You know the power Instagram holds when marketing a business. You’ve read best practices for sharing content to the app, but there’s a problem: follower growth and engagement begins to plateau. The techniques you’ve used to get to this point seem to be losing effectiveness.
If you’re in that situation, chances are, you’re dealing with an Instagram plateau. This guide shares how to break out of a plateau, with tips on how to rebuild the relationship with your followers.
Why have I hit an Instagram plateau?
An Instagram plateau happens when your account stays stagnant — both in terms of follower growth and audience engagement. Not only will new Instagram followers be few and far between, but the people who’ve hit the follow button won’t like, comment, or share your content.
This can be problematic for several reasons. First, Instagram can’t be a revenue generator for your business if people aren’t taking notice of your content. Plus, an Instagram plateau is a huge timesuck. You’ll spend valuable time — often, something social media marketers can’t afford to spare — by posting content that doesn’t make money.
To repair a stagnant profile, we first need to diagnose the problem. Here are three reasons why a plateau could be plaguing your business’s Instagram account.
Your content isn’t exciting
Think about the last time you engaged with an Instagram post. Chances are, it wasn’t a random act. Content that is eye-catching, entertaining, or educational demands our attention. It’s only then do you consider engaging with the post. Followers of your business’s Instagram profile are doing the same thing.
This has a domino effect on your content’s reach and ability to appear on the Explore page. In an article that breaks down how the algorithm works, Instagram admits it uses information about a post when determining where it should appear in a user’s feed:
- “These are signals both about how popular a post is – think how many people have liked it – and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it. […] We consider popularity to help find compelling content from a wide array of people and give everyone a chance to find their audience.”
Read more: How to Outsmart the Instagram Algorithm
The audience is exhausted
Many social media marketers repurpose content from other platforms to save time and maximize a single piece of content’s mileage. However, this can cause Instagram accounts to plateau. Followers grow bored of seeing the same content repeated in their feeds, and therefore, are more likely to hit the unfollow button.
Inconsistent posting schedule
Three posts one day… and radio silence for the following week. An Instagram account can quickly plateau if its followers aren’t sure what to expect from the account.
That, plus the fact new followers often scan an account’s most recent posts when deciding whether to reward the business with a follow. If they see the last post was shared two weeks ago, they’re unlikely to hit follow — therefore, stunting follower growth.
8 ways to repair a plateauing Instagram account
No marketer wants to contend with Instagram stagnation, but luckily, there are some ways to overcome a plateauing follower count and engagement rate.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to repairing an Instagram business account that’s plateaued.
- Refresh your profile.
- Find new hashtags.
- Diversify your content strategy.
- Evaluate Instagram Insights.
- Host a giveaway.
- Partner with other accounts.
- Use a scheduling tool.
- Engage followers with automation.
1. Refresh your profile
First impressions matter on Instagram. Increasing your reach and driving visitors to your business’s profile is a hard enough task, but failing to make them follow the account in the first place is like falling at the last hurdle.
Give everyone who visits your profile for the first time a reason to follow you — not just based on the content itself, but the trust your profile instills. This can be done through optimizing your:
- Profile picture: Your account’s profile photo is prime real estate. It appears on your main profile, above organic posts, and in the top of a user’s feed when you post a new Story. This is typically your business’s logo, though it could be a selfie if you’re building a personal brand.
- Instagram bio: Tell people what to expect from your Instagram content through your bio. Similarly, pay attention to the links you’re using. Most often, this link goes directly to your website, though you can use tools like Later or Linktree to point followers in more than one direction.
- Business category: Instagram allows those with a business account to specify which category they fall into. These include Personal Blog, Musician/Band, Shopping and Retail, and Product/Service.
Need inspiration? Take it from Mindvalley, whose Instagram profile instills trust in new followers. Visitors to the profile immediately see consistent branding across the profile photo and highlight covers. The “Education” business category and short, simple bio prove that Mindvalley knows what they’re talking about — and are worthy of following.
2. Find new hashtags
Hashtags have the potential to drive a steady stream of new followers towards your Instagram account. By tagging your content with a popular hashtag, you’ll appear in the search results and main feed of users who follow the hashtag, but not your business’s account.
Yet the hashtags you’ve been using to grow your profile might become stagnant, especially if you’re using the same ones in every post. The audience becomes exhausted with seeing the same, repetitive content. Solve that problem by diversifying your hashtag strategy.
First, evaluate your existing hashtags to see which you should keep. Instagram Insights shows hashtag performance for each post. Ditch any that don’t drive reach or engagement. Next, prepare a list of new hashtags to experiment with and break out of your Instagram plateau.
Discover new Instagram hashtags through:
- Customer research. Ask your customers — specifically those who discovered your brand through the Instagram app — to share which hashtags they follow.
- Competitor analysis. Look to other influencers, bloggers, or brands in your industry. Which hashtags are they using?
- Social intelligence tools. Apps like Tagsfinder, SparkToro, and Hashtagify compile data to show the most popular hashtags in a given industry. Some show the monthly trend, popularity, and related hashtags.
Her First $100K, for example, uses hashtags like #womeninbusiness and #femtrepreneur in Instagram captions. Both are two options to add to your shortlist if the brand’s target audience overlaps with yours.
3. Diversify your content strategy
Chances are, several different types of content are involved in your Instagram marketing strategy. Just like hashtags, evaluate which types of content work best for your business — and double-down on them. That includes:
- Instagram Reels. The algorithm is pushing this TikTok-style video to compete with the social media platform that’s taken the world by storm.
- Live streams. More than one million people watch Instagram live videos every day — 80% of whom would rather do so than read a blog post. Test whether live streaming does a better job of engaging your audience.
- Instagram Stories. Show behind the scenes of your business, upcoming products, and spark conversations via Instagram Stories.
- Grid posts. Carousels tend to see higher engagement rates than single image posts. See whether this is the case for your business’s profile by split-testing both organic post formats.
Fitness blogger Annie Miller credits Reels with the success of breaking her Instagram plateau. She says: “Viral” content leads to greater exposure (getting in front of new eyeballs + a larger percentage of your following). Instagram Reels can be (and have been) a fantastic way to do drive EXPOSURE (this is one metric, and the only metric I am talking about).”
Related post: What are All of the Instagram Video Specs?
4. Evaluate Instagram Insights
Instagram’s built-in analytics tool shows the activity happening on your business’s profile. It’s a hugely useful tool when breaking out of a plateau. You’re able to uncover metrics like reach, impressions, and engagement rate — for your profile as a whole and each individual piece of content you share to the app.
Consult your Instagram Insights to discover the content your target audience engages with the most. Dive into:
- Follower demographics. What qualities do your followers share? Their age, gender, and location gives a peek into the types of post they’re most likely to engage with.
- Reach by content type. If you find that organic posts reach more people than Stories, prioritize them when your account begins to plateau.
- Discovery. Inside Post Insights, the discovery tab which breaks down how people find your Instagram content — be that from the homepage, Explore page, or your profile. Try to increase these numbers across the board, prioritizing those with the lowest figures to kickstart Instagram growth.
5. Host a giveaway
If there’s one way to break out of an Instagram slump, it’s by hosting a giveaway. Give followers an incentive to engage with your content — and share it with their friends to expand your reach — by giving away free products or services.
Research shows that accounts who run Instagram giveaways grow 70% faster than those who don’t. If that wasn’t convincing enough, contest-related posts on the app receive 3.5 times as many likes, and 64 more comments, on average.
To host your own giveaway:
- Determine the start and end times for the contest.
- Decide on your prize. This could be anything from a free consulting session with your agency to a bundle of your best-selling products.
- Set clear entry requirements. Kickstart your Instagram growth by having people follow your business in order to enter the giveaway. Other options include liking the post, tagging a friend, and reposting the content to their Story.
- Announce the giveaway. Promote the contest heavily through your social media content — including other platforms — to get more entrants. Remember to mention that the giveaway isn’t sponsored or associated with Instagram itself.
- Continue momentum. Use the Comment Automation tool by ManyChat to collect customer data — something you’ll be able to use when retargeting entrants post-giveaway.
- Choose the winner. Use a tool like Wask to announce the giveaway winner via your Instagram profile.
6. Partner with other accounts
There’s a reason why influencer marketing works exceptionally well on Instagram. Businesses that run paid partnerships with popular social media users see an uplift in brand awareness — especially when collaborating with influencers whose target audience overlaps yours.
Add this activity to your social media priority list if you’re stuck in an Instagram plateau. Options include:
- Instagram takeovers. Have an influencer “take over” your business’s Instagram account for the day. As part of the campaign, encourage them to share news of the takeover on their own profile. Their audience will follow your business’s account to see Stories in their feed.
- Collaborations with brand ambassadors. These people are loyal fans of your brand. Strengthen that relationship by inviting them to collaborate with your profile — be that through Instagram Story mentions or sending free products for them to review.
- Promote lead magnets via influencers. E-books, checklists, whitepapers — the list of free content you can offer your Instagram audience is endless. Break out of a plateau with influencer marketing campaigns that promote your lead magnets. Use Instagram automation to hide the content behind an email or SMS opt-in form for future retargeting.
7. Use a scheduling tool
Instagram plateaus happen when you aren’t engaging your audience. That’s almost impossible if you’re sharing content to the social media platform when its users aren’t using the app. It’s a recipe for failure if you post at 4 a.m. in your follower’s timezone. By the time they wake up, your content is buried in their feed. New content takes priority.
Research suggests that the best time to post on Instagram is midday through the week and weekend evenings, though this is merely a best practice. What works for other accounts might not work for yours. So, consult your Instagram Insights to see when your followers are online.
Once you’ve found your optimal posting times, schedule your content for those times. Not only will you reach followers when they’re online (and subsequently improve your reach), but you can batch upload new content to improve productivity.
Want to get started? Popular Instagram scheduling tools include:
8. Engage with followers using automation
There are tons of reasons why people follow brands on social media. Most often, it’s to hear about new products or services, stay updated on company news, and learn about promotions and discounts. Offer all of that to your Instagram followers using automation.
Let’s put that into practice and say your Instagram growth is plateauing because customers aren’t connected with the content you’re sharing. With Instagram Automation by ManyChat, you can:
- Automatically reply to Story mentions. Whether it’s an Instagram takeover or promotion of your giveaway, use the Story Mentions trigger to give an immediate response to anyone that replies to your Story. Point them in the direction of your product page, offer coupon codes, or share a free lead magnet — all of which improve engagement and strengthen relationships with followers.
- Send immediate responses to Instagram DMs. The Conversation Starters feature relieves pressure on people who initiate a conversation with your brand. Present them with a list of options, each with an immediate response, to improve your ROI from the platform.
Use these Instagram growth tips to resume engagement
If your Instagram growth has taken a turn for the worse, use these tips to break out of a plateau. Consult your Instagram Insights and experiment with different content formats. Test which has the greatest impact on the number of followers opting in to hear from your brand.
One thing’s for sure: Instagram has the potential to make serious revenue for your business. Don’t leave money on the table by accepting slow (or no) growth.