Taking an Instagram break can be a huge decision if you're a small business owner. This is especially true if you've been active on the platform for some time and have built a following and genuine relationships.
The idea that you might lose friends and followers if you take a break is scary (and my experience proves this won't happen).
Most Instagram business owners recognise that, at some point, they need to step away from their accounts and take a break. While some may hire outside help to manage their accounts, others may consider setting firmer boundaries and taking a break.
But how long should the break be? One week, two weeks?
Sometimes a short break just doesn’t feel long enough.
So – Is it possible to take an extended Instagram break without losing followers?
Here's what happened when I took a 5-month Instagram break…
My experience of Instagram burnout
I had been consistently active on Instagram for my business for four years (2018 until 2022). I loved the platform and discovering new accounts and the people behind them. I made so many wonderful connections, and logging into Instagram was my little haven from the world.
I was freelancing as a Social Media Manager and was very active on Instagram for my clients. I was constantly logging in and checking their content, reposting mentions to stories, and replying to comments (as well as my own).
Over time I was always on Instagram. I just couldn’t stop picking up my phone and having a scroll. I enjoyed my habit, and I didn’t feel the need to stop.
It wasn’t until I started feeling fed up with the lack of progress for my business on Instagram and the new focus on Reels that I felt my creativity and enthusiasm for the platform really dry up.
Four reasons I decided to take an Instagram break
- My posting to Instagram started getting more sporadic, and due to the nature of my business and how busy I was with other clients, I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to Reels or create exciting and new content.
- Comparisonitis also started to creep in really hard. I unfollowed a few accounts that I loved but made me feel like I wasn’t as good, which really helped in the short term. But long term I knew I needed to set firmer boundaries with myself, and start more positive routines.
- I also wanted to make changes in my business and I needed time back to be able to do that, and the number one waste of my time was Instagram.
- I didn’t see a massive amount of work being referred to me through Instagram, so I needed to look at the picture as a whole. Instagram no longer made good business sense.
It was time to take a break!
Steps I took to prepare for my Instagram break
I had seen others successfully take extended breaks from Instagram so I knew it was possible.
But it takes preparation. You can’t just log out one day and expect all to tick along and be well when you return.
You need to evergreen your Instagram account
‘Evergreen’ in marketing means it’s long-lasting. Evergreen content will be seen by your ideal client or customer long after you created it, and creating evergreen content on Instagram is entirely possible now that you can discover posts using keyword searches in the search tab.
There are a number of steps I took to evergreen my account before I took my Instagram break.
Here’s what I did:
- Edited my name, so it clearly labelled what my business was about (so I show up in a search for those words)
- Wrote in my bio that I was on an Insta break and where to find me instead
- Posted my final (for a while) 9 grid images, so they remained at the top of my account.
- Within these 9 posts, I made sure it was obvious to anyone discovering me for the first time the benefits of what I do, where to go next, how to contact me, and how to join my mailing list
- I made sure the link in my bio was working and had the correct links to my blog, my lead magnet, and to sign up to my email list. I use Sleek Bio for the link in my bio; it’s a one-off fee of $19 (about £15ish) and offers so many functions. I love it and use it for my clients as well.
I didn't screenshot my Instagram during this time – but here are most of the posts that made up my fixed 9 grid while I was having my break:
What happened during my Instagram break
Once my 9 grid was posted and my Instagram account was evergreened, I removed the app from my home screen and immediately noticed how much extra time I had in my day. (My working hours are between school drop-offs, pick-ups, and occasional evenings, so every hour is precious!)
I had so much more time to do everything I had been putting off!
- I sent regular emails to my email list
- Revamped my offers
- Wrote more blogs
- Got active on LinkedIn
- Launched a course
- Was more involved in memberships I’m a part of
- I did more in-person networking
- I had time to learn more about (and implement) affiliate marketing in my business.
Surprisingly I started getting more sign-ups to my email list from Instagram than I ever had before. My Instagram evergreen strategy was working!
I got more referrals and clients from LinkedIn during those months than I ever had with Instagram.
I didn’t lose lots of Instagram followers. In fact, during the whole period, I only lost 27 followers, and now a month after my return, I have regained that number (and more!)
The people I built relationships with on Instagram – we were in contact in other ways (Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Messenger, Email), and I still checked in on them from time to time.
I can honestly say that I didn’t once feel like I missed Instagram during the whole time I was away!
Occasionally, I had FOMO, and I would ask myself if I should post on there again – but I knew it would just distract me, and it wasn’t a good use of my time when I had other things I needed to do.
My return to Instagram
My content workflow has evolved to include more videos (and is perfect for reels). Since I’ve changed my offers and do less social media management, I have the time and headspace to put into Instagram again.
Aside from an accidental post in November, a month before my return, my plan was always to return to Instagram after Christmas. But I decided to return a little earlier as I was participating in an extensive collaboration organised by Elizabeth Goddard and wanted to help spread the word.
It honestly feels as if I never went away – no fanfare or messages demanding to know where I was, I just slipped back into it all as easily as I slid away.
It’s been lovely to reconnect with people who mostly hang out on Instagram again and feel a sense of familiarity. Still, I know a critical thing as I head into 2023 – I’m going to keep boundaries in place, and I’m going to keep my evergreen strategy.
If you’re ready to take your Instagram break but nervous about doing it, take a look at my short course, Evergreen Your Instagram, which will walk you through everything you need to do, step-by-step, so you can still be found by your ideal clients, even when you're not active on the platform.
Take a look at Evergreen Your Instagram here.
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