There are a lot of Instagram strategies out there. Some are tried and true, others are silly tactics promising fast growth. Like diets or skincare, if the claims seem too good to be true, they probably are. 

That’s because a lot of these bad techniques give quick results that don’t last. If you actually want to grow on Instagram, or, more importantly, make sales from Instagram, these are some strategies you can leave behind for 2023. 

Cold DMs

On an average day, the number of cold messages or emails I get is astounding. I’m not even that big of a deal. I just am a business owner with a website and social media and somehow that puts me on some cold outreach lists. 

The problem with cold messages is that you’re often not reaching the right people and, even when you are, you’re likely putting your business in a bad light. People hate spam. That’s not something you want your business associated with. 

The best thing you can do is try to warm up people before you send a DM. That could mean interacting with their posts, using their products, meeting them at a networking event, or more. With the possibilities of outreach on social media, you can warm up people pretty easily. 

Follow/Unfollow Strategies

I’m hoping this strategy isn’t still recommended. It seemed like all the rage in the early days of Instagram. Essentially, you follow accounts and then immediately unfollow them in order to hopefully trick someone into following you back. 

If you’re going to follow an account, do so intentionally. Social media (and business in general) is all about building relationships. 

Let’s imagine you did something similar in real life. You see someone at a networking event and tell them “you should stop by my store, I’ll go to yours!” Then, you just don’t show up to their store, but you benefit from them coming to buy something from you. Most people would feel cheated or like your word isn’t worth much. That’s not the impression you want for your business. 

Follow Chain Giveaways

Another trendy growth strategy is the follow chain giveaway. I think this has gone out of fashion finally, but there might still be people recommending this idea. 

Essentially, it’s a giveaway that requires you to follow all the accounts involved in the giveaway to enter. It’s a way that a bunch of influencers or businesses can pool their funds to give out a bigger prize and get more followers. 

Now, this strategy does grow your Instagram followers. I’m not saying it doesn’t. What I am saying is that it doesn’t give you the followers you actually want. 

If you just want to brag about how many followers you have, feel free to do something like this. But if you want to actually make sales from your followers, this is like buying a Super Bowl ad when you’re trying to reach people in Buenos Aires. You’ll get a lot of views, but that won’t translate to much.

One thing that I do want to make clear, I’m not saying ALL giveaways are bad. You can do a giveaway that attracts your ideal audience instead of just attracting a lot of noise. For instance, you could be a massage therapist and offer 5 free massages for new followers. People who enter that giveaway clearly like and want massages. That’s a good audience for you to have.

Buying Followers

Purple, red, and yellow gradient with a talk bubble that has a heart in it indicating an Instagram likeIf you’ve read this far, you probably know what I’m going to say about buying followers. If all you care about is bragging about the number of followers you have, then go ahead! If you’re actually trying to build a business though, buying followers won’t get you anywhere. 

The reality is that most people don’t care about the number of followers you have. Even if you are an influencer, bought followers don’t engage and brands know that. 

Stop focusing on vanity metrics and start focusing on your ROI. 

Engagement Pods

Engagement pods are essentially groups of businesses who decide to engage with each other’s posts in hope that it will tell the algorithm to show those posts to more people. 

These are still popular. While I understand the sentiment behind it, I hate these for so many reasons. Here’s why:

  • You aren’t getting real engagement on your posts so you don’t know what’s actually performing well and what isn’t
  • You’re getting a lot of likes from accounts that aren’t your ideal audience
  • Likes don’t matter, sales do
  • Instagram is smart enough to notice when only a few accounts are engaging with each other and will actually slow down your reach
  • It’s not an algorithm hack
  • It’s not real, sustainable, or long-term growth


Hashtags don’t hurt, but they don’t do much to help on Instagram any more. This might be controversial. But I come with proof! Check out this article if you want to dive deeper and look at the data. 

If you’re still paying for a hashtag generator or spending hours researching the best hashtag strategies, your time can be better spent elsewhere. 

I’d recommend looking into how you can use keywords for your content instead. I wrote an article back in 2021 about SEO on Instagram.

Instagram Strategy for 2023

So what should you do for your 2023 Instagram strategy? I’ve already written on this subject too. 

I even have a breakdown of some newer features that you can use.