Why The Amount Of Instagram Followers You Have Doesn't Matter

June 14, 2021
5 min read

Are you obsessed with how many Instagram followers your business has? It makes sense, really. Everyone and everything is telling you the more followers you have, the better. There are thousands of blogs teaching you how to get more followers. Ad after ad telling you they know the secret to quickly increasing your count.

It seems everyone under the sun is follower-obsessed.

The thing is…

Are more Instagram followers actually better for your business?

Our hot take of the day is NO.

In fact, we believe while increasing your audience is an important goal of any successful social media marketing strategy, simply evaluating your success based on a vanity metric like your follower count is incredibly short-sighted.

Listen. We get it. With a statement as bold as that, we know we have to back it up. This post is going to do just that. We’ll explain why the who in your Instagram audience is far more important than the how many.

We also suggest some far better indicators of social success, including your engagement metrics. Finally, at the end of this post, we include a social media cheat sheet that lists the top questions you should be asking yourself each month.

Benefits of Having a Lot of Instagram Followers

woman at ipad in hair salon

We want to start off by explaining why having a lot of Instagram followers does have some benefits… obviously. You probably already know the main reasons, but let’s just break them down anyway.

Creates Credibility

People hate missing out on a good thing. If a person stumbles across your page and sees a lot of people are already following you, that might be just enough influence for them to tap the follow button themselves.

Friendly Competition

Having more followers than your direct competition is always a nice ego boost. It also might sway someone to choose your company over the other. Especially if it looks like more people are interested in you and your products.

Stories Swipe-Up Feature

Except for your bio, the Instagram stories swipe-up feature is the only part of Instagram that lets you add external links. However, to access this tool you need a minimum of 10,000 followers. For us, this is probably the biggest reason to chase more Instagram followers.

These are the biggest benefits of having a lot of Instagram followers. But enough of that. We’re here to talk about why the number itself matters less and less.

Why The Amount Of Instagram Followers You Have Doesn't Matter

three friends laughing together while looking at laptop

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, ask yourself what your ultimate goal on social media is as a business. For most, it usually involves expanding your customer base, selling more products, and increasing website traffic, to name a few of the top considerations.

To achieve these goals, you need to do more than get your brand in front of as many eyeballs as possible. You need to get your brand in front of the right set of eyeballs. Let’s consider the following examples.

Example 1: Edmonton Eyelash Studio

Christine owns an eyelash studio in Edmonton, Alberta. She is looking to bring on more clients so she starts an Instagram account. Her posts are a mixture of showing off her past work and new products.

Christine becomes obsessed with how many followers she has. Eventually, she decides to buy some online. Now, Christine has over 12,000 followers but she hasn’t managed to gain any new clients and most of her posts only get between 2 - 6 likes.

Example 2: Red Deer Microbrewery

Tom just started a microbrewery in Red Deer, Alberta. He already has a few hundred followers on Instagram but he wants to get his craft beer in the hands of more people.

Instead of looking solely at his follower count, Tom approaches a few local restaurants with partnership ideas. He also decides to offer free tastings at his neighbourhood liquor store. Meanwhile, in his spare time, he does his best to engage with local hashtags, encouraging others to check out his products.

After a few months, Tom adds roughly 75 followers to his count but his sales almost double.

The back of a beer brewery with kegs

The point of these examples is this...

It’s not about getting seen by a lot of people. It’s about getting seen by the right people.

Christine needs to build up a base of local followers who are interested in cosmetics and eyelash products. Having 10,000 fake followers from Bangladesh does her no good.

Meanwhile, Tom might be adding new followers more slowly, but he is focused on adding meaningful followers to his account - local craft beer lovers and foodies.

The number of followers you have does not directly equate to a bigger business or more sales. However, having a loyal list of the right followers does - and this takes time and creative content.

Engagement is More Important Than Followers

Sure, as a creative marketing agency, we are definitely biased. But, we believe the biggest path to social media success is amazing content. And how do you know if you are creating amazing content? People are engaging with it.

That means comments, likes, messages, re-tweets, and shares. When people connect with your content, they engage with it, and that is the best indication you are on the right path.

man in dress clothes on ipad

Having 4,000 followers might feel good, but if you are only getting 10 - 20 likes per post you have to ask yourself, what is the point? Engagement is a daily performance metric that you can use to guide your content and marketing decisions.

Do certain posts get more likes than others? Follow the trends and act accordingly. Engagement is far more important than thousands of followers who aren’t in your target demographic or don’t care about your brand.

How Do You Define Social Media Success Accurately?

One of the first things most of our clients ask is how to grow their Instagram following. There are dozens of ways to do that and we’re always eager to share some tips. But we also remind our clients that who their followers are is more important than how many they have. A 1,000 followers from another country is useless. 25 new followers that live in your city and are interested in your products are far more valuable.

hand holding phone with instagram analytics pulled up

Instead of basing your monthly social media success on one single vanity metric, we recommend asking yourself these questions at the end of each month.

  • How many new followers did I gain and who are they?
  • Which posts did my followers engage with most?
  • Which posts did my followers engage with the least?
  • Did any of my posts directly link to an action taken on my page i.e. website visit?
phone with Instagram home screen pulled up

We also recommend employing some other strategies to boost your social media presence.

  • Spend 10 - 15 minutes each day engaging within your community hashtags.
  • Reach out to other like-minded businesses and suggest creative ways to partner up.
  • Consider hosting an Instagram Live feed where you share insightful tips or content that adds value to the lives of your ideal follower.

When you employ strategies that go beyond simply boosting your follower count and instead focus on connecting with others, you will reap the long-term rewards.

Did You Find This Post Helpful?

It wouldn’t be a blog post about Instagram followers if we didn’t casually suggest you give us a follow, right? But for real - check out our feed and join our audience. We would love to have you!

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