It’s been 12 years since Instagram was first launched. That means some of us have been marketing on the platform for over a decade. Over time, it’s easy for bad habits to creep in and get left behind with old strategies.

Here are four ways that you can instantly improve your Instagram presence, simply by dropping these outdated (and sometimes damaging) tactics.

1. Follow/Unfollow

The “follow/unfollow” tactic was popularised by bloggers around 2015. It was an effective hack in the early days of the Instagram algorithm when simply following someone would get their attention.

It seemed easy at the time – you followed someone, maybe they followed you back, and then you soon unfollowed them to keep your feed tidy and your following count down.

But nowadays, there are several problems with this strategy…

  • You’ll get followed back by accounts that crave engagement, not accounts from your target audience who would interact with your posts
  • You risk getting flagged by the algorithm for spam and potentially ‘shadowbanned’
  • It’s disrespectful to other accounts that are trying to build a genuine audience.

Not to mention that following/unfollowing is slow, time-consuming, and rather boring! There are much more effective, creative ways to use your time on Instagram.

Find out in our previous blog why you should also never buy fake followers.

2. Engagement Pods

Engagement pods or engagement groups are other tactics that grew out of blogging. Bloggers are a tight-knit community, and back in the day, some of them banded together to boost their Instagram engagement.

In an engagement pod, you agree to like, comment, or share each other’s Instagram posts. If you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours.

The problem with this is that Instagram actively tracks engagement pods or patterns of activity that look like engagement pods. So even if your engagement pod is organised elsewhere – for example, through a private Facebook group – Instagram could limit your reach or even ban your account. It really isn’t worth the risk!

3. Unapproved Giveaways

In the right circumstances, a giveaway can be an effective way to build your community or showcase products and services. But it has to be targeted, purposeful, and within Instagram’s guidelines.

Don’t get involved in giveaways with multiple brands. These pop up on our feeds all the time. Businesses group together to offer a prize with broad appeal (such as gift cards) and ask entrants to follow every business in the group on Instagram.

There are two problems here. First, Instagram frowns on this kind of giveaway; it’s spammy and encourages artificial engagement. Secondly, you won’t attract your target audience this way. You’ll just get a bunch of follows from people who want discounts and deals, and they’ll either unfollow immediately when they don’t win the prize or damage your engagement ratio by ignoring your posts.

4. Untargeted Engagement or Artificial Engagement

The final tactic on our blacklist is untargeted engagement. This is harder to define but it can include things like:

  • Liking posts at random
  • Commenting on posts just to get attention
  • Commenting on posts to announce deals or information about your business

There’s a place for commenting on posts from your target audience or even reaching out to them via direct messages (DMs). But that kind of hands-on engagement has to be selective, targeted, and valuable to the person you’re interacting with.

If you just comment and like on random posts as they come in your feed, that’s spam. It damages both your reputation and standing with the Instagram algorithm.

If you need more help with your Instagram or have any questions about boosting engagement, get in touch with our team today.

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