Suddenly Losing Instagram Followers? Here’s Why

Have you found yourself constantly refreshing the #instagramdown hashtag on Twitter, purely in hope to find a solution for why you’re suddenly losing Instagram followers? Well if so then let me tell you the bad news; there’s nothing wrong with the Instagram servers. In this post I will explain why you might be experiencing a sudden drop in your daily follower count, and how to rectify the situation going forward.

The likely culprit for why you’re losing Instagram followers all of a sudden, especially when you’re normally gaining new followers every day, is because you may have been ‘shadow banned’ by the social media platform. A shadow ban will effectively prevent your content from being shown under the respective hashtags that have been used in the post’s captions (or comments section). To make things worse, there is no official warning to when you have been shadow banned, although the sudden drop in followers should be a red flag.

The best way to spot whether you have been shadow banned or not, is to search through a few of the hashtags that have been used in your latest posts, and see whether your posts show up in the feed for that hashtag at all. This may be easier to do if you’ve used an obscure hashtag, as there will be less posts to sift through. Needless to say though, this should be checked by a second account just to be certain.

Avoid the headache by checking out this post I wrote on how to always beat the Instagram algorithm, which promotes growing your account the authentic way – as well as teaching you how the algorithm works!

My Instagram account, @unreal.tattoos suddenly started losing Instagram followers because of the shadow ban
Here is a screenshot of the Instagram insights for my account @unreal.tattoos. Prior to the shadow ban, the account was gaining 500-1,000 new followers per day. After the shadow ban it suddenly started losing 25-100 Instagram followers a day.

What can cause a shadow ban?

Instagram have dispelled the notion that there is an official shadow ban, however we all know that there definitely is one. From my experience of growing various Instagram accounts over the past several years, I can confirm that I have had my own experience with the said account restrictions, and it can be quite demoralising as there’s no explanation from Instagram as to why it may have happened.

That being said though, my experience has taught me that there are multiple reasons why you can be shadow banned on Instagram. Some are more obvious than others, and they can all be avoided. Without further ado, here are some of the reasons why your account might be restricted:

Using bots

Instagram have really been clamping down recently on users who are abusing the platform, especially when they’re using bots to automate not only their content, but their engagement too. If you’ve been using the platform for long enough, you will be aware of the now frowned-upon growth method called ‘Follow/Unfollow’. Many users were using bots to automate this method, where they would follow an account in an attempt to have them follow them back, before unfollowing them after a few days regardless. This process would be automated 24/7, and after a few years of success – Instagram had enough.

Not only has the social media platform penalised offenders with shadow bans, they have also gone as far as banning certain users from the platform indefinitely. The Follow/Unfollow method is just one of the ways that a bot can automate your Instagram tasks, however all of them have come under huge scrutiny in the past year or so. If you’re thinking about using bots to further your Instagram account growth, then I would highly recommend that you avoid doing so. As an alternative, if you’re looking to schedule your Instagram posts in advance then you can use Instagram-approved services such as Buffer.

Want to know when you the optimal time to post on Instagram is, and how often you should be doing so? Check out this post to find out and achieve peak engagement.

Repetitive hashtags

This point might be a strange one, but you can have your account restricted by Instagram if you tend to use the same hashtags over and over again. The reason being is that the repetitive use of hashtags can be seen as a spam tactic, which could easily be done with the use of a bot, whereby you would schedule 100’s of posts in advance – all with the exact same hashtags – and then just sit back and let the followers swarm in. Obviously Instagram wants to keep the platform as socially engaging as possible, so they’ll penalise any accounts that appear to be doing anything that a bot might do.

To avoid getting yourself shadow banned for the repetitive use of hashtags, it goes without saying that you should mix up your hashtags regularly. The best way to do this is to use hashtags that are relevant to the content that you’re posting, especially as Instagram are getting smarter by the day. Don’t be surprised that Instagram’s algorithm can detect the content within an image or video, and scan your captions and hashtags for relevancy at the same time. So you probably shouldn’t be spamming the hashtag #lovethesausage unless you’re tucking into a German Bratwurst.

Need some help with which hashtags to use and where to use them? Check out this Ultimate Guide on how to use Hashtags to grow your account in no time!

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Reported content

I believe that this was the main reason as to why my @unreal.tattoos account (above) received its shadow ban recently, as I had posted an image of some women on the beach in bikinis, who were covered in large tattoos. You’ll have to trust me when I say that there was nothing outrageous on show, and that it was quite a normal post for a tattoo fan-page to share (especially on Instagram), however I did receive a warning from Instagram that the said post had been reported and subsequently removed for “Nudity or Pornography”. Whaaat?!

I was honestly surprised as it was the sort of image you see in every other post on your Instagram feed, however it was no big deal to me, I accepted it and moved on. It was only a few days later though that I noticed that not only were my posts receiving less engagement, I was also losing followers too. After searching through each hashtag, looking for my posts, I concluded that I had in fact been shadow banned only a few days after that reported post had been taken down. Since then I have been overly strict on the content that I post on my Instagram accounts, and am hoping that it’s the last time I get restricted!

How to remove the shadow ban

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed yet, but I haven’t yet mentioned that the shadow ban was permanent – and that’s because it isn’t. Luckily for you the shadow ban can be reversed, provided that you avoid making the previously mentioned mistakes, as well as first taking a break from Instagram altogether. When I encountered my shadow ban, I decided to take a break from the platform for a week or two just to get myself back into Instagram’s good books. When I returned, I continued posting great content however this time with a closer eye on what I can’t post. If I ever questioned whether I should post a certain image or video; then it was an automatic ‘No’ for me.

You can find more information on the Instagram shadow ban in this post!

I reversed the shadow ban for my Instagram account @unreal.tattoos, after it was suddenly losing followers the week prior.
I managed to turn my fortunes around with @unreal.tattoos, and reverse the shadow ban.

As you can see from the above example, my brief break away from Instagram, coupled with the high-quality of content when I returned, meant that my account was now being shown on the respective hashtags again. After a few days I am starting to see an average of 300 new (net) followers per day, which is still below the 500-1,000 average that I was getting before, but it is certainly better than losing 100 followers on Instagram per day!

If you really want to start growing your Instagram account the authentic way, then you should seriously consider trying out Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘$1.80 Strategy’, and begin gaining new, targeted followers today!

Conclusion

If your Instagram is suddenly losing followers, then it’s probably because you’ve been hit by the infamous ‘shadow ban’. This can be because you’ve been using unauthorised software, spamming (irrelevant) hashtags or posting controversial content. To rectify the ban, it’s best to take a break before the platform and then avoid making the aforementioned mistakes going forward.

Do you have any questions or feedback on this post? If so, let me know in the comment section below!

Have you found yourself constantly refreshing the #instagramdown hashtag on Twitter, purely in hope to find a solution for why you're suddenly losing Instagram followers? Well if so then let me tell you the bad news; there's nothing wrong with the Instagram servers. In this post I will explain why you might be experiencing a sudden drop in your daily follower count, and how to rectify the situation going forward. #instagram #social #media #marketing #followers #likes #comments #grow
Did you find this post on why you’re losing Instagram followers useful? If so, I would be very grateful if you could pin this image on Pinterest!

This Post Has 62 Comments

  1. A_Me

    This post helped me so much! Thank you

    1. Mike Walters

      Thank you for your comment, I’m glad the post was of good use to you 🙂

      1. Rich Fasanello

        When I take the break do you recommend I not even follow new followers???

        1. Mike Walters

          Unfortunately, yes. It’s best practice to not perform any actions during this period, including following new followers. If all goes well though, you should be back up and running in no time!

  2. Darcy

    Do I need to stay off Instagram completely? Can I still message and like photos etc?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Darcy, my advice would be Yes. Stay off Instagram completely during this timeframe and spend this time doing something productive. After the time is up, return to Instagram and take it slow with the number of actions. Hope this helps 🙂

  3. Michelle

    This is so helpful! Thank you!

    1. Mike Walters

      Thank you Michelle, happy to help!

  4. Rubaiya

    Who aren’t follow me…they ate also able to see my post under the hashtag I’m used….but ig continuously removed my followers…. Why? is there any other way to check that that I’m shadow ban or not ??? Please help me…

    1. Mike Walters

      If people are able to find your content through your hashtags, then that suggests that you are not shadow-banned. Instagram doesn’t remove followers, it’s the followers that choose to remove themselves. This could be for a variety of reasons but more often than not it’s either because your content isn’t good enough or it’s no longer relevant to them.

  5. Marcus

    Can I temporarily deactivate my account for 2 weeks and will the shadowbanned disapear or its have to be still activated?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Marcus, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure! I would think that it’s purely a timing issue and assume that you can deactivate the account during this time – although I’m not sure that you need to stretch to those measures.

  6. Shawn

    Any inside on why someone would lose 800 followers in 1 day? When normally we have been very steady with gaining or losing followers.

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Shawn. Wow, 800 seems like a lot to lose in one day… unless you’ve got millions of followers of course. Although it does depend on the size of the account, it might be a case that Instagram has just done a general cleanup of fake accounts/bots and everyone’s taken the hit – not just you!

      1. Shawn

        Hey Mike, we wish we had millions of followers! We are at about 25k. Was just in shock and trying to find some justification to the drop as indeed it allot.
        Thanks!

        1. Mike Walters

          Hey Shawn, yea that is weird. Unless you posted something that was hugely controversial or offensive, then I would suggest that it was just Instagram doing a cleanup.

  7. Misha

    Hello. It is possible that I’ ve been shadow banned because reporting other accounts with inpropriate content? I don’t find the other explanation… I’ve lost 100 follower in a day… Thanks for your opinion!

    1. Mike Walters

      Hello Misha. Hmm, I mean I wouldn’t think so however if you were doing it constantly then who knows. Hopefully, you’re only reporting content that should be reported! Either way, I should think that your answer lies elsewhere. Is there anything else that you have (or haven’t) done that could cause this drop in followers?

  8. Julian

    Hey! I found your post quite useful. It’s been like a year or so since I’ve been losing followers, at a quite interesting rate; for example, in april 2020 i used to have almost 97k, now i’m down to 85k and dropping everyday. I just checked insights on my account and it seems to go something like this: every day, if I gain let’s say 55 followers, I lose around 100. I gain 35, I lose around 70. I lose 2 times the number I gain. It’s super weird. But my posts do appear on hashtags (i searched from another account). What do you think it is? Should I leave the account alone for a couple weeks? Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Julian, thank you for reaching out. If you can see your posts then I see no reason to leave it for two weeks, in fact, I think that would only make it worse. I’m thinking that bots are following you and then unfollowing you a day or two later. Your main issue is that you’re not gaining followers quick enough, as 35-55 a day is really low for an account of that size. If you would like some guidance on how to revive your account then we can arrange for an account audit. Just let me know 🙂

      1. Jacori Robinson

        Hi Mike how could I possibly get an account audit from you?

  9. Jes

    Can you get those followers back that were lost? I lost 300 in a matter of hours…

    1. Mike Walters

      I’m afraid not. What I will say though is that if someone unfollows you then it means that they weren’t the right fit for your content – which could be seen as a good thing.

  10. Orla

    Hello

    I am Enquiring why my account would drop 50 followers in one day, then a few hours later go back up to + 50, then go back to -50 again today. I also got a spam of Arabic followers before this where I had to manually remove myself yesterday which where all gone and I changed my password and username . I checked my recent activity and it’s been no on but my own activity through my account . I am confused why this would happen. Any advice ?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Orla! That’s a strange one but I would suggest that there is one individual or organization behind those Arabic accounts, and that they’ve set it up so that the accounts follow (and engage with) accounts that meet a certain criteria. My guess is that your account meets that description. I wouldn’t waste your time removing them all though. Just focus on creating great, valuable content.

  11. Weronika

    That is a very useful post, thank you! I’ve been experiencing a significant drop in likes on my 25k account, from around 2k per post, with 5-10k views from hashtags, to 100 likes per post and no views from hashtags. It’s an account with my own art, so the quality is steady… do you have any idea what could cause such a drop? I was wondering if Instagram didn’t change something about consistency of style/ color palettes/ etc. But this would be so limiting for artists accounts! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!

    1. Mike Walters

      Hello Weronika. That does seem to be a lot to lose per post. I’d be interested to check out your account to see what the problem might be. It would be hard for me to guess without seeing the proof for myself

  12. Kate

    Hello, this post was really helpful
    For a while now, I’ve been loosing followers, I’m on 29.3k now, if i gain 40 followers, I’d check and find out that about 40 followers unfollowed me and this has been happening for some time now. Though I was actually unfollowing people cause I wanted to reduce the amount of people that I followed and I was actually following the 2s rule while unfollowing them, I didn’t know it will lead to my account loosing followers, what do u suggest I do? Should I temporarily disable the account and come back after a week or I should just leave the account logged in but not open the app for a week or so

    1. Mike Walters

      Hello Kate. First I would double-check whether you are actually shadowbanned or not. If not, there would be no need to take such a break. If you are then yes I would recommend taking a week off

      1. Kate

        Ok have you checked?

        1. Mike Walters

          I have not, no. I don’t actually have any details of your account. That being said, this is something that you can check yourself using the information within this article. I also have a separate blog post specifically talking about the shadow-ban and how to check if you have one. To save you time though, it basically boils down to searching for your content under the hashtags that you’ve used. If it’s under the most recent then great, if not then you may have a shadow-ban.

  13. Penelope

    Thanks for your blog post, really helpful! I’ve been really worried and wondering why I’ve been loosing followers lately when my content is really high quality and I don’t use any bots or ai tools but only organic grow.. And it’s because I always use the same 30 hashtags!! hehe I’ll try to take a break (1-2 weeks) and come back with a more strategic approach when it comes to the use of hashtags 🙂 Thanks again!

    1. Mike Walters

      Glad I could be of help Penelope 🙂

    1. Mike Walters

      Thank you! I really appreciate it. Let me know if I can be of any further help

  14. Andrey

    Hi Mike
    I’ve heard that hashtags are not helpful anymore to increase a number of followers, is it true?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Andrey, couldn’t be more wrong! I have accounts growing by up to 1,000 new followers a day (net) from just consistent posting + hashtags.

  15. Sophie

    I have used an application to unfolmow the people who dont follow me . Ot was my friend advice and i did nt know it was not allowed.. they already blocked my account for 10 days.and now im losing every day few … are you sure it will help to stop this if i just stop using instagram for 2 weeks. Its my business account and its CHRISTMAS soon so i have to keep communicate….

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Sophie. Yes, unfortunately you will have to wait I’m afraid. I would also avoid unfollowing people that don’t follow you. You should only be following people because you like their content, not because you want a follow back.

  16. Charly. G.

    Muy útil! Aprovecho para preguntare si así como buffer, later puede utilizarse?
    Es decir, mencionas en tu post que buffer esta autorizada por instagram, quería saber si later también.

    Gracias!

    1. Mike Walters

      Hola Charly. Yes, Later is approved!

  17. Tim

    Hello Mike

    Thank you for this information. I have multiple accounts and the account that is losing followers has lost 2000 in the last few months. I use a company to help grow my followers and they were doing the following and unfollowing but I canceled there service 2 years ago. The followers just started dropping recently. Do I have to stop using IG all together for that 1-2 week period? Or can I still use my other accounts that arent losing followers?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hello Tim, I would say that you should first confirm 100% that you are shadow-banned. If not then I would say that you continue using those accounts as is. If you are shadow-banned however, then you need to take a 1-2 week break from Instagram, especially if all of the accounts are being run from the same IP Address, which I would imagine that they are.

      1. Tim

        Funny thing is I have not been using hashtags since this started just posting and I believe its good content. I wish there was another way to verify if I was banned. I guess there may be another reason I am losing followers due to using that third party to boost followers.

        1. Mike Walters

          Hi Tim. It’s natural to lose followers with each post that you share, that’s just how social media is! If you’re not gaining followers at the same time though then you’re in trouble. That’s where you should be using (the right) hashtags! Be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags here on my blog!

  18. Emily

    Hi Mike. Thanks for the post. Last Monday I logged onto my “followers” account and in a refresh I lost 450+ followers (I only had about 1200 followers), my last 6 posts I had posted over the last year were gone, and I lost about 30% of the likes on my photos left. Many of the followers I lost were normal people, not bots… though they were a lot of people that I had once followed but have unfollowed over the years. I don’t even know why I have the app… ugh. I’ve tried to report this on Instagram about 12 times a day over the last 6 days but am getting nothing back, of course. Do you think my pictures will ever come back? I don’t really care about the followers (though it’s wildly annoying), but I really want to my photos back! (And selfishly the true number of likes on my photos)

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Emily, that really sucks to hear. Unfortunately, I doubt that you’ll get your pictures back. I once had an issue where the first slide of a 10-slide carousel disappeared, and as such, it ruined the aesthetic of my feed. Like you, I reported it multiple times to Instagram but their customer support is almost non-existent. It sounds like Instagram did a global wipe of bots, inactive accounts etc but as you mentioned they were real people so I’m not sure at this point. Apologies for not being more helpful.

  19. Ali

    The same problem happen for juliana is happening to meh…so please how can we contact you and help us solve this problem…

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Ali, thanks for reaching out. I understand your frustration. The best way to contact me is via Instagram @mike.walterz! 🙂

  20. Ely

    Hi i used to get 1000 followers a fay till 3 month a go now only getting 300 a day but says 300 followed you and 500 unfollowed i have tried coming off Instagram for 3 weeks when i logged back on same happend
    I was at 85k then now gone down to 69k and loosing hundreds a day

    Instagram elyinkmodell

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Ely, I would be more than happy to audit your account and identity the issue for you, getting your account back on the right track. If this sounds like something you would be interested in then you can contact me here.

  21. Prerna

    Hey there,idk about my shadow ban fact actually i had a account which was a sitcom fanpage before and it got like 4000 followers certainly i stopped posting on that account for a year and recently i converted that account into a travel and video creator account I deleted so many photos at one go now i post great content but i am not getting a proper reach,what would you suggest over this?

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey, the issue there is that your followers no longer resonate with your content and as such your engagement has dropped. Good engagement (which isn’t faked) is key if you want to grow your account. Also, leaving the account for a year definitely will have killed off its growth. It will be tough, but you can revive this account.

  22. J

    I’m confused abt smthing. I get that the shadow ban will result in less exposure of ur content which will definitely effect ur ability to gain new followers but how does that translate to losing the ones u already have? Does Instagram literally just pick followers and delete them from ur account??

    1. Mike Walters

      Hello J. The shadowban wouldn’t directly you lose you followers, however, it would kill off any chance of growing the account. It’s only normal to lose followers every day because people get bored, aren’t interested anymore or are doing the (terrible) follow/unfollow method. There’s many reasons why people might unfollow, but if you’re not gaining followers at the same time then your account will consistently be in decline.

  23. Yarelly

    Thank you so very much!!! This was incredibly helpful and I will follow your advise! I am a tiny IG and trying to grow my small business so when the blow came it hurt a lot. But I will take this week and refocus and never repeat my hashtags again

    1. Mike Walters

      Great to hear Yarelly! Thank you for the kind words

  24. Alexa

    Hi Mike. Great content, it was very helpful! How can I get an account audit from you to detect exactly what’s going on with my IG? My personal account has consistently lost followers I’ve gone from 16.5k to now 15k within the last 7 months. I have great content of myself and I don’t really use hashtags. A few of my friends with larger accounts gave me shoutouts which grew my account from 10k to 16.5k but once I stopped receiving the shoutouts along with unfollowing people who never followed me back from years ago my follower count and reach decreased tremendously! I believe I’m shadow banned 🙁

    1. Mike Walters

      Hey Alexa, you can drop me a message on Instagram at @mike.walterz or email me here!

  25. Maryam

    Hi Mike. My name is Maryam I’ve been losing followers for the past months. And I don’t know what the problem is. I opened a business account for my business and i don’t have followers in the account. Every time I logged in my business account I lose followers in my other instagram account, like it’s kind of attached or something! After reading your article I was off instagram for a week now. Now I’m scared of logging in the two account! Please help

    1. Mike Walters

      Hi Maryam, sorry to hear that! If you’d like help with this then I do offer a paid Instagram account audit which will help to identify the issue and solve it. If you’d like to know more, feel free to message me on Instagram @mike.walterz!

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