Does switching to a business profile really decrease your engagement?

Thomas Strosse
7 min readJan 25, 2018

In the world of Instagram, there’s a hefty rumor going around, it’s been doing so for years now. The subject of this rumor is: does switching to a business profile on Instagram decrease your engagement (or comments and followers growth). In this (opinionated) post, I will take a look at what I believe to be the main cause of this engagement drop experienced by some people.

The reason why I write this, and again: this is my opinion, is because I haven’t seen any real data to suggest that there is in fact a decrease in engagement enforced from Instagram. I’m not saying that there isn’t! There might well be such a thing, after all, they want to sell ads to a certain set of their demographic. Just that I haven’t seen the data to back up the (sometimes dramatic) claims.

Seriously though, does anyone have data to back it up?

However, I am conducting a research experiment to at least gather some evidence to back it up. So if you want to be part of this research, kindly send me a message with your Instagram account and the changes you’ve experienced since switching to a business profile.

Below are a few thoughts, or rather, 4 questions (yes, seriously only four!) I ask when people talk about decreased engagement with Instagram Business Profiles. I will ask them one of these four questions, and then have them think about it.

It is my hope, that this post will share some light on the situation, and that it will help you realize a thing or two about how your run your ship. Oh yeah, and at the end I left a few suggestions on how to boost your profile, whether it’s a business one or not.

Is it the profile layout?

As we all know, there is a substantial difference between a regular profile page and a business profile. Most importantly, a regular profile doesn’t have the options to contact them directly, either through phone or e-mail. This is a big visual difference. And it’s all the platform, there’s nothing you can do about that.

It may well be one of the causes of a decreased followers growth, the look of a profile might prevent some people from following you. If people see your post in their feed, explore or search, and they decide to visit your profile, they may directly turn away and never come back to your profile again. Reason? They are scared they’re going to be sold to. Because in the end, why else would you make a business profile? Sure, a few people who are influencers or need the analytics will create a business profile for ease of doing. But the majority of people using business profiles, will actually try and sell something to their followers. This brings us to the next question.

Has your content become too Sales-y?

Your followers likely followed you (pre-business profile era) for your content or vibe surrounding your content. In my observations however, I have seen that a lot of people, having switched to business profiles, think they can get away with posting all sales related content (seriously, you can’t). This will make your followers run for the gate.

This might be how you want all your followers to be, but they won’t…

I mean, they have followed you because you posted original, amusing content. And now you’re just abusing the pixels on their phones to sell them something? Not a good idea.

On the algorithm side of things, as your posts get less and less engagement, they will be shown to fewer people. Having your followers swipe past your posts, will decrease your exposure and engagement (up next!).

Are you still engaging as much as you used to?

Another question I often ask business owners is: are you still engaging as much with your followers as you used to? I know, running a business takes time. And now that it’s taking off (hence why you probably transformed your profile in to a business profile), you have even less time.

But think about this for yourself, are you still pushing as hard on Instagram to create a community as you did in the weeks or months before?

In the growth hacking phase of your profile, you would’ve probably been stalking your profile. Refreshing every five seconds. Thoughtfully replying to every comment, checking out your newest followers and throwing them a like on their profile,…

So much so that your dog thought he would starve to death. I bet that you’re not spending as much time engaging with your fans anymore. Am I right?

Have you paid attention to the data before?

The last question I often ask people complaining about decreased engagement is this: have you actually paid attention to the data before? When asking this question, I actually mean to challenge your belief of the engagement you had (or think you had).

Oftentimes people will think, they had a terrific amount of engagement before they switched to a business profile. But unless you have actual data to back it up (preferably in percentages), there’s hardly anything to fall back on, except for gut feelings. If you don’t have any raw data from before, how would you expect to measure the difference?

Another thing that’s possible is that you’re only now starting to track your data and paying attention to it. In the building phase of your profile you might have not been bothered so much to track your data and analytics daily (mainly because you would have to use external tools). And now that you do, you’re trying everything to push them higher. Unless your qualitative standard remains intact, none of it will improve your situation.

By the way: fluctuations are absolutely normal!

All questions are asked, but I still wanted to add one more thing. Fluctuations are absolutely normal! When we spend time with our family and friends(Friday nights, weekends, holidays, birthdays,…) we tend to be less online. So it’s normal to see less likes and comments on posts in the weekends or during holidays!

Another thing: people change. Have you found yourself super motivated by one post, and then just going nuts on that type of content (diets, fitness,…) only to lose your interest weeks later and never look back? Well the same thing happens to your fans. They might like all your stuff for weeks, and then just drop off the grid completely. It’s basic human behavior.

Also keep in mind that as your profile increases in size, engagement will drop off little by little. Profiles with 1000 followers will likely have a higher engagement than profiles with 10 000 followers. Sure the amount of likes will be higher (or should be…) for the 10K account, but percentage-wise it won’t look nearly as good as it would on the 1K account.

Decreasing as you grow is normal

Tips to increase your engagement on Instagram

Although the majority of people will say they see a decrease in engagement after switching to a business profile, there are people who have found success after switching. Here are a few things (as I promised at the start) you should do, regardless if you have a business profile or not:

· Keep your captions fresh and interesting. Ask questions (and don’t settle with Yes or No questions, that’s too easy).

· Keep engaging with your followers, reply to their comments (and ask them follow up questions). Chat with them on the DM. Check out their content and give a (honest) like and comment.

· Reach out to others. Check out some of your favorite hashtags, like any content you see there? Click on it, and drop a heart and a reply. Network is leverage.

· Post at optimal times. The benefit of having a business profile, is that you now have built-in analytics. Check where most of your followers base is from, and schedule your posts around their time. Especially focus on the times where those people would be commuting, eating lunch,… You have data, use it wisely!

· Please don’t post boring content. If you’re selling any type of product on your profile, please stage them in a manner so people would actually feel something. Don’t make it look like a product shot from a 90’s catalog on a white background. Seriously, don’t!

· Use stories. I don’t know if you have checked out the numbers yet, but stories are (becoming) huge! Try to post a story daily. And use the highlights to create collections. Create a collection where you tell your followers about your brand, what it’s about. Create another story to take them through your office space (if you have one) or creation process. This will open up your brand, and break down the walls.

· Find your truest fans. Kevin Kelly once wrote an essay “1 000 true fans”. Find your biggest fans on Instagram, and tag them in your posts. Connect with them through DM, make them your advocates. I swear, you won’t regret it!

What is your experience with Business profiles?

Seriously, thanks for reading all the way through!

I wanted to close with another question: what is your experience with Business profiles on Instagram? Does it work out for you? Or not?

I’d love to connect with you and chat about it in the comments!

Or, if you would prefer to send me a mail (for my research or any other inquiry) can always reach me through my website.