5 Instagram Strategies You Need To Stop In 2019 + What You Should Do Instead

“Hey girl, I’ve been thinking so much about you these past few days, and I really think you would be so good at what I do (or need my program, or would love my product, you fill in the blank…)”

It was 2015, I was binging on Season 4 of The Office, Jim and Pam were finally together, I was sending out messages—networking and connecting on Facebook in my Christmas pajamas (in September)—and life. was. good.

Fast forward to 2019, and I get the exact same message in my Instagram DMs every dang day from someone new. These days, my response is to gently offer to help them find a better strategy, or if they happened to catch me on a particularly snarky day (which let’s be real, is every day)—a good ol’ fashioned block.

Social media changes faster than Moira Rose’s wigs and what worked even just last year just doesn’t work anymore.

If you’re still using the Instagram marketing strategies you used four years ago then chances are you’re working way too hard to try to grow your account and getting very few results.

With user growth, user behavior changes, algorithm changes, and more ad opportunities, it can be hard to keep up with exactly *how* to use your social media for your business.

Social media basically grows in dog years and if you’re not growing and adjusting with it, your outdated marketing strategies can leave you spinning your wheels and feeling burned out.

So if you’ve got some hold over strategies from the last time you took so-and-so’s free masterclass or read that blog post on Pinterest two years ago, buckle up cause I’m about to make your life so much easier.

In many ways, social media marketing has gotten a little simpler.

It’s become clear how people want to use social media and the platforms have adjusted accordingly. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easier, but your efforts can actually make a splash rather than leave you feeling like your screaming into an empty void.

Back on that lovely, Christmas-jammy-clad evening, while Michael Scott’s infamous Dinner Party was in full swing, I was plugging away on Facebook. Because Facebook was so hot right now. It was the place to be on social media and a place we all enjoyed.

But after a super fun season of good ol’ fashioned political rants, being inundated with ads, and quite frankly a “cooler” app popping up—FB has become a pay to play model for businesses, and a place where people gather to learn in small communities (Facebook groups). But that’s about it.

While those things are super valuable and still incredibly effective, the social party is over on Instagram.

So my dear friend, plugging away, trying to grow her following (and her income) over on the ‘gram. This one’s for you *lifts coffee mug in your direction with a too-cool-for-school head nod*.

The (incomplete) list of outdated Instagram strategies you need to stop doing right now, and what you should be doing instead:


For the love of all that is holy and good, can we please stop this one. In case you’re not familiar, this is a “strategy” used by an account to gain followers:

Account A follows account B in hopes that Account B would turn around and follow them. Then Account A unfollows Account B to keep their “Following” number low and increase their “Followers”.

Nothing says “spam” faster than the follow/unfollow strategy.

The name of the game in 2019 is genuine connection, not vanity metrics. That follower number doesn’t matter nearly as much as the connections you have with the people represented by those numbers. Which brings me to my next “don’t”…


This one is a faux pas on par with that whale tail peaking over the back of your jeans.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

I’m sure you’ve been tempted before. That messages shows up in your DMs and tells you that for only $30 you can get that coveted “K” next to your followers with all of the Kim K level fame, glory, champaign, and diamonds that come with it.

I mean, you have been busting your butt to grow your account a few followers a day, one day at a time. It would be so nice to spend the same amount of money you spend every time you see a new dress at target and finalllllly have that social proof.

This can hurt your account so much more than it will help it. In 2019 vanity metrics mean very little when it comes to your bottom line. “Vanity metrics” is just content marketing speak for “numbers that don’t mean a damn thing to your bank account” aka followers, likes, etc.

Fake followers cannot spend real money. So at a bare minimum, you’ve wasted your money.

But, even worse than that, you just royally screwed your algorithm. That pesky little, infamously personified, algorithm is simply a piece of code in a computer that decides how much exposure a given piece of Instagram content gets.

Since we know that people are on IG for connection, the accounts who’s content encourages community and engagement get prioritized in the newsfeed. Which means your engagement rate is way more important than just about any other number on your account.

Your engagement rate is the rate at which your followers interact with you.

Engagement rates differ from industry to industry and are always higher in smaller accounts (less than 5,000 followers).

The average engagement rate is around 4.7%, while accounts with particularly high engagement clock in around 5.7 %.

Your engagement rate can be found through a really simple math equation:
likes + comments + saves on a particular post divided by # of followers at the time of that post

So if you have 20k (fake followers) and 20 likes, comments, and saves, you’ve got an engagement rate of .001%… Not good.

Hopefully, you’ve thrown out the idea forever, but if you have fallen into the purchased followers trap, I recommend taking some time to delete all of those fake followers to get your account back on track and running like the social space it was meant to be.


This next one is another holdover from years past. Posting all day every day used to work. But thankfully that’s no longer necessary because it actually diminishes the impact that each individual post makes.

Meaning, it can hurt you a whole lot more than it can help. Besides, who can even keep up with that? Not this girl!

A recent case study showed that the more you post, the more your post reach decreases. “Post reach” is how many people see that individual post.

Accounts that posted one time a day received an average reach of 3.39%, while accounts that posted two, three, four times a day received a reach of -3.12%, -6.17%, -13.17% respectively.

It truly is quality over quantity these days.

So instead of posting as often as you can, focus on sharing content that adds account relevant value to your readers.

Think about why they’ve chosen to follow you and provide them with educational, entertaining, or inspirational content relevant to your business, remembering to sprinkle in the relatable and personal content.

It’s better to post ONE really, really good caption a week that actually says something, adding to your reader’s experience, than to post every single day with completely worthless fluff.


Bigger hashtags mean bigger audience, right? Wrong! If you’re still using the “popular” tags (hashtags with 500k-1M+ entries) like hashtag girlboss and hashtag bossbabe, AND you have a smaller account (under 5,000 followers) then you are wasting time and energy.

When you use those tags, rather than getting your content in front of a bigger audience, you get pushed down and hidden behind larger accounts.

The algorithm is prioritizing engagement (do I sound like a broken record yet?), so that means the entries with thousands of likes and hundreds of comments will be shown and yours will be left to die a slow, quiet death in the vast instagram desert.

Instead, find hashtags within your niche where you can be competitive! You want to be featured in the “Top” category of that hashtag so other’s following that tag can discover your account.

The rule of thumb with hashtags is: keep Them Niche. Keep them relevant.

Do NOT tag your captions with irrelevant hashtags.

Don’t post a picture of your dog and with a hashtag ladyboss (unless you run a dog training business and then by all means, tag on.) Look for tags with 500k entries or less, preferably <200k if you have a smaller account.

If you really want to see if you can be competitive in a tag, go to the “Top” of that tag and take a look at the engagement numbers of the first 5-10 posts, if those numbers are similar to yours, then grab that tag up and use it! If their engagement is much higher, just keep searching.

Wanna up your hashtag game? Keep reading – I’ve got just the freebie for you at the end of this post!


And last, but definitely not least, can we please please please, pretty please with sugar on top, STOP COLD MESSAGING?!

If you’re still sitting down to send out those “Hey, girl!” messages, go to your room, you’re grounded!

We have got to stop cold messaging people on social. It’s not cool, in fact, it’s a little icky.⠀

Every day I have people sliding into my DMs asking me to join their new program, try their new {fill in the blank}… Spoiler Alert: I never buy/join/whatever.

If you do not have a relationship with someone, if you do not know their pain points because they’ve trusted you enough to share them with you, how can you solve their problems?

The age of cold messaging is dead. Social is social and we’re fighting hard to keep it that way. Social media in 2019 is a world of relationships, community, connection, and transparency.

Your job is to have your content marketing strategy on point so you can speak the words that bring your people to you! And then put in the work to build relationships, get to know people, show that you care about them.

Then, and only then, you get to make your offer, through your content. Your content is for building Know, Like, and Trust through educating, entertaining, and inspiring. 20% of the time you provide value by sharing your products or services through your content. The DM is for building RELATIONSHIPS so that your friend can truly understand the level at which you care for them—enough to help them in the way only you uniquely can.

Can we make a deal, can we take “hey girl” out of our social media marketing strategy moving forward? Pinky swear? Your business and your friends will thank you. I promise.

So what’s the big takeaway…

The thirsty, spammy habits we used to use in our Instagram strategy are dead. In 2019 and beyond, it’s all about being social, relatable, personable, and providing deep value that hits at the heart of your ideal client’s pain points.

Spend your time on the ‘gram engaging, connecting, and giving more than you take. Leave comments, reply to stories, send DMs and get to know people. Post only when you have something to say, do your hashtag research each month, and make sure your content fits in that sweet spot of what your client needs to hear and what you want to say.

And if you’re having one of those, “How in the hell am I supposed to keep my marketing strategy relevant when I have an actual business to run and who even has time for that?” moments, head on over to my IG and give it a follow! I’ll keep you up to date with social media best practices, creative marketing ideas, tangible action steps, and inspiration to keep your marketing game top notch so you can get actually stop the constant hustle and start to rest.

While you’re down here, get 9 tips to write more better copy

(promise, no incessant emails, mostly ’cos it’s annoying… but mostly because I have no time for that.)