October 27, 2014

As of writing this post, I currently follow 685 people on Instagram. That's a lot of people. But I still have high standards for who I'll follow on Instagram. If I won't follow you on Instagram, it's probably for one of these reasons I'm going to mention here.

I'm also going to give you some tips so that if you're making one or more of these "mistakes", you'll know how to fix it!

No Profile Photo

If you haven't taken the time to upload a profile photo, I'm not going to connect with you. I want to connect with genuine people (or brands) that actually engage on Instagram. And not having a profile photo looks like you're hiding from people.

To be fair, if you use a brand or business logo, this is ok. I follow a number of brands that are represented by their logo and they are just as social as the other people I connect with.

Take the time to upload a quality photo to your Instagram profile that adequately represents you (or your business).

An Inappropriate Profile Photo

This is probably worse than no photo. I am not interested in following someone with their tits hanging out. I'm not going to connect with anyone half naked, in a skimpy bathing suit, or any other significant lack of clothing. Even if your brand is fitness, there are classy ways you can show off your body.

I am not going to follow someone who makes obscene gestures or faces. I am here to connect with professionals and respectable people. If you look like a tool, you're doing yourself a big disservice.

Your Bio Sucks

Ok, this is a wide range of options. If your bio is blank, full of inappropriate language, uses too many emojis, lacks any relevant information, or otherwise sucks, I won't follow you.

Make sure your bio is complete, showcases you, your business, and your personality.

Your Following Ratio is Unbalanced

If you follow thousands of people but have less than a hundred followers. Or if you have thousands of followers but only follow a small handful, I'm not interested in following you.

Instagram is about connecting and engaging with others. If no one wants to follow you, you probably suck, or are spammy, or annoying. So don't expect me to jump on your bandwagon. Likewise, if you can't bring yourself to follow more than 50 people, it doesn't look like you're very social... which goes against my reasons for being on Instagram.

I'm not saying you have to follow everyone who follows you. In fact you shouldn't. But make an effort to actually connect with a number of people in your industry, niche, hobbies, family, or circle of friends.

You Advertise Buying Followers

I don't think I have to defend this one. If you buy followers or offer services to buy followers, I want nothing to do with you. I only connect with real people.

Your Account is Private

Unless you're one of my real life friends, I will not connect with a private account. If I can't see what you share and what you're about, I will not follow you.

Especially if you're using Instagram for your brand or business, ensure that your account is set to public.

You Ask Me to #Follow4Follow

Hells to the no! Seriously. If you make a comment on my post asking me to #follow4follow, I will NOT follow you. And, most of the time, I will delete your comment and report it as spam. Yes. I will.

Don't go around spamming people for likes or follows. It's not going to help your business, your brand, or your account reach the right audience.

You Follow Me, Unfollow Me, and Follow Me Again

Yes, you followed me. I chose not to follow you back. Deal with it. By unfollowing me, and following me again (and for heaven's sake, doing this again... and again), you aren't helping your case.

You look desperate. You're acting crazy. And you're obviously not interested in me for me. You just want me to follow you. Sorry, but I'm just not interested.

You Are a Spam Artist

If you do any combination of the spammy things I've mentioned, or tell me I can make thousands of residual income while posting photos of wads of cash, or tag me in your promotional posts trying to get attention and followers, or advertise your shiz on my posts, you are a spam artist. And I want nothing to do with you.

You can just go away now.

All You Post is Selfies

Seriously, if you're that obsessed with yourself, enjoy your photos. But I have no interest in my feed being full of your face.

I want to connect with people who have actual interests, hobbies, thoughts, and, well, lives. Sure, you can incorporate some selfies into your gallery - we all do! But if nearly every photo is one of you, up close, making some silly face, well, enjoy yourself.

Your Content Doesn't Appeal to Me

This one might not really be a mistake, or even your "fault". It's just that some people's content is not what I want to see. It's that simple.

I choose to follow accounts that share content I'm interested in. So if your account is full of your kids photos, or your breakfast smoothies, or your workout routines, or endless motivational quotes, or other things that I don't really care about, I'm not going to follow you.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't share these things. It just means I'm not your target customer. Please don't take this personally. I understand that my content may not be what you want to see. And I respect that.


If I'm not following you, it's for one of these reasons I've just mentioned.

The reality is that I really like Instagram. And I like to see things I like. So, I'm not going to follow people and crowd my feed with things I don't have any interest in seeing.

What about you? Do you have any other reasons why you won't follow certain people on Instagram? Sound off in the comments below!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. LMAO! Jenn I follow you on Facebook as well as Instagram and even set up the notifications for you on Facebook. You share lots of great tips which have given me some insight and inspired me to add Instagram to my Social Media repertoire despite the added work. Now that I’ve read your through your standards list I really need to print it and go through my Tweeps and likely delete some spammers. Thanks for all the great content you share. I am a fan!

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed this post and happy to hear you find such value in my posts ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Jenn, this is a wonderful post… which I followed from your Instagram feed! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve found, through yours and others’ advice, to follow many of these rules myself already. You’re a good teacher, even if that’s not your primary goal. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times, but you’ve taught me a lot with your content, and I hope to emulate you (and others) as I enter the social media world as a career, and potentially open my own business.

    1. Thank you so much, Krista!! You put a big smile on my face ๐Ÿ˜€
      I love to teach, and through this blog, I love to be able to share that knowledge with others and help them on their journeys. I wish you all the success in your career and future business!

  3. I love your tongue-in-cheek writing style for this! I could not have said it better. Totally agree with you!! I am a firm believer that people should follow those they want to see in thier feed. The follow back thing is so annoying. Just because you are interested in my feed does nto mean I am interested in yours. Asking people to follow you who have no interested in what you are posting does you no good because there will be no engagement. People really need to understand that! The number of followers means nothing if there is no engagement!

    1. Preach it!!
      Thanks Lisa! I’m so glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚ And thank you for understanding and stating that – more people really need to understand that!

  4. “If you look like a tool, youโ€™re doing yourself a big disservice.” Hah! Great post, Jenn. You hit the nail on the head with many of your points – many of my pet peeves on instagram too! Great voice, and great humour – thanks for sharing both! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I just watched you on Creative Live with Sue B. Zimmerman, great job and thanks so much for the tips! I do want to speak from experience on accounts that follow tons of people. I have 1250 followers and am following 4,376 pages. That is a huge number to be following. However for me I think it’s important that I do that for two reasons, one because its causing my brand to stay top of mind (so I get tons of likes and reposts) but It also helps me “sneakily” do R&D. I feature other people’s work but I am also a Nail Wrap Designer and fashion designer. I used to work as a designer in the Fashion Industry and we had to pay for research services. This service cost no less than $60K per year. Due to this, a small designer has to figure out a way to get around that. Being keen to tips and trends by keeping a virtual library “at street level” is well worth the high follows. I believe that there will be a shift due to my posts becoming more and more popular and when I put more time on my #instablog. It’s a crazy strategy, but I generally like and follow anyone (well nearly). These individuals can also become customers because I sell something they like (amateurs who love nail art and nail techs/pros and salons who want cutting edge or exclusive/custom designed nail products, I will be adding nail swag and kits soon).

    Anyway I just wanted to chime in that there could be a good and strategic reason to amass enormous amounts of followers. I hope to be able to sell to every single one of them. Many times ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Dani! Thanks for joining me here and I’m glad you enjoyed the Creative Live session ๐Ÿ™‚
      I definitely agree that having more followers (as long as they’re your target audience ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) is a good strategy. We all want more (good) eyeballs on our content! And if following more people strategically helps you achieve that, then you should do what works for you. While the post was somewhat tongue-in-cheek about the “annoyances” of certain users, the general premise is what I believe: follow who YOU want to and in a way that makes Instagram enjoyable for you.
      It sounds like you’re enjoying it and making good use of it so keep doing what works for you Dani!

  6. I do limit the number of people I follow to just ones that I am really interested in seeing. This is mostly because I think that Instagram puts a limit on the number of photos in your current feed. (Do you happen to know what the number is?) I am the type of person who likes to catch all the posts during a day and if I am away from Instagram for a whole day (work!) it only lets me see the posts for the last 10-12 hours and then cuts them off.
    Thanks for all your tips, they are great.

    1. Hi Linda! There is a limit on the number of posts in your feed – 200. Depending on how active those you follow are and how many you follow, this can span hours or days.
      And, absolutely, if you want to stay on top of your followings’ posts, then only follow as many as works for you.

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