Editor notes: this is a repost of an old So Good Digital article that currently brings nearly two thousand organic visitors to the website monthly. 

Why in the world would anyone want to start their Instagram account from scratch?

Creating an account takes time, effort, and sometimes a monetary investment. Taking all of this into consideration, starting from scratch might seem like a waste.

But there is a good reason for you to consider starting over. Hear me out.

Unlike when building a website, there are no benefits to having an older social media account. Instagram doesn’t consider account age and there’s no proof that older accounts are shown any preference. On social media, one thing matters most: engagement.

And if you haven’t been hitting your engagement metrics or have left an account to wither away without upkeep, it may be advantageous to start completely from scratch rather than trying to revive the old account.

How do I know to Start my Instagram Over?

Your first step should be to evaluate your journey and how you got here. Look back at your Instagram history. Certain tactics that were common in Instagram’s infancy are now considered “black hat”, and if you’ve ever participated in the social media dark arts you may be responsible for the stagnating account.

Have you bought followers or used bots to comment on your posts? Are the followers you gained legitimate and used by real people? Have you used a third-party app in the past?

It’s okay to admit it. There was a time when you were losing if you weren’t using some sort of third-party app for automation purposes. Automation is still considered by many to be a grey area in social media marketing.

Accounts are easily evaluated to determine how many users are real people as opposed to bots. If you’ve ever attempted to game the algorithm, Instagram likely knows about it.

And if Instagram has identified you as a troublemaker, there’s a chance they took action against you without your knowledge. Your options are to start with a brand new Instagram account or hope the shadowban isn’t permanent.

What is the Instagram Shadowban?

A shadowban is a term that means your account was flagged and is experiencing the pitfalls of a banning, without actually having your account removed. Whether or not Instagram participates in shadowbanning has been the subject of debate for a long time, but there’s evidence suggesting it’s very real.

Back in 2018, some Instagram users learned that their content wasn’t being found through Instagram’s search feature.

Instagram, in turn, addressed what they called “issues with our hashtag search”. In the statement, rather than outlining what the issue was or how they would implement a fix they placed the onus on the user. It wasn’t a problem with Instagram, they claimed, but rather with certain users. The solution to being found in the search was simply to make better content.

What many Instagram users gathered from this was that the rumored Instagram shadowban was real. In this instance, users reported being unable to find their content in the Explore section or through the hashtag search. The reason, it seems, is because Instagram didn’t want them there.

These are, of course, rumors until Instagram comes out and explicitly admits whether or not they shadowban users and it’s unlikely they ever will.

How long does Instagram shadowban last? A rumored antidote to shadowbanning included a quick fix in the form of a 48-hour break which would reset your account’s standing. This still has no merit.

In the footsteps of the shadowban debacle, Instagram spent a good portion of 2018 removing what they deemed were fake likes, followers, and comments and flagging accounts that may have used third-party apps to grow their accounts.

While Instagram has certainly stepped up their game in removing bots from the platform, you may want to take matters into your own hands. Remove, block, or report bot accounts that may be following you. It may feel like a sting to your follower count but remember that vanity metrics do not move the marketing needle forward.

Should I Delete My Instagram And Restart My Feed?

Even if you haven’t used third-party apps or bought followers, an account reset can be seen as an opportunity rather than a waste.

First, brand new accounts are usually given favour on social media platforms. In Social Media Examiner’s Experiment with Organic Targeting, a smaller Facebook page performed better than a larger page. It will always be in a social media platform’s best interest to see you perform well and engage their users. They want to give you a fighting chance to grow your account so starting fresh can be advantageous.

Don’t worry too much about how many followers you have from the get-go. Focus on being discovered.

Second, if you’re considering using an existing account and pivoting the theme of your account with the hope that the change will bring back users – don’t. The last thing users want is to scroll on their newsfeed to find content they didn’t sign up to see. If your change is so massive that users are unfamiliar with your account, they’re going to unsubscribe, or perhaps even worse, they’ll always just scroll past your content, hurting your engagement metrics even further.

Making a New Instagram Account

Getting a fresh set of followers that are genuinely excited about seeing your posts is the best thing for your Instagram account’s health.

Even if that means you only have 100 followers. An account with a small following but a high engagement rate and discoverability potential will get their content seen more often than an account with 5000 followers and only a 1% engagement rate.

Is it still possible to grow organically on Instagram? The answer is yes! Just don’t fall for the 5 most common Instagram mistakes.

The 5 Most Common Reasons Your Instagram Account Stopped Growing.

1. Your Content Isn’t Influencing Your Followers

If you want to grow or just retain your audience, provide them with unique content or solutions. Provide your audience value, education, or entertainment through your content. Keep them up-to-date and share tips or video tutorials and, if you’re running a corporate account, offer them occasional giveaways.

2. You Use the Same Hashtags for Every Post

If you’re using the same hashtags for every post, you are at risk of being perceived as being spammy in those categories. And not just by the users. Instagram itself is very cautious of spam-like content so, even if you’re posting with the best intentions, being found on the same hashtag discovery pages over and over again can accidentally get you flagged by the system and will eventually mean you reach fewer people. Don’t be afraid to switch it up, identify what works, and use your main hashtags sparingly but strategically.

3. You Over Promote Your Products

If you are focusing strictly on sales rather than the interest of your followers, they will get bored fast. There is no issue with promoting products on Instagram, but there is a difference between selling smart and being overly promotional. No one wants to subscribe to an account just to see advertisements. If you sell too much, then your audience will either unsubscribe or stop engaging, leading to an overall drop in impressions.

4. You Haven’t Properly Optimized Your Account Bio

Wow your visitors with a good first impression by adding a captivating description, profile image, and using Instagram Story highlights. This step is easy, but often gets overlooked. In “How to Write the Best Instagram Bio: Ideas, Tips, and Examples”, Hootsuite suggests writing with personality, using hashtags, emojis, line breaks, and finishing with a call to action. With only 150 characters, it’s no easy task, but a properly optimized Instagram bio leads to better discoverability by new users.

5. You Don’t Engage Audience and Focus on Posting

We often spend so much time on the content strategy we neglect engaging with our followers. Go check your DMs. As a general rule, try to respond to all comments you get within 60 minutes of them being posted because, if you don’t, your followers may not feel valued. Next time there’s an opportunity to comment on your post, they may decide “what’s the point?”

Should I Start My Instagram Over?

Ultimately, it’s up to you. What we hope to convey with this post is that the answer to that question is not black and white. If your account has ever infringed on Instagram’s policies, there’s a very good reason that you should start your Instagram over. There’s also an argument to be made for replacing an under-performing account.

Perhaps, the question really should be “do I have the time to start a new account?”. And if so, what goals are you willing to set for yourself to make sure the account performs well and doesn’t end up abandoned?

Starting on social media for corporations can be a difficult and time-consuming task that doesn’t achieve results unless it’s backed by a winning strategy. Working with social media consultants can improve your chances of being discovered and growing your business on social media. For any social media questions, So Good Digital and our consultants have years of experience and are always willing to assist.