1. Post at the Optimal Frequency

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Losing followers on Instagram is a rite of passage for any creator or business. But significant unfollows can feel disheartening, especially if you‘ve invested time cultivating your community.

The good news? With some thoughtful tweaks to your approach, you can stem the tide of unfollows and keep your audience engaged for the long haul.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share seven proven techniques to stop people from unfollowing you on Instagram, backed by the latest industry research and hard-won experience from my decade as a social media manager and influencer.

These are the exact same methods I use with my own 100k+ followers to maintain strong growth and engagement month after month. So whether you‘re just starting out or looking to step up your Instagram game to the next level, you‘ll discover actionable tips to implement right away.

I know you want to keep your hard-earned followers, so let‘s dive in!

Finding your ideal posting cadence is one of the most important factors in keeping your followers happy and engaged. Post too often, and you risk overwhelming people‘s feeds and annoying your audience. Post too rarely, and followers may assume you‘ve abandoned Instagram and unfollow you.

So what‘s the sweet spot? According to my own data as well as Instagram‘s best practices, the magic number tends to be 1-2 times per day. This provides fresh, snackable content for your followers without oversaturating their feeds.

Here are some quick tips to find your optimal frequency:

  • Start by posting once daily and assess engagement. If likes and comments remain consistently strong, try increasing to 2x daily.

  • Avoid "spam sessions" where you publish multiple posts back-to-back. Instead, space out posts over the course of the day.

  • Use Instagram Stories in between feed posts. This allows you to stay active and engaged without flooding feeds.

  • Analyze your posting history and engagement metrics to identify any patterns. What times and frequencies tend to perform best?

  • Ask your followers! Run a poll or questionnaire to get input on their preferences.

As you experiment, you‘ll discover the sweet spot that satisfies your audience while achieving your growth goals. For most accounts, 1-2 posts per day hits the right balance.

Engagement is the lifeblood of Instagram. By regularly interacting with your followers and community, you build rapport and show you care. This fosters loyalty and gives people a reason to stick around.

Set aside 15-30 minutes each day to browse your feed and engage in a genuine, thoughtful way. Here are some tips:

  • Like posts from your followers, especially loyal mutuals. The little heart goes a long way!

  • Leave value-adding comments – ask thoughtful questions, offer compliments, continue the conversation. Avoid one-word platitudes.

  • Respond to comments and DMs. This makes followers feel seen and deepens your bond.

  • Check in on old posts. Show some love on your archival content, not just the latest posts.

  • Follow back mutual followers you know in real life. This maintains your followers/following ratio.

  • Avoid mass following/commenting. Focus on quality over quantity in your interactions.

Thoughtful engagement shows your followers you value them as more than just a number. By cultivating this loyal community, you‘ll retain followers for the long term.

In the competitive world of Instagram, high-quality photos and videos will always beat filter-bombed snapshots when it comes to engagement. Invest time improving your visual chops, and followers will more eagerly await your latest post.

Based on my conversations with top photographers and influencers, here are some tips for upping your photo game:

  • Learn basic photography skills – composition, lighting, color theory, editing. Online courses are a great starting point.

  • Plan quality shoots – scout aesthetically pleasing locations, time for ideal lighting conditions, curate props and styling.

  • Focus on details – backgrounds, color palettes, stylized editing all contribute to a polished aesthetic.

  • Analyze your top-performing content – what visual elements made these photos stand out?

  • Consider investing in gear like higher quality cameras and lenses once you‘re ready to level up.

  • Hire a photographer for next-level shots if budget allows. Even occasionally.

Remember – every post is an opportunity to grab your audience‘s attention for 3 seconds as they scroll. Compelling photography gives you an edge to turn them into active engagers.

Having an intentional follow/unfollow strategy will help you attract and retain engaged followers in your niche. Here are a few best practices:

  • Follow back mutual followers – especially people you know IRL. This maintains your ratio.

  • Target your niche hashtags to find ideal followers. Engage before following.

  • Follow engaged commenters who show interest in your content.

  • Avoid mass-following tools – these followers won‘t convert. Go manual.

  • Unfollow ghost followers who never engage after a few weeks.

  • Schedule regular "follow sessions" to stay on top of new mutuals and potential brand advocates.

The key is building genuine relationships with those who love your content, not just racking up random followers. This fosters an invested community less likely to unfollow you later.

While you don‘t want to overpost, going too long between posts can also cause followers to lose interest and move on. Use these tips to strike the right balance:

  • Post consistently, even if just once per week. This shows you‘re still active.

  • Utilize Stories in between feed posts to share quick life updates.

  • Post non-photographic content like Reels and live streams to change things up.

  • Engage with followers through comments and messages.

  • Check-in on previous posts with comments and captions.

Maintaining an active presence – both through your own content and interactions – is key. You want to spark joy when followers see your posts pop up, not make them wonder if you‘ve left Instagram.

Your niche, content style and visual aesthetic make up your brand. When you stray too far outside what followers expect from you, it can cause confusion and unfollows.

For example:

  • The travel blogger who suddenly pivots to endless selfies.

  • The fitness influencer who trades gym shots for food pics overnight.

  • The pastel pink theme page that introduces harsh black and white posts.

No one expects you to be one-dimensional. But evolving your brand should happen gradually and intentionally, not sporadically.

Analyze what your followers respond to best, and shape your content strategy around this niche. Consistency fosters loyalty and conditions followers to get excited for your latest post.

Attracting an engaged audience all comes down to really understanding your niche. Avoid wasting time on followers who will never convert into loyal community members.

Here are a few ways to home in on your ideal audience:

  • Identify relevant hashtags and features to get on the radar of your core demographic.

  • Engage thoughtfully with accounts who are potential brand advocates.

  • Collaborate with influencers who can organically introduce you to their engaged followers.

  • Interact genuinely before following – avoid follow/unfollow tactics.

  • Analyze your existing followers – what types of accounts are most active and loyal? Find more of those.

Targeting your niche not only prevents future unfollows, but can also score you high-quality collaborations and opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Unfollows will happen on any Instagram account. But you‘re now equipped with seven research-backed tactics to minimize lost followers and keep your community thriving for the long haul.

The key takeaways include:

  • Post consistently at 1-2x daily without overposting

  • Engage thoughtfully with your followers

  • Create high-quality, visually appealing content

  • Implement an intentional follow/unfollow strategy

  • Maintain an active presence on both feed and Stories

  • Stick to a consistent brand and aesthetic

  • Identify and target your niche audience

What other tips do you have for reducing unfollows? What‘s been most effective for your brand? Let me know in the comments!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.