Follower growth is a necessary metric for influencers and brands on social media. Both groups want to spread their message across the social media world and reach more people tomorrow than today. It is not unusual, though, for a channel to go through a phase of follower growth stagnation at some point in its existence.

In this article, we will examine how to detect channels with follower growth stagnation by analyzing their follower numbers and explore, which reasons might lead to static follower numbers.

Oversaturation of social media platforms?

Honestly, I do not know one person who is not a member of at least one social network. And I feel like more and more of my friends start to use platforms like Instagram even more frequently lately. Research by Statista supports this theory: By 2020, there will be predictably around 2.95 billion social network users worldwide.

Social Media users worldwide

Numbers of social network users worldwide © Statista

Instagram, in particular, shows an enormous increase in monthly active users: This metric grew by almost 680% since January 2013.

Thus, the social media market does not yet seem to be oversaturated and member numbers will continue to increase for at least some more years.

Taking this research into account, one would think that the numbers reflect directly on channels on Instagram. And, in fact, most channels on Instagram show an ongoing follower growth. Nonetheless, it is not unusual for influencers to experience follower growth stagnation for different reasons.

How to detect channels with follower growth stagnation

From just looking at the follower number of an influencer, it is not possible to detect whether the influencer has a steady follower growth rate or is stuck on a growth plateau. Instagram only displays the status quo. Thus, an in-depth analysis is required.

Channels affected by stagnating follower numbers show two distinct characteristics: A shallow follower growth curve and almost unnoticeable daily follower changes. Let us have a look at some examples:

Follower Growth StagnationExample 1 of stagnant follower growth © InfluencerDB

The graphic above displays a follower growth curve of a channel with a growth of +0.1 percent during the last month. Thus, there is almost no growth of the channel. What is noticeable about this channel is the conspicuous spike in November 2016. Sudden growth spikes like this one can appear for different reasons:

The influencer might either have been mentioned by other, larger channels and was, therefore, able to gain a certain amount of followers. Or the influencer simply purchased followers at this point, which is more likely. Unfortunately for the influencer, the purchase of these fake followers did not result in an ongoing follower growth – the follower numbers decreased in the aftermath.

daily follower changes1

Daily follower changes showing stagnant follower growth © InfluencerDB

The second example shows a channel with a growth of exactly 0.0% during the last four weeks.

Follower Growth StagnationExample 2 of stagnant follower growth © InfluencerDB

This channel is mentioned by other channels from time to time as the gray columns suggest, but these mentions do obviously not have any impact on the growth of the channel. The daily follower changes support this assumption.

daily follower changes2Daily follower changes showing stagnant follower growth © InfluencerDB

As we see, it is always advisable to examine the follower numbers of a channel closely. A look the follower growth curve can help with a first assessment but should always be backed up by an analysis of the daily follower changes.

Reasons for static follower numbers

But why does follower growth stagnation even occur? After all, social media user numbers are on the rise as the statistics mentioned before show! Nonetheless, not every influencer can profit from these increasing member numbers. The reasons are manifold.

Overload of influencers

First of all, influencer marketing is still on the rise which leads to more and more influencers on social media platforms. Numerous YouTubers and their prank videos emerge out of nowhere every week. Come springtime, Instagram is flooded by professional pictures from beach vacations of every imaginable influencer and almost all of those channels I follow have done at least one promotion in the last few weeks.

The sheer amount of influencers makes it hard for individual channels to stand out from the crowd. If you are the thousandth channel in your niche, there will already be influencers with similar content ideas, which might impede your follower growth.

Rise of content quality on social media

With the number of influencers and content on social media, it is not as easy to attract attention on these platforms as it used to be. Users get so swamped with content that a blurry picture of your dog will hardly attract any attention when there are numerous high-quality and perfectly edited dog pictures out there.

Apart from the quality of the pictures, the curation of content impacts the popularity of a channel as well. With so many perfectly staged feeds on Instagram, users will notice slight incoherencies in your feed. As a visual platform, aesthetics are part of Instagram’s concept. So why would I follow someone with a chaotic feed and incoherent content when I have so many better options?

Indifference of users

This might sound blunt, but social media platforms have high amounts of members who use these networks for quite a while already. Thus, they have seen all kinds of content and get swamped with pictures and videos constantly. With time, users tend to become more and more indifferent towards social media in general, influencers and content in social networks.

I am a member of Instagram for quite a while now and with already 300 channels in my following list, I think twice about following every new channel I come across since I know that the content will get lost in my overloaded feed anyway. Not even the most carefully curated feeds catch my attention anymore because I do probably already follow someone with similar content quality.

Those users, on the other hand, who are new to Instagram and just lately started following a channel are a lot easier to please. Thus, it is important to attract new users and new followers constantly who are not yet oversaturated by your content and are still eager to engage with your channel.

Inconsistency in and overload of brand promotions

For high-quality users of social media, this might be the decisive factor not to follow an influencer. It surely can be tempting to accept every brand cooperation that comes your way, but authenticity is key!

Users will notice if an influencer promotes brands and products which do not fit the influencer’s lifestyle or if an influencer advertises one brand today and its competitor next week. A feed full of inauthentic promotions might scare off users when they visit an influencers channel for the first time and prevent them from following.


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The Takeaway

Considering the amount of influencers on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, it is hardly surprising that some of them have a hard time attracting new followers. While we mainly concentraded on influencers for this article, brands can be hit by follower growth stagnation likewise and both groups face similar challenges:

They have to keep up with the swift development of content quality, find niches which are not yet oversaturated to stay competitive, attract new followers by constantly reinventing their content ideas, all while preserving their authenticity.


This article is part of our current series which concerns follower growth on social media. This series revolves around the following topics:


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