Table of contents
  1. 1. What is follower number?
  2. 2. What is follower growth?
  3. 3. How to assess the follower growth using influencer marketing platform

What is follower number?

On social media such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, a follower is a social media account that agrees to subscribe to get notifications whenever another account has any new content or update. By hitting the "follow" button, a social media user gives a signal to the social media system that he or she is interested in the targeted profile. As a result, the content coming from that particular profile will automatically have a higher chance to show up on the follower's social media news feed. 

The follower number is simply the total number of followers that an account is currently having. In influencer marketing, this is also an indicator of influence power that a social media profile may have. According to a research by Statistic, a normal teenage user on Instagram usually has less than 300 followers. To become an influencer on Instagram, in most of the cases a profile should pass the threshold of 10,000 followers (so-called "micro-influencer"). Well-known celebrities usually have much higher follower number, such as Selena Gomez. The queen of Instagram is currently having more than 140 million followers and still adding approx. 80,000 more per day.

The follower number of Selena Gomez's Instagram profile © InfluencerDB free platform

 

What is follower growth?

Follower growth is the ratio showing how the follower number of a particular social media profile has developed at a point of time. This metric is calculated by measuring the number of new followers gained on a specific social media platform over a set period of time and compares that to a predetermined target. 

@Selenagomez follower growth © InfluencerDB premium software for influencer marketing

Since followers are the gold of an influencer as well as one of the key player in any influencer marketing strategy, the follower growth is an important indicator of the future potential of an influencer, especially in detecting fraudulent behavior e.g. buying followers, follow-for-follow or using follow bots. A channel with extensive growth, for example, 15% of growth each month, will quintuple per year. So an influencer with currently 300k followers and a growth of 10% will be larger in a year than a channel with currently 750k followers without any growth.

 

How to assess the follower growth using influencer marketing platform

In order to use follower growth to assess an influencer profile, it’s necessary for marketers to distinguish between Organic Growth Rate and Inorganic Growth Rate. An influencer marketing platform e.g. InfluencerDB should be able to visualize the difference between these two types of growth rate. 

Organic growth rate

This growth rate also means that an influencer attracts more followers over time with his or her content, gains more attention, and becomes more popular. For businesses, follower growth of a brand account can also be an indicator of attracting more potential customers. While searching a potential influencer, a steady organic follower growth is the key for all collaborations. A growing channel indicates that the influencer is still relevant to his or her followers, and the influencer can attract a growing interest in his or her content.
A brand would not want to work with an influencer who stops attracting followers halfway through a campaign. This is especially important for long-term cooperations, like testimonial campaigns. A stagnant growth might indicate that the content of an influencer became irrelevant for users outside of the influencer’s already existing following.

Example of organic follower growth © InfluencerDB

Inorganic growth rate

In contrast to organic growth, inorganic growth is unsteady, has signs of data manipulation and usually becomes an indicator of fake influencer. Some might argue that even it is not organic, it is still growing. However, the main concern though is that those accounts are not genuine followers who are honestly interested in the content the influencer shares. So it is unlikely that a content distributed by an influencer with fake growth is reaching your potential customers.

For detecting inorganic growth, it is helpful to analyze an account more extensively. The first indicator for purchased followers from a quantitative point of view can be a sudden follower rise or drop followed by a negative growth rate. 

Example of inorganic follower growth © InfluencerDB

Even though Instagram deleted robot accounts in September 2016, which affected the follower numbers of those accounts that had purchased fake followers beforehand, it seems likely that the influencer continued to purchase fake followers one way or the other. In January 2018, there was an investigation of The New York Times about social media’s black market which allows people to pay for followers, likes and other interaction. Thus, marketers need to pay attention to the key influencer marketing metrics such as follower growth to avoid collaborating fake influencers and save your influencer marketing budget.