If you’re like me, you can probably quote your follower numbers as easily as the last four digits of your SSN. On social media, followers are a key indicator of social cred – and the performance of your social media accounts. But having ten thousand or a million followers doesn’t always mean that you’re killing it on social media. What actually matters is the engagement you get from those accounts.

Here’s what to know about social media follower numbers.

More Followers Doesn’t Always Mean More Engagement

You might look at an account with tons of followers and think, man, they’re winning at this game. But the quality of those followers matters more than the quantity of those followers. If your business has 500 followers who are regularly sharing, commenting on, and buying your stuff, that’s way better than having 50,000 followers who just ignore everything you have to say. Sure, follower numbers are a metric to keep an eye on, but engagement is #1.

Inflating your Follower Number is Bad Business

If you’ve ever been tempted to “buy” followers to improve your follower numbers, save your dollarbucks for something else. Fake followers may boost your follower count, but because they’re not real humans, they won’t engage with your content in any meaningful way – which will signal to the algorithms to hide your posts from your legit followers and the explore page. A slew of clearly fake followers with spammy names can also deter real followers from following you, as it may indicate that you’re not the real deal, either! 

Don’t Play “Follow-Back” Games

We’ve all had those followers who immediately unfollow the second you follow back. (Boo!) Those people are playing “follow-back” games – and I totally don’t recommend it. While indiscriminately following everyone is a bad look that will get you penalized by the algorithms, the instant “unfollow” approach will leave a bad taste in your real followers’ mouths. Don’t be that person. Follow the people you want to follow – it’s as simple as that! 

What’s the Right Kind of Follower Ratio to Aim for?

The “ideal” follower ratio depends on your brand and your goals. If you’re a hands-on brand that engages a lot with your audience and like-minded brands, you might follow more people than if you’re an “updates only” type megastar. And if you’re just getting started, it stands to reason that you’re going to follow more people than follow you, especially if you’re investing in outbound engagement. But your ratio will evolve as your social media presence matures.  

On average, most accounts follow about one account for every two followers that they have. Strong brands (or “microinfluencers”) follow about one account for every five followers. Serious influencers may have 10+ followers for every account that they follow. The sky is the limit with these people – take Beyoncé, who has 313M followers, but doesn’t follow anyone at all. Talk about queen behavior!

Those ratio numbers are really only a problem if you follow a ton more people than follow you, although this isn’t necessarily a red flag unless those ratios (and engagement) are way off. 

If you ask me, your number of followers doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. What matters is that your existing followers engage with what you post, and that they move through the sales funnel of engagement >> conversion. If you’re doing it right and creating bold, interesting content, your followers will grow organically…and you’ll naturally end up in that “influencer” bracket!

Need some help engaging your followers?

If you want to max out your engagement, sign up for my Fan Firestarter framework, and let’s make sure that you’re creating content that your audience will love to share!