Did you know Instagram began life as a check-in app similar to Foursquare? It’s true – the app originally started off as Burbn, a platform that allowed users to tell others where they were and post content related to their location. Users who regularly frequented Burbn found a lot of value in a photo-sharing feature the app offered, which allowed them to show each other pictures of the locations in which they were checking in. The developers of Burbn realised that this would probably make a better app feature than the check-in functionality they were currently emphasising, and thus was Instagram born; a photo-sharing app with geotagging capabilities.
Originally, Instagram was an iOS app that was released in 2010. It wasn’t actually available on Android until 2012, leaving Google’s operating system without Instagram functionality for almost two years (it launched on the App Store in October 2010 and on the Play Store in April 2012). Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, which is a pretty eye-watering amount of cash for the average person. It’s fair to say that Instagram’s stock as a worthwhile social media app is not in doubt; every single major influencer who’s worth any kind of salt has a presence on Instagram. With that in mind, then, followers on the platform are clearly a worthy currency.
Even still, you might be asking yourself the immortal question: why exactly are followers important on Instagram? The answer is perhaps more complex than you might think. Instagram is a multi-faceted and complicated platform; on the surface, its functionality is fairly simple, but it hides a huge amount of depth in terms of what’s popular and what trends at any given time. Getting followers on Instagram is the primary goal of pretty much every influencer out there. Certain services (read more) grant easy, free access to real human followers on Instagram, helping less experienced accounts to grow quickly. It’s fair to say followers are essential for building an influencer profile, but why is that?
First, it’s worth saying that if you’re not aiming to be famous – if being an influencer on Instagram isn’t a career path that particularly appeals to you – then the act of chasing followers might not seem too important. You may prefer to get just a few close-knit followers as a clique rather than trying to build your follower count up to as many people as possible. That’s completely fine; Instagram should be used in whatever way its users see fit, and there are some who believe that chasing likes and the influencer lifestyle on Instagram takes a toll on mental health. Before you think about the value of follower counts, think about whether this is something you truly want.
The first and most obvious reason that you should be chasing followers on Instagram is pretty simple: more followers mean more likes (in theory, anyway), and more likes means more cultural currency for your account. If nobody is looking at your content as an influencer, then nobody will know what you’re all about and whether or not your content is worthwhile. Having a large number of followers increases the scope of your audience, which means more people are likely to see your posts. If this is something that’s important to you – if you want to be famous on Instagram – then having many followers as a goal stands to reason.
Another reason for building a follower count on Instagram has to do with marketing. If you’re an influencer looking to make a living on the photo-sharing platform, then having a higher follower count makes you more attractive to certain brands who may wish to partner with you. A larger audience for your content means a larger potential base of customers for a business, after all. Most brands will approach influencers once they’ve amassed a certain number of followers for this very reason, so if you’re someone who cares about the amount of money that you’re making on Instagram from your content, building a follower count that’s higher than most makes sense.
Let’s say that you’re a brand on Instagram, or you’re the social media liaison for a brand. The value of having more followers should be fairly clear to you here. If you build up followers for the brand, then customers and other followers – not to mention influencers – will think your brand is more trustworthy and legitimate. More followers means more potential partnerships with influencers and other brands, which means more income for you and your brand in the long-term. Although engagement is important too, your follower count is a nice, easy shorthand for lots of brands that tells them why you’re a name to be trusted in the often unscrupulous world of social media.
Last but not least, having more followers on Instagram means more engagement with your content, which makes the platform more fun. If you’ve got a high number of followers, you’re increasing the chance that those followers will want to have conversations with you about the content you’re creating. Discussion on social media – as long as it doesn’t fall into some of the toxic traps that conversations of that nature often do – means you’re often going to get perspectives on your content that you don’t often get. Even if you’re not an influencer and you have no interest in that lifestyle, talking to other human beings and connecting with them over social media feels great.
These are just some of the reasons why followers are important on Instagram. Did we miss any? What do you think of Instagram? Let us know!