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What is an Instagram Follower? Explained

Wondering what an Instagram follower is? Find out everything you need to know about Instagram followers.
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What is an Instagram Follower? Explained
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Instagram followers. What are they? Why do followers matter? If you’re new to the world of social media and have always wondered what people are talking about when they say, “I got a new follower,” you’re not alone.

Many people join the platform every day.

And with nearly 1.4 billion daily active users, you can gain a huge following on the platform.

No one has yet to hit 1 billion followers, but some of the world’s leading celebrities and sports stars do have hundreds of millions of followers.

What is an Instagram Follower?

A Instagram follower is a user who saw your post and profile and actually clicked “Follow” on your account. It sounds simple, right? But it’s actually a big deal. When someone follows you, it’s a commitment to continue seeing the content that you post.

In fact, followers are very important for creators of all kinds: individuals, business owners, singers, artists, photographers and everyone in between.

Why are Followers Important?

You know what a follower is, but what does it matter? Who cares, right? Followers are huge because:

  • A follower has chosen to see your content on their feed. When you open the Instagram app and see content from people you follow, it’s only displayed because you’re following the creator.
  • You have an immediate connection with followers, so they will see your most recent content. If you’re a business or brand, this is a touchpoint that can lead to immense sales and brand recognition.
  • Engagement from these followers is often higher, allowing you to leverage your hard work and effort to go viral. If you have 10,000 followers, you’ll have 10K immediate people who may see and engage with your content without finding it on the Explore page.

Followers are crucial for anyone who wants to be an influencer or make their social accounts into a marketing machine for their business venture. Direct connections via follows are crucial to your success online.

Of course, you’ll come across different follower types, and there are high-value and low value followers.

  • Brand followers, or people who follow brands because they’re interested in their products or services. If you follow Nike, you’re a brand follower. You’re staying up to date on the brand and what they have to offer, but you’re not expecting to connect with the brand on a deeper level.
  • Community followers, or people who follow hashtags or certain people. You may follow Jay Cutler not because of who he is, but because he represents the fitness community. You seek knowledge from him on fitness, and while he may post a handful of personal posts, most fall within the fitness community. You can also follow hashtags, but this is slightly different.
  • Fake followers, which are easy to spot. You can use a fake follower checker to identify these accounts, but they’re easy to spot because they’re often obviously fake pictures or empty profiles. These followers often follow thousands of accounts and have very little followers of their own.

You’ll also come across what people call “passive followers.” If you’ve ever been on a person’s profile often but never engage with their posts, you’re a passive follower. You’re not adding value to the person’s account, nor engaging with it.

But you do follow the person and want to see what they post in the future.

Finally, we have active followers. You want to have as many active followers as possible because these are the accounts that engage with you. Consider these followers “fans,” because they will:

  • Share your posts
  • Leave comments
  • Like your posts

A follower who is active is very serious about what you’re posting and will be an asset because they’ll help your account grow. You want to have 100% active followers, but it’s almost impossible.

How are Followers Different from Following?

Followers. Following. What’s the difference?

Followers Following
Definition The people who follow your account on Instagram. The accounts that you follow on Instagram.
Likes and comments Followers can comment and like your content. You can comment on and like the content posted by accounts you follow.
Content viewing Followers can view and interact with any type of content you create You can view and interact with any content posted by people you follow.
Account growth Followers help your account grow, especially when they engage with your content. The accounts you follow can inspire you and help you create new, unique content.
Monetization More followers give you the opportunity to generate revenue through sponsored posts, affiliate marketing and merch sales. The accounts you follow are an opportunity to connect and collaborate.

A follower and following are two different things, although they sound very similar to one another. In short:

  • Followers are the accounts who have chosen to follow you.
  • Following are the accounts that you chose to follow.

If you review the chart above, you’ll see that there’s a very distinct difference between a follower and a following.

While you can have, as far as the world knows, an unlimited number of followers, you cannot follow more than 7,500 accounts. You may also be following hashtags, such as “#savethebees,” which means that any time a person uses this hashtag, it will show up in your feed.

If you want to follow a hashtag, it’s a great way to stay in the loop on topics and trends while not having to follow dozens of accounts.

Some of the topic hashtags on Instagram that you might want to consider following are:

  • #love
  • #fashion
  • #photography

Should You Have More Followers Than Following?

Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t care if you have fewer followers than following. But from a brand- and image-building perspective, it’s generally better to have more followers than following. 


Because when you have more followers than following, it means that your content is interesting to many people in your niche. When you have a large following, it’s much easier to attract even more followers because you already have an established audience that gives you credibility.

What is the Ideal Followers vs Following Ratio?

Your follower-to-following ratio calculates how many followers you have compared to the accounts that you follow.

Let’s say that you have 100,000 followers and you follow 1,000 accounts. Your follower-to-following ratio is 100, which is relatively high. On the other hand, if you follow more accounts than you have followers, your ratio will be low.

So, what’s the ideal ratio?

  • For businesses, 10 is a good start.
  • For personal accounts, 5 will suffice.
  • For influencers and content creators, you want to aim for a ratio of 10-30.
  • For mega-influencers or celebrities, the ratio should be 30 or more.

Will Following People Help You Get More Followers?

Following other Instagram accounts is a great way to get more followers. When you follow an account, the user will get a notification. When they get that notification, there’s a good chance they will check their account and your profile.

If your content looks interesting to them, they will likely follow you back.

Many Instagram users will automatically follow people back, so this can be a great strategy for getting more followers.


An Instagram follower is a user who follows your account. They will see the content you post in their feed and will be notified when you go live. Most Instagram users want to grow their followers, especially if they are building a brand or running a business. The more followers you have, the more opportunities you have to monetize your account, grow your influence and increase your reach.

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