like they are ten years old? Unless you are doing so ironically, make sure your photos are not low resolution.

If it’s not the quality of the photos themselves, it may be the content of the images themselves. Are you posting content that is unique or that serves a purpose in your given niche? Or are you just posting generic image macros that you found somewhere else? If your content is not unique and doesn’t represent the value that your subscribers originally signed up for you might see them decide to unfollow you.

Solution: Make sure your content is high quality in both image and content. Don’t post low-resolution photos to an image sharing platform like Instagram, and don’t just re-post content that you found from somewhere else online. Also, take care to make sure that your posts don’t become formulaic and boring.

You’re promoting yourself too hard

If you’re posting five times a day and your content is all about you. You might be posting too much. If your content feels too much like self-promotion people might be put off. How much after all, do you like it when brands post about deals they’re offering or products that they sell? Sure we like posts like that since we follow brands that post those things, but we don’t want them in our face multiple times a day from the same brand. After a while, self-promotion can be tiresome, and your followers might decide to unfollow you if all you’ve done is post about yourself multiple times a day for the last month.

People have more choice than ever of who they follow on Instagram, and that makes it easy for them to unfollow people who are only interested in self-promotion. Even people who are only interested in themselves make time to post about products and other types of things on Instagram. You can make an effort as well. Post about more than just you.

Solution: Vary your content up and post about things that are relevant to your niche. If you make a point to post about topics that are trending in your niche but don’t necessarily involve your brand you may find that you’ll get more engagement than when you post about yourself.

You’re posting outside of your theme

If you’re posting outside of the subject that you or your brand are known for you might find that people who followed you for the content in that niche will unfollow you. This might be ok if you only lose a few every once in a while, but if you start noticing a large group of followers jumping ship, you might want to be sure you aren’t straying from the path you laid down when you initially started your account.

Instagram has a wide variety of different subjects, and many people only like to follow people who are posting about specific topics. You might find that people are more dedicated to just seeing what interests them than you might initially have thought.

Solution: Evaluate your content and make sure that you aren’t posting entirely outside of your theme. A post here and there may be fine, but you certainly don’t want it to have a significant effect on your follower count. If you still want to create the new content, evaluate whether or not you wish to change niches, or whether you need to start another account for the new content you want to post.

You purchased your followers

Besides the fact that purchased followers won’t drive you any engagement, clicks or sales, there is one more issue: sooner or later, they will be gone. How? Either the service you bought followers from started unfollowing you (all at once or gradually) or Twitter already figured out what’s going on and started axing your fake following.

Solution: stay away from this method. Purchasing followers might sound like a great way to boost your social proof in a short run but even for that it’s pretty easy for one to figure out your followers are not genuine.


Instagram has grown an enormous amount over the last few years, and this has meant that people are presented with a vast amount of choice with regards to who they choose to follow on the platform. With that added choice comes more competition, and more noise on the platform that users will have to sort through to find the content that they like. If they aren’t getting what they want from you, they can get it somewhere else. If you notice that your follower count is dropping on Instagram, you’ll want to do something about it sooner rather than later.

Losing the followers that you worked hard to acquire is not something anyone who runs an account on Instagram wants to see. There are a variety of ways to lose followers, but the good news is that almost always, you can identify what it is that you are doing to lose followers, and make the changes necessary to stop the flow of people out of your account.

No matter what is going on with your account, you should always be thinking of ways to maximise the value you are giving to your followers. If you notice a drop in followers, it may be the perfect opportunity for you to re-evaluate your content strategy on the platform. Who knows, you might even gain them back after making the changes.