On the decreasing value of Instagram followers…

Instagram-Followers-hack

It seems like all any brand wants to talk about these days, is growing their Instagram follower numbers. So many are caught up in that vanity metric and are losing sight of some of the more important elements such as engagement, reach and the emergence of the platform’s awesome Ad’s platform.

If you are growing a follower base of highly engaged users who want to hear about your brand, that is great. The problem is that most of your followers aren’t even seeing your content these days as Instagram constantly adjusts its algorithm and more and more brands and users are publishing content. It is just very difficult to get your content in front of those user’s eyes.

Many experts predict that the platform is also most likely going to migrate to a real pay to play model next year, (remember, they are owned by Facebook who did the same years back) whereas you will need to pay for content to be seen by targeted audiences. As a marketer who is well versed on their ads platform, I think it is great as they are teeing up very affordable ways to target super specific audiences.

If/when this happens, your follower count will be as irrelevant as your fan count on Facebook. If your metric for success on Instagram is follower numbers then you are swimming against the tide here. You should be focused more on your ability to reach audiences with your messages, and less on aggregating that follower count number on your own account.

We are big fans of Iconosquare here at Sircle and they just released some new tools to help you delve deeper into your Instagram metrics and performance. One standout is their reachability report, which we screenshot and added below:

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This is from a client of ours with over 30,000 followers on Instagram. As you can see, about 45% of their audience is deemed “rarely reachable” or “unreachable”, meaning their content is almost never seen by almost half of their audience.  Upon deeper investigation you can see their average reach per post and average reach rate below:

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The image on the left shows the average number of people who have seen one of their posts in the last 30 days. The image on the right shows the average reach rate per post, which is the number of people who have seen the post divided by their number of followers.  Both are in the 20% neighborhood which means 1 out of every 5 followers.

For this same account, we currently average $4 CPM’s with IG Ad’s.  That means that for $24 we could hit 6000 users and those would be more targeted and valuable than their follower base, which has been collected over the past few years. Also, when we gift and/or collaborate with influencers in the 50-100K follower range, we see similar exposure too.

The bottomline is that while Instagram follower count growth feel nice, it packs much less of a value punch than most think. As brands contemplate the ROI and value of social media and start planning for Q4 and/or 2018, they might want to revisit that as a KPI or at least move it way down in the pecking order.  If it is targeted reach they are after, there are better options and they don’t even need to leave the Instagram platform.

#Facts