The Art of Follower Retention and Why it Matters

Jul 15, 2020

Follower growth is great, but all the growth in the world doesn’t mean anything if you lose as many followers as you gain on a regular basis. Master the art of follower retention, and sustainably grow, nurture, and convert your loyal followers with these key learnings:

  • Why follower retention is important
  • How to pinpoint when you lose followers and why
  • How to use net follower growth peaks to inform your strategy
  • The tools to help you keep your followers engaged

Why Follower Retention Matters

Follower retention matters because, to the Instagram algorithm, consistent engagement is key. Maintaining a loyal follower base (while also gaining new, like-minded followers who will consistently engage with your content over time) will help to increase and stabilize your visibility within the app, whether in feed or on the Explore Page. Visibility leads to more opportunities for engagement, which fuels more visibility and the cycle continues.

Follower growth is a key metric to defining a brand’s success on social media, and is something we know senior leadership are always keen to see on the rise. But what we’re seeing now is that the savviest brands are also using follower retention metrics to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not. That leads us into how to discern why you’re losing followers and what you can do about it.

How to Pinpoint Reasons for Follower Loss

First things first, there are many potential reasons brands lose followers and, with spam and bot accounts thankfully deactivated on a regular basis, follower loss isn’t always a bad thing. But day to day, brands losing followers want to know why—as do senior leadership. Pinpointing what content, events, or wider issues contribute to follower loss is the first step to mitigation.

why am I loosing followers

Dash Hudson provides brands with the metrics they need to uncover when follower loss occurs and why. Through filtering followers lost by the day, social media managers can look back to find the content that was posted on that day, check the engagement that content received and dig deeper into the visual elements that underperformed using Dash Hudson’s content segmentation tool, Boards.

How to Inform Strategy with Net Follower Growth Peaks

Using a similar method to pinpointing when followers are lost, brands can get a clear view of when net follower growth peaks. Net follower growth is the amount of followers you gain minus the amount you lose in a given period of time. When you’re in a state of net follower growth, it means you’re consistently gaining more followers than you’re losing, which means you’ll continue to grow.

how to identify net follower growth

Gaining new followers, keeping these new followers alongside your existing base, as well as mitigating the loss of existing followers is no small feat. It takes a deep and constantly evolving understanding of your unique audience and what appeals to them.

When looking at net follower peaks, brands can delve in to each aspect of their strategy that has driven that growth. By looking at what content was posted during a time period and the engagement rate on that content, they can start to gain an insight into what content is contributing to high engagement, high visibility, and growth. Another key element of using net follower growth to inform strategy is UGC and influencer partnerships.

Looking back to find top performing UGC—community created content that the brand was either @mentioned, photo tagged in, or both—that was posted during the time period, gives brands a more holistic view of the visual conversation happening, and how that pertains to growth. Encouraging an audience to create great content and tag the brand is a surefire way to increase your organic reach and help to grow your following. Find out how to source top-performing content in a WFH world here.

Working with influencers gives brands the opportunity to reach brand-new followers with similar tastes. Picking the right influencers to work with, whether they be macro or micro influencers is the first step. Once your partnerships are up and running, Dash Hudson’s influencer tracking tool, Relationship IQ, makes it quick and easy to see how many followers you’re gaining from your partnerships, down to the post level. This insight helps brands decide who to partner with, who to elevate from a gifting relationship to a paid partnership, and which influencers may not be the right fit.

By digging into the external factors of net follower growth peaks, you will be able to gain a better understanding of who and what types of content are producing growth.

The Other Side of Follower Loss

In recent weeks, brands have been speaking out against injustice all over the world, some of whom have experienced backlash from their followers. Many have recognized that in these situations, what is being achieved is a deeper alignment with the followers that share the same view and stick around, which in turn should lead to higher engagement and more meaningful connections in the long run.


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Elise Ngobi

Senior Brand Strategy Manager UK