Experts tell you to do a lot of stuff when you want to grow your Instagram account: engage more, post more, show up more, etc. But it’s important to also know the things you should never do on Instagram; things that could lead to the permanent termination of your account.
And, if you’ve ever tried to appeal a social media suspension, you’ll know that it’s virtually impossible to get the decision overturned and even more impossible to speak to a real, living person in the platform’s help department.
To ensure that you don’t end up losing an account with an impressive following (or any kind of following for that matter), check out the 8 things you should never do on Instagram … and then don’t do them (obviously).
1 – Repeatedly Using the Same Old Hashtags
There are are SO MANY reasons why using the same hashtags in your posts, time and time again, is such a bad idea. I’ll list them:
Firstly, you’re limiting your own reach when you use the same tired hashtags over and over again. Using different hashtags can help to increase your reach.
Secondly, the “worth” of certain hashtags changes over time. #beautyblogger, for example, was once one of the most saturated hashtags on the platform; but these days, it’s a temporarily banned hashtag. Using it will see your reach reduced, and repeated use may even come with more disheartening punishments.
Thirdly, Instagram may see you as spam if you repeatedly use the same hashtags in every post — because that’s the kind of thing that spam accounts and bots do.
To avoid being affiliated or linked with any of the bots or spam accounts, avoid adopting their behaviours.
Fourthly, hashtags might be on the way out. Instagram is heading in a more keyword-based direction … which could even see hashtags becoming completely redundant at some point in the future. (I’m predicting it.)
Some experts have suggested that their carousel posts get a much higher reach when they don’t bother with hashtags, and getting more engagements, too.
Maybe throw the hashtags out of the window for a while, or at least see what might happen when you don’t use them?
You don’t know if you don’t try, as they say.
2 – Buying Followers
I could go on a massive long rant about this, but I’ll save you all of the grumpiness. Instead, I’ll just say this: buying followers is useless, counterproductive, a total waste of money … and it makes you look bad, in more ways than one.
I can tell when people have bought followers. It’s not like a secret skill I have or anything; it’s really easy to check. I wrote a blog post all about it, a little while back. If you’re interested, check it out right here: Buying Followers … Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Do It.
The short version is this: buying followers won’t benefit you in any way.
They are fake accounts — they won’t like, comment, engage with, or share your content. They just sit like a zombie follower. You might have lots of followers, but your engagement will be shockingly low.
Think about it: 10,000 followers and only 99 likes on a picture? The Instagram algorithm is a nightmare, admittedly, but it’s not *that* bad.
I looked up the going rates for buying followers online, and this is what I came across:
For 10,000 followers
- Site 1: $64.99
- Site 2: $169.98
- Site 3: $128.90
Why waste that money on useless Instagram followers when you could waste it on snacks instead?
3 – Following/Unfollowing
Here’s a little message from me to everyone who participates in the follow/unfollow game:
FOR THE LOVE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, PLEASE, STOP IT.
Funnily enough, I’ve written a whole ranty blog post on this, too. If you fancy checking it out, you’ll find it right here: Instagram Follow/Unfollow — I See You.
I place little bets with myself over which of my new followers will go on to unfollow me in the days after, and I’m almost always right. Whether I engage with them or not, share their content or not, like and comment on their posts or not, they unfollow.
I’ve had the same bloggers follow me and unfollow me three or four times over, clearly forgetting that they’ve already tried the tactic with me before.
It’s annoying. Stop it.
It doesn’t get you anywhere. Stop it.
Repeated follow/unfollowing will make Instagram think you’re spam and the platform will eventually penalise you. You should probably just STOP IT.
4 – Leaving Spammy, Impersonal Comments
You are told to leave comments on other peoples’ posts in order to drum up engagement for your own content, but that’s empty, crap advice when it’s not elaborated on.
So, let me elaborate:
A comment isn’t just a comment on Instagram.
It can be many other things: spam, an introduction, an invitation to interact, and more.
⇢ The same comment copy/pasted 20 different times on different posts = spam activity.
⇢ The same comments copy/pasted and then slightly tweaked 20 different times on different posts = spam activity.
⇢ Well-thought-out comments that actually mention the original poster’s image or caption = an introduction.
⇢ Comments that answer and ask questions = an invitation to interact.
There’s a difference between a good comment and a bad comment — and a bad comment could get you marked as spam-affiliated, cause a decrease in reach, and may even get your account temporarily suspended or permanently terminated.
5 – Going On Liking Frenzies
Likes just aren’t that important on Instagram.
I’m sorry to say it so bluntly, but that’s the way it is.
Getting lots and lots of likes isn’t enough to get you on the Explore page, nor it is enough to experience real growth. You need comments to go along with those likes, and saves, and shares. The latter two – shares and saves – are the most important interactions to focus on. They are what signal, to Instagram, that your content is worthy of being pushed in front of more people.
What has that got to do with passionately liking a bunch of posts from other people?
In the same way that getting lots of likes isn’t enough for growth, dishing out lots of likes isn’t enough to generate engagement on your own content. It can actually work against you, making you look spammy, indicating that you’re not really showing up for REAL engagement, and discouraging people from engaging with or following you.
Take this screenshot as an example:
The account liked 15 – FIFTEEN – of my images in a two-minute frenzy.
❌ No comments.
❌ No saves.
❌ No shares.
❌ They didn’t even follow me.
If they liked 15 of my posts, you’d think that they’d consider following me, right?
Do you know why they didn’t?
It’s because they never had any intentions of following me.
They probably didn’t even look at any of those 15 posts — they’re mostly all carousels, some of them have longer captions, and it definitely would’ve taken them more than two minutes to work through it all.
They only liked all of those posts because they wanted ME to follow them, engage with them, etc. The liking frenzy was just their way to show up on my radar.
Do you think I’m going to do that?
No, I’m not. Because they’re aren’t interested in building a genuine following or community; they just want huge follower numbers.
6 – Sending Unsolicited DMs
Here’s a fun fact: sending a bunch of unsolicited direct messages to people on Instagram violates the guidelines of using the platform and could see you temporarily – or even permanently – suspended.
> I don’t see any of the so-called Instagram Guru’s telling you that small detail, though! <
Sliding into a few DMs here and there probably won’t land you in too much hot water, but if you do it repeatedly – and people report you for it (as spam/harassment/bullying) – there’s a pretty big chance that you’ll find yourself in Instagram-jail before long.
7 – Sharing Content That Isn’t Yours
Oh my gosh, I’ve got a right bee in my bonnet about this right now. It frustrates me SO MUCH when I see people sharing stuff on Instagram that has been created by someone else, without credit. Not a tag, not a mention in the comments, absolutely no credit whatsoever.
You guys know that you can’t do that, right?
The person who created the photo/illustration/whatever is the person who OWNS it. When you share one of those pieces of content, you are taking something that belongs to someone else and using it without their consent.
In a word, that’s theft.
You’re stealing content.
And, as with real-life theft, stealing content (songs, words, photos, illustrations, videos, etc.) comes with punishments. Repeated violations will, as you’ve probably guessed, get your Instagram account shut down for good.
There are ways of sharing other peoples’ content without outright stealing it — including asking for permission to share, creating a campaign that encourages user generated content, and using images that were designed to be shared (such as stock images).
8 – Following Every Follower Back
If you follow everyone back that follows you, you’re going to end up with a feed so saturated in complete crap that you don’t enjoy looking at, that you won’t end up looking at it at all. (Take it from someone who learned this lesson the hard way, during her earlier Insta-days.)
Follow people that brighten up your feed — accounts that look good, educate you, or entertain you in some way.
It’s a ‘business’ account, yes … but it’s still YOUR account.
It should be a space that you feel happy in.
8 Things You Should Never Do On Instagram ~ A Summary
1 – Repeatedly using the same old hashtags
2 – Buying followers
3 – Following/unfollowing
4 – Leaving spammy, impersonal comments
5 – Going on liking frenzies
6 – Sending unsolicited DMs
7 – Sharing content that isn’t yours
8 – Following every follower back