Social media has revolutionized the way we connect and interact with others, and Instagram is no exception. With over a billion active users, Instagram has become a powerful tool for personal and professional branding, networking, and socializing.
As an Instagram user, you may have noticed the ebb and flow of followers over time – also known as Instagram follow and unfollow. Some days, you may see a sudden surge of new followers, while other days you may lose several followers in one fell swoop. In this article, we will delve into the psychology of Instagram followers, exploring why people follow and unfollow and what this means for your social media presence.
Why Do People Follow?
There are several reasons people may follow on Instagram. Let’s explore:
1. Need for social connection and belonging
Humans have an inherent need for social connection and a sense of belonging. Social media platforms like Instagram provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with others who share similar interests, values, and beliefs. Following others on Instagram can create a sense of community and provide a feeling of belonging.
2. Interest in content
People often follow others on Instagram because they find their content interesting and engaging. This could be anything from fashion, food, travel, fitness, or other niche interests. If you want to engage a specific audience in your content you can simply send an invitation template to them. When individuals come across accounts that align with their interests, they are more likely to follow them for a regular dose of content related to those interests.
3. Aspiration and inspiration
Instagram is also a platform for inspiration and motivation. Individuals may follow others who they aspire to be like or who inspire them to achieve their goals. This could be influencers, celebrities, or even friends and family members who are achieving something they aspire to.
4. Entertaining or informative content
People also follow others on Instagram for entertainment or informative content. This could be anything from funny memes, engaging stories, or informative posts about a particular topic. When individuals come across accounts that provide them with enjoyable or informative content, they are more likely to follow them for a consistent stream of such content.
Finally, people may follow others on Instagram simply out of curiosity. This could be accounts that are unique, controversial, or unusual in some way. When individuals come across accounts that pique their curiosity, they may follow them to satisfy their interest or to see what else they may have to offer.
Why Do People Unfollow?
Just as there are many reasons why people follow others on Instagram, there are also many reasons why people may choose to unfollow. The most common reason is simply a lack of interest or boredom. If someone’s content no longer resonates with you, or if they post too frequently and clutter your feed, you may choose to unfollow to keep your feed focused and relevant.
Other reasons people may unfollow include off-putting behavior or content, such as political views or offensive language, a change in personal interests or beliefs, or too much promotional content. When people feel that the content or behavior of someone they follow no longer aligns with their values or preferences, they may decide to unfollow as a means of self-expression or to protect their own online reputation. Let’s explore a few more reasons why people unfollow on Instagram.
1. Irrelevant or uninteresting content
One of the primary reasons people unfollow on Instagram is because the content is not relevant or interesting to them. People follow others because they want to see content that is relevant to their interests or aligns with their values. If the content is not engaging or valuable, people will lose interest and eventually unfollow.
2. Inconsistent posting or lack of engagement
Another reason why people unfollow on Instagram is because of inconsistent posting or lack of engagement. Instagram is a platform that relies on consistent engagement, and users expect their favorite accounts to post content regularly. If an account does not post regularly or fails to engage with its followers, people are more likely to unfollow.
3. Poor quality content or aesthetics
Instagram is a visual platform, and users expect to see high-quality content that is visually appealing. If the content or aesthetics of an account do not meet users’ expectations, they are less likely to follow the account or may eventually unfollow it. This is especially true for accounts that are trying to promote a product or service.
4. Overwhelming or excessive posting
While consistent posting is important, it is equally important not to post too much. Accounts that post too frequently or post content that is overwhelming or spammy can quickly lose followers. People want to see quality content that is engaging and relevant, not a constant stream of irrelevant or low-quality content.
5. Personal or moral conflicts
Finally, people may unfollow an account due to personal or moral conflicts. For example, if an account posts content that conflicts with a user’s beliefs or values, they may unfollow it. This could include political or social issues or controversial topics. Similarly, if an account owner behaves in a way that is offensive or disrespectful, users may choose to unfollow them.
The Role of Emotions in Instagram Follow and Unfollow
Emotions play a significant role in our decision-making, including who we choose to follow and unfollow on Instagram. Positive emotions such as joy, inspiration, and excitement can be a powerful motivators for following someone, while negative emotions such as annoyance, frustration, or disappointment can lead to unfollowing.
For example, if someone posts a heartwarming story or a stunning photograph, you may feel an emotional connection and decide to follow them to see more of their content. On the other hand, if someone posts overly negative or critical content, or if they engage in online arguments or drama, you may feel frustrated or annoyed and choose to unfollow them.
The Impact of Social Comparison and Self-esteem on Following
Another important factor in the psychology of Instagram followers is a social comparison and self-esteem. People may follow or unfollow others based on their own perceived social status, both in terms of their follower count and the content they post.
For example, if someone sees that a popular influencer has many followers and is constantly posting luxurious travel photos or designer clothing, they may feel a sense of envy or desire to achieve the same status. Alternatively, if someone sees that a friend or acquaintance has a large following and is constantly posting attractive photos, they may feel pressure to keep up with their own online appearance to appear equally attractive and popular.
These comparisons can also influence who people choose to follow or unfollow. For example, if someone is trying to increase their own follower count, they may follow popular influencers or celebrities in the hopes of gaining more followers through association. Alternatively, if someone feels insecure about their online presence, they may unfollow accounts that make them feel inadequate or left out.
How to Use the Psychology of Instagram Followers to Your Advantage
Now that we’ve explored some key factors that influence the decision to follow or unfollow on Instagram, let’s consider how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
1. Appeal to Emotions
One of the most effective ways to engage with your Instagram followers is by tapping into their emotions. People are more likely to connect with content that evokes a strong emotional response. This can include feelings of joy, sadness, excitement, or nostalgia. To create emotive content, use language and imagery that is relatable to your audience. Share stories that are personal and authentic to create a genuine connection with your followers. Consider using humor or inspiring quotes to help uplift your followers’ spirits.
Example: Suppose you run a bakery on Instagram. You can post pictures of freshly baked cakes and pastries, but to appeal to emotions, you could also post pictures of happy customers enjoying your products or share stories about the inspiration behind your recipes. For example, you could share a post about how your grandmother’s apple pie recipe inspired you to start your bakery. This personal touch can help you connect with your followers on an emotional level.
2. Create FOMO
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a powerful motivator that can be used to your advantage on Instagram. To create FOMO, share content that creates a sense of urgency or exclusivity. This can include limited-time promotions, sneak peeks of upcoming products, or behind-the-scenes content that is only available to your followers. Use Instagram stories or live videos to showcase these exclusive moments, and encourage your followers to act quickly to avoid missing out.
Example: Suppose you sell fashion items on Instagram. To create FOMO, you could launch a limited-time offer, such as a flash sale, and promote it using Instagram stories. You can also create a sense of exclusivity by offering early access to new collections or products to your followers. For example, you could share a sneak peek of a new collection and encourage your followers to sign up for your newsletter to get first dibs on the collection when it launches.
3. Use Social Proof
Social proof is the idea that people are more likely to do something if they see others doing it. To use social proof on Instagram, share customer reviews, testimonials, or user-generated content that showcases your brand‘s value and trustworthiness. This can help build credibility with your followers and encourage them to engage with your content or purchase your products. You can also use influencer marketing to leverage the social proof of popular influencers to promote your brand.
Example: Suppose you sell skincare products on Instagram. You could share before-and-after pictures of satisfied customers who have used your products, along with their testimonials. You can also repost user-generated content of customers using your products and sharing their experiences. This type of content can help build trust with your followers and encourage them to try your products.
4. Keep it Authentic
Authenticity is crucial on Instagram, especially when it comes to building trust with your followers. To remain authentic, share personal stories, experiences, and struggles that relate to your brand. This can help create a more human connection with your followers and make them more likely to engage with your content. Avoid using overly staged or edited photos, and use natural language in your captions to create a more relatable tone.
Example: Suppose you run a fitness studio on Instagram. To remain authentic, you can share stories about your personal fitness journey, the struggles you faced, and how you overcame them. You can also post pictures of your trainers in action and share their stories about how they got into fitness. By doing so, you can create a more human connection with your followers, making them more likely to engage with your content and trust your brand.
5. Encourage Engagement
Instagram’s algorithm rewards content that generates engagement, so it’s important to encourage your followers to engage with your posts. This can include asking questions, running polls, or creating interactive content that encourages your followers to participate. Respond to comments and messages promptly to create a two-way conversation with your followers.
That is why communication with your audience is so important You can also use Instagram’s features such as the “Swipe Up” function in stories or the “Link in Bio” feature to drive traffic to your website or other social media platforms.
Example: Suppose you run a pet store on Instagram. You can encourage engagement by posting pictures of pets and asking your followers to share pictures of their own pets. You can also run polls asking your followers to vote on their favorite pet-related products or ask them to tag friends who are pet lovers. By doing so, you can create a community of pet lovers on Instagram, encouraging them to engage with your content and share it with their own followers.
Finally, using emotional appeals and social proof can be a powerful way to attract and retain followers. Highlighting positive emotions, such as joy, inspiration, and excitement, in your content can help people feel more connected and engaged with your brand or personal profile. Additionally, using social proof, such as highlighting your follower count or positive feedback from other users, can help build credibility and encourage more people to follow you.
Brands that Have Successfully Utilized the Psychology of Instagram Followers
Several brands have successfully leveraged the psychology of Instagram followers to grow their audience and increase engagement. Here are three examples:
Glossier is a beauty brand that has become famous for its Instagram marketing strategy. Glossier’s Instagram feed is a curated blend of user-generated content, product shots, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the brand’s creative process.
Glossier has also leveraged the power of social proof by showcasing customer reviews and testimonials on its Instagram page. By using relatable, aspirational imagery and creating a sense of exclusivity around its products, Glossier has built a loyal following of over 2.7 million Instagram followers.
Nike is another brand that has effectively leveraged Instagram to build engagement and increase visibility. Nike’s Instagram feed is a blend of inspirational athlete stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the brand’s creative process, and product shots.
Nike has also created a sense of exclusivity around its brand by collaborating with high-profile athletes and influencers and promoting limited-edition products. By tapping into its customers’ desire for social validation and its followers’ love of inspirational content, Nike has amassed over 247 million Instagram followers.
3: Fashion Nova
Fashion Nova is a clothing brand that has become famous for its Instagram marketing strategy. Fashion Nova’s Instagram feed is a blend of user-generated content, product shots, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the brand’s creative process.
Fashion Nova has also leveraged the power of FOMO by promoting limited-edition collections and exclusive collaborations. By creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity around its products, Fashion Nova has built a loyal following of over 21.4 million Instagram followers.
In conclusion, understanding the psychology of Instagram users and leveraging this knowledge to create engaging profiles, visually appealing content, and exclusive promotions can help businesses and individuals build a loyal following and increase engagement on the platform.
By studying successful brands like Glossier, Nike, and Fashion Nova, we can learn valuable insights into what works on Instagram and how to effectively engage with followers.
Final Thoughts on Instagram Follow and Unfollow Practices
Understanding the psychology of Instagram followers is key to building a successful online presence. Whether you are a brand, influencer, or individual user, it’s important to consider what motivates people to follow and unfollow and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
By crafting engaging content, being mindful of your online behavior, and using emotional appeals and social proof, you can attract and retain followers and build a strong and positive online community.