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Instagram Issue: Fluctuating Followers

Posted in: Instagram

It’s happened to everyone. You share a photo to your business account and suddenly you notice a swell of new followers. But, wait. Are those followers actually your ideal customer, or, even more concerning, are they even real people?


Chances are that this influx of new followers are not actually your ideal customers. Even worse, these followers will often unfollow your account almost immediately, causing your follower count to fluctuate significantly. Here are two reasons why your follower count is most likely fluctuating, and how you can fix it.


#1 Bots

Believe it or not, there are people who spend all day following other Instagram accounts. Most commonly called spambots, these “fake” accounts are created in the black market to interact with other Instagram users. One group of researchers found that there could be as many as 24 million Instagram accounts that are functioning as spambots!


While Instagram has implemented new rules to try and weed out these annoying accounts, you might still see these scammers commenting, liking, or even following your account. Most commonly they leave generic comments like “cool” or “awesome shot.”


Their hope is to get the attention of other Instagram users to increase their following. Often, they’ll also like your account only to unfollow you within a few hours when you don’t follow them back. But how are these bots finding you? It’s probably your hashtags.


#2 Wrong/ Common Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the best ways to ensure that you get maximum eyeballs on your content and attract your ideal follower. As studies have shown, businesses that use hashtags in for their Instagram content are more likely to see increased interactions, for accounts with less than 1,000 followers received an average of 77.66 interactions.


But using the wrong and/or common hashtags can often make even your best Instagram strategies backfire. Generic hashtags such as “#PicOfTheDay” or “#InstaAwesome” might put you in a larger hashtag hub, but they do little to help you stand out from your competition and demonstrate why your business is unique. Remember, if a hashtag doesn’t align with your business or brand, don’t use it. If you’re stuck on which hashtags you should use for your business here are a few other suggestions:


Product hashtags

They’re not just a way to curate your content. When used correctly, hashtags can also help to evoke a strong emotional response from your followers. Nowhere is this truer then in your use of strategic product hashtags. These hashtags allow you to bridge the important connection between your followers and the products they want to shop for.


For example, if you own a specialty cupcake shop, you want to ensure that your creations are attracting the attention of other talented bakers and potential customers. Using hashtags like #sweettreat or #fromscratch allow you to be part of a hub, without being bogged down in the more general (and unrelated) Instagram content.


Event hashtags

No matter the size of your event, a related hashtag can help you to generate buzz before, during, and even after kickoff. I love using unique hashtags for my various workshops, retreats, and other yearly events to create a sense of community among my attendees.


As you’ll find if you search my hashtag, #suebschool retreat, this hashtag hub is my go-to place to curate fun, upbeat event-related content. Even more importantly, I encourage all of my event attendees to share the hashtag too, which helps extend the marketing for my event with new user-generated content.


Geo-targeted hashtags

You know that you can add locations to your Instagram post, but are you fully leveraging your location with your hashtags too? If you are a local business or hosting an in-person event, these location-specific hashtags will allow you to get your content front and center of your ideal audience – your community!


Even better, especially in larger cities, there are often already popular location hashtags that you can tap into so you can become part of the conversation.




It’s still about quality, not quantity


Ultimately, you need to be sure that you are setting aside time to focus on your most active and engaged followers. While it’s a great feeling to see your number of followers increase, it’s still important to remember that the value of your Instagram business account is measured by the types of interactions you have. Stronger, long-term relationships with your ideal followers will ultimately be what you need to grow and enrich your business.