Why Making Your Instagram Account Private Can Get You More Followers
There are a lot of tips and tricks out there for growing your Instagram following, but they’re not always successful for every account. Sometimes you have to think outside the box and apply a trick that seems a little unorthodox, but will ultimately lead to a high return.
In this case, that trick is taking your account from public to private.
This suggestion might seem insane—how are you going to increase your following if you’re not privy to all the followers on Instagram? It’s not the right solution for every account, but for some, it can lead to a major increase in followers.
For example, @drunkpeopledoingthings is a popular comedy Instagram account that was doing very well before they went private. They averaged about 10,000 new followers every week. As soon as they turned the account private, they suddenly had 100,000 in the same time period—a growth rate 10 times what it was before!
It’s a simple Instagram hack that often works. To see the most success with this strategy, you’ll want to carefully monitor your IG analytics, identifying your follower growth rate with a private account compared to a public one. The results might surprise you!
The Real Reason Private Accounts Work
When Instagram account holders started taking their accounts private, it drove people crazy. They hated receiving memes and other content from their friends, only to find out that they couldn’t open the content because it was from a private account.
Many followers went to Twitter to complain about this event, tweeting things like “It should be illegal for Instagram meme accounts to be private.” Others urged Instagram users to improve their manners and stop sending memes from private accounts.
But this backlash is what made Instagram’s private accounts so successful. People couldn’t stop talking about them, and their followers actually grew as a result.
It was this very exclusivity that made private Instagram accounts so successful. People wanted to know what was going on in those private accounts, so they started following them.
A great example of this is a fashion brand called Everlane. They announced in the summer of 2017, “We made our account private today to give you the exclusive. No emails. No updates on the site. The Navy Suede Day Heels are in. Shop starting today in NYC and SF.”
The post received 4,500 likes and thousands of new followers because Instagram users wanted to see the shoes that warranted a private account. Exclusivity on social media—a world where everyone has access to all the same things—can make all the difference.
Attract New Followers
The mystery factor is a huge attraction to new followers. Consider this scenario: Your friend sends you a meme with a caption like “I laughed so hard when I read this!” But when you open the message, you can’t see the meme because it’s a private account. Because your friend had such a great reaction to the meme, you’re dying to know what it said, which means you have to go to the account and click the follow button in order to see it. Now, you can see the meme and you’re following a new account.
This is an effective way to grab new followers if you’re looking for rapid account growth. If a friend had sent that post from a public account, you would have looked at it in your messages and moved on without a second glance at the original account.
The same concept goes for attracting followers who land on your account in a search. If they see that your account is private, but you have thousands of followers, they’ll immediately want to see what all the fuss is about. They’re more likely to hit the follow button just to see what’s up.
Retain Your Followers
Many naysayers to this hack are thinking: It’s great to attract new followers, but can you keep them? Surprisingly, private accounts seem to help with follower retention as well as attraction, but the reason might not be what you think.
It’s just that people are lazy. They want to enjoy social media content in as few steps as possible, and if they choose to unfollow your private account, it will require them to go through more steps in the future.
When you choose to unfollow an account, a pop-up appears that reminds you that you’ll have to request access again if you want to see content from this account in the future. Most of the time, followers find that it’s less trouble to continue following an account than it is to unfollow it.
Add Account Protection
There’s additional protection for accounts that are private as well. Because your content is not public, you don’t have to worry so much about your content being flagged or being copied without permission. It’s not total protection, but it certainly increases your control over what you share.
You also have the ability to block users if they’ve stolen your content, harassed your followers, or otherwise negatively affected your account. You don’t have that control with a public account.
If you’re an account that likes to post humorous things that are on the edge of Instagram’s terms of service agreement, it could also reduce your risks of being reported. Instagrammers who choose to follow you aren’t likely to complain about questionable content, so you can avoid an account suspension.
Will It Work for You?
The positives of taking your Instagram account private are certainly there, but they may not work for everyone. Typically, going private works for those who already have hundreds of thousands of followers. You’ll usually see popular meme Instagram accounts with millions of followers go private, and it works because they can pull off the exclusivity factor.
But smaller accounts that no one knows about might have a harder time achieving success with a private account. However, if you have a truly enticing content sharing strategy where your content is shared regularly over DM, you’ll likely have great success with this account.
Keep in mind that you’re abandoning other platforms of audience discovery—no Instagram Stories ads, no explore page, no hashtags, etc. You’ll get a few curious followers, but you won’t be able to capitalize on other methods of sharing your content, which can significantly limit your reach.
Typically, keeping your Instagram account public is best, but if you have tons of followers and want to try this strategy, by all means! It can be an effective way to increase your followers when your typical strategies are no longer working.