What Does Followers and Following Mean On Instagram

What Does Followers and Following Mean On Instagram? 

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By Social Guidee

The first thing you notice when you open your Instagram profile is the total number of followers vs following. These numbers show the impact and success of your role as a content creator. Followers refer to the people who follow you to see your posts and engage with your content. Meanwhile, Following represents the accounts you’ve decided to follow to keep your feed filled with their updated content.

In my experience of nurturing my Instagram presence, it’s become clear that focusing on the followers number is right, but keeping an eye on who you’re following is equally important for growing your account. The Instagram followers to following ratio is important to understand as it explains a lot about your engagement level.

As I post, learn, and evolve on the platform, I’ve picked up tips to maintain a healthy balance between followers and following ratio, ever since I started. This balance is crucial not just for aesthetic appeal but for showcasing your account as well-engaged and selectively curated, which in the end, contributes significantly to your social media success.

What Does Followers and Following Mean

Defining the terms Followers and Following on Instagram is crucial; Followers are those who see your content, while Following are the accounts you’ve chosen to see updates from, essential basics for new users mastering the platform’s huge learning curve.

What Is An Instagram Follower?

In the realm of Instagram, followers are essentially users who decide to follow your profile. This choice allows them to see your posts appear in their feed, enjoy your Instagram stories, and reach out through direct messages. Whether your account stands as private or open to the public, these people form the backbone of your digital audience, interacting with the content you put forth.

From my journey on the platform, I’ve realized the significance of each follower. They’re not just numbers; they’re individuals who resonate with your expression, driving the essence of community and connection in the digital sphere.

Followers on Instagram can be different types:

  • Active followers: These individuals actively like, comment, and share your posts, showing genuine interest in your content. They are considered true and loyal followers.
  • Passive followers: They follow your profile but may hesitate to openly engage with your content, often observing from the sidelines without much direct interaction.
  • Fake followers: Typically bots or spamming accounts on Instagram, these followers add to your follower count but do not contribute meaningful engagement or interaction.
  • Brand followers: Users interested in the brands, products, or services you mention or promote, keen on staying updated with the latest offerings and insights.
  • Community followers: People united by a common interest or community, such as cosplayers, who follow you because of the shared enthusiasm for cosplaying or other niche hobbies.

Why Do People Follow Me? 

When someone follows you on Instagram, they’re expressing interest in your content, whether it’s aspects of your personal life, your hobbies, or your business. These followers become your audience—one you build, nurture, and engage with through posts, likes, comments, and shares. For instance, if you post a photo from a recent vacation, you’ll likely see your audience react and engage.

To gain more followers, you might tag your posts or use relevant hashtags to be discovered by new people. This strategy has personally helped me connect with individuals who share similar interests or who find value in the content I produce, fostering a community around shared experiences or mutual business interests.

What Is An Instagram Following?

Your Following on Instagram is a list of users you follow, ensuring their posts appear in your feed for easy access and view. This list can include anyone from personal friends to celebrities or brands whose content you find engaging. By following a profile, you also gain the ability to direct message them, though they must approve the message before responding.

My experience on Instagram has taught me that curating this list carefully can greatly enhance your daily feed with content that genuinely interests you, making every scroll through Instagram a more personalized and engaging experience.

There are four types of following on Instagram:

  • One-way following: This happens when you follow someone who doesn’t follow back, indicating a unilateral interest in the content they share.
  • Mutual following: Both parties follow each other, showcasing a reciprocal interest and often indicating a personal connection or mutual respect.
  • Selective following: Characterized by following only a few accounts despite having many followers, this approach is often adopted by those focusing on curated content that aligns with specific interests or values.
  • Mass following: Involves following many accounts quickly, usually to garner attention or follow backs, often used by those looking to rapidly expand their network or stay updated with broad interests and trends.

Who Can I Follow? 

On Instagram, you can follow a diverse range of accounts, from friends and family to celebrities, influencers, brands, artists, and musicians. Essentially, any account that aligns with your interests or inspires you is a candidate for your following list. This platform is ideal for checking out and following those whose content resonates with you, allowing you to discover new accounts that spark your interest.

My journey on Instagram has been enriched by following a mix of close contacts and public figures, each adding a unique flavor to my daily feed, demonstrating the platform’s power to connect diverse interests and communities.

Maintaining Follower And Following Ratio

Comparing the number of users you’re following to your follower count yields the follower/following ratio, a metric often used for comparing and judging the quality of an Instagram account. An account that follows a lot of people but has few followers might be perceived as low-quality or a fake account. Conversely, an even ratio between followers and following numbers is seen as normal.

However, users with way more followers than they are following are often viewed as good or great accounts, including celebrities and Instagram influencers. My own strategy revolves around maintaining a balanced ratio, reflecting both engagement with my community and my interests, which I’ve found crucial in building a genuine and interactive audience.

When Is Follower/Following Ratio Important? 

The Follower and Following Ratio becomes particularly important when managing personal accounts or those belonging to celebrities, Instagram influencers, business companies, and brands. For personal accounts, staying familiar with the owner and maintaining a limited number of people to follow helps to remain connected and keep the communication channel open with friends and family members.

On the other hand, for public figures and organizations, this ratio is critical to disseminate information effectively and is often seen as a measure of credibility and reach. My own experience underscores the balance needed to not upset the equilibrium between following and followers, ensuring my account remains accessible yet focused, whether for personal connectivity or professional tasks.

More Followers Doesn’t Always Mean More Engagement

At a look, an account with tons of followers might think it’s winning the game, but the quality of followers often matters more than quantity, especially for a business. Those actively sharing, commenting, or buying your stuff are far better than a high follower count.

It’s wise to ignore mere follower numbers as a sole metric and keep an eye on engagement instead, which is #1 in determining the health and impact of your online presence. From personal experience, this approach shifts focus towards cultivating meaningful interactions, which are the true hallmark of social media success.

FAQs ( Frequently Asked Questions )

What is the difference between followers and following on Instagram?

An Instagram follower is a user who chooses to follow your account, enabling them to see, like, and comment on your posts. On the flip side, your Following list consists of users you’ve decided to follow on Instagram, whose posts then appear in your feed. This fundamental distinction shapes your experience on the platform, impacting how you interact and engage with content.

Is it better to have less following than followers on Instagram? 

For an influencer, having a following count that is more than the number of accounts you follow can sometimes be seen as a major red flag. It often suggests the use of the follow-unfollow tactic rather than creating compelling content to organically gain followers. A solid Instagram follower-to-following ratio, such as 3:1, indicates healthy engagement and genuine interest from the audience.

What should be more followers or following? 

On Instagram, average accounts often have a following ratio of one account for every two followers. In contrast, strong brands and microinfluencers typically follow one account for every five followers, indicating a higher level of influence. Serious influencers aim for a more pronounced disparity, with 10+ followers for every account they choose to follow, showcasing their vast reach and selective interaction on the platform.

Should I follow back all my followers? 

No, you shouldn’t automatically follow back all your followers. Prioritize following accounts that are relevant and active, avoiding fake ones and bots. This strategy helps build genuine relationships and encourages more meaningful interaction, enhancing the overall quality of your Instagram engagement.

How does Instagram order followers and following? 

Instagram’s algorithm arranges your followers vs following list based on factors like activity and relevance. When you interact more often with an account, it tends to move higher up your list, signaling its importance in your social media routine. Conversely, if an account you follow gets inactive or you cease engaging with it, it will lower in your list.


In conclusion, understanding followers and following on Instagram reveals much about social dynamics and personal branding on the platform. Followers represent your audience, people who choose to see your content and interact with it, whereas following refers to the accounts you’re interested in, shaping your Instagram experience. The balance between these two, influenced by Instagram’s algorithm, determines not only the content you see but also the engagement level of your profile. This interplay is crucial for anyone looking to grow their presence, engage with a community, or even just enjoy a curated feed of content that resonates with their interests.

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