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Why and How to Clean Your Instagram Account

Jesse Ingalls
April 5, 2017
Last Updated On
January 27, 2022
magazines on a coach

Your closet isn't the only thing that needs a regular cleaning. Here's why you should consider extending the purge to your Instagram account and how you can do it effectively.

As with any other cleanse, you'll feel so much better once it's done.

Just like how that seasonal purge tends to end up at the very bottom of your to-do list, so is the upkeep on your social media accounts. The last thing you want to do is look back into your past Instagram activity and give everything a good sweep. Why spend valuable hours to maintain what's already in the past when you can be creating new content?

Maintenance tasks are underestimated and need to be given a lot more love than they currently are. And we’re not alone: the guys over at Freakenomics did a whole podcast on the topic. Give it a listen if you need a little more convincing to get you started on this undertaking.

Why Should You Clean Your Instagram Account?

Things change. A brand’s voice and aesthetic changes over time, and it’s important to show consumers that you’re willing to keep your Instagram feed current. You don’t want potential buyers to scroll through four years of content, looking at products or services that are no longer available, or prices that do not reflect present day costs. A thorough cleaning will cut through the noise, and show users exactly what you want them to see.

If you need even more encouragement to get moving towards a shiny and clean Instagram profile, then follow the 5 steps outlined below to reach serious Instagram feed goals.

How to Clean Your Instagram Account

Beginning a full clean or overhaul of your Instagram can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve been building your brand image and using your account for multiple years. By no means does this all need to be done in one sitting. In fact, we recommend tackling only one of these items at a time. By dedicating this specific time to each individual step, you’ll be able to avoid fatigue and will be able to put your best foot forward with every change you make.

1. Update Your Bio and Account Information

A great and easy place to start when it comes to revamping your Instagram account, is what users see first: your bio and profile picture. Alongside those, your account label could also use an upgrade. If you have an Instagram creator account, or an Instagram business account, there is a wide array of labels at your disposal in comparison to a regular personal account.

Once your new and improved bio is solidified, double check that your account information is up to date. This includes your contact information, such as your phone number and email address, as well as a link to your website or LikeShop link-in-bio.

En route to a spic and span Instagram!

2. Delete or Archive Timely Content and Old Posts

Start by going through your profile and looking for content that is time-sensitive, like holiday-related posts. This type of content served a specific purpose at a particular time, but there is a good likelihood that it is no longer relevant. This same thought process applies to what you have highlighted at the top of your profile as well. Many users view your saved stories to get a better understanding of the types of content they will see when they follow you, so it’s important to make a good first impression.

Next, scroll down on your profile. Keep scrolling. Scroll some more, all the way down to your first post. These early images are the most likely to be out of sync with your current social strategy, so it’s important to evaluate which ones are safe to delete or archive.

If your time-sensitive or older content still works with your overall strategy, and you want to keep the posts intact, then there is another course of action, which brings us to our next point.

3. Clean Up Your Captions

You also need to pay close attention to your captions on older posts when cleaning up your Instagram account. Whether you're using that space to leverage your LikeShop link-in-bio, or to elicit a timely response from your followers that is no longer relevant (such as a contest), you should remove outdated copy and update it to something more evergreen.

There is another important consideration: the necessary evil that is the hashtag cloud. This won’t be applicable to bigger accounts, but if you’re a brand that’s on the come-up, hashtag clouds are a means to earn exposure. The caveat is that hashtags will get your photo noticed, but are really only effective at getting your post in front of users within 24 hours of posting. So go ahead and delete those old tag clouds.

Judgment time, friends.

4. Manage Your Following

Who you follow is as much a reflection of your online presence as the content you put out. Take stock of who you are following as a brand, and make some updates to align your following with your values. We can’t tell you what the right accounts to follow are; it’s a nuanced decision that has a lot of layers to it. That said, take some time to go through your list to give it a scrub.

Patience and a fine-tooth comb are required in order to curate your perfect following, but one of Instagram's more recent features makes it even easier by showing you who your most and least interacted accounts are when looking at your following. That is a good place to start.

5. Tackle Your Tagged Photos 

Treat your tagged photos page as a second profile to improve the overall presentation of your brand. If your account has been tagged in a photo you don’t think aligns with your brand, hit the three dots in the top right corner of the image, tap “photo options,” and then “hide from my profile.”

This image will no longer show up in your tagged photos, and the account that tagged you will be none the wiser, as they are not notified of your activities.

What are Ghost Followers? 

Ghost followers aren't as spooky or mysterious as the name implies — ghost followers are simply inactive accounts from your follower list. So, why would a brand want to remove ghost followers?

Many brands think the more followers they have, the better. While followers are helpful in terms of credibility, visibility, and having your account recommended to others, having too many inactive followers can harm your engagement — a big ranking factor for the Instagram algorithm and Twitter algorithm.

Another great reason to remove ghost followers from your account is the fact that often, many of these accounts can be from bots. While some ghost followers might be people who are simply inactive or moved on to a different account, having too many followers that don't interact with your content hurts engagement — and, could hurt your brand's credibility if it looks like you've paid for followers and didn't attract them organically.

How to Maintain a Clean Instagram Account

The best way to maintain your fresh new Instagram is by setting a routine. Your routine doesn’t need to be as thorough as the steps we have outlined above, but it would be wise to put some time in your calendar every 6 months to review your profile and make any updates as needed. A surefire way to keep things squeaky clean is by planning. If you’re not already doing so, use the motivation from this cleanup to set up a social media strategy that you can plan for weeks or months in advance. That way you will be able to put together thoughtful posts, and not bog up your feed with posts that might not fit your aesthetic later on.   

Now take a step back, breathe, and admire your hard work. Go ahead, a celebratory profile scroll is in order here.


Should you delete old Instagram posts? 

It depends. If you have posts that no longer reflect your brand, and that you will not want to reference later, then deleting them is fine. If you do want to reference a photo or caption in the future, you can archive the photo instead. All your archived photos are stored in the Archive section of your account. You can view the image, the caption, the likes and comments, but you cannot edit the caption while the photo is archived. Archived photos can be added back to your feed whenever you like. 

Does deleting old Instagram posts hurt your account?

Technically, no. There are no negative repercussions from deleting old posts from your account. The only downside that could come from removing old posts is that once the posts are deleted, so too are their accompanying hashtags. Your photo will no longer gain traction once your post is deleted.

How do you delete all of your Instagram posts?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single button within Instagram you can press that will delete all of your posts while maintaining the rest of your account information. As of right now, the only way to delete Instagram posts through the native application is to select each photo individually and delete it. This can be a tedious process, but is much safer than using third party applications, and allows you to keep everything else pertaining to your account the same.

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