Jenn Herman
December 13, 2016

How to Find (And Reward) Your Best Instagram Followers

Instagram followers

Continuing our “Great Articles You may have missed” series. Jenn Herman, poses the question “what are the truest factors determining who your best Instagram followers are?”. Hint: Not everyone has this right!

Instagram Followers: Engagement beats Numbers

In social media, where so many people are worried about how many followers they have, I’m more interested in who my followers are and what type of followers they are. You see, there are a lot of different ways people interact with your social media profiles. They may be lurkers, they may be big brand advocates or they may be selective in the content they relate to. They may be outspoken or quiet. Perhaps they have big audiences or perhaps their audience is small. They may buy everything you have to sell or never buy a thing.

But how do you know who they are? And when it comes to Instagram, how are they interacting with your content? There are a few ways to find out who your best followers on Instagram are – and I’m gonna share them with you. But, first, I want to share why defining the term “best” is so important.

Who are your “best” Instagram Followers?

You’ll notice I said finding your “best” followers on Instagram. Because there are different versions of the word best when it comes to social media. “Best” could mean any of these things:

  • Those most engaged with your content
  • Most influential with their own reach and impact
  • Most likely to buy your products/services


As you can already assume, these things can have drastically different impacts on relationship – or they could be mutually related.

For example, someone who follows you, that has millions of followers and a lot of influence, is a good follower to have, right? But if they don’t really care about what you’re posting and don’t share that with others, are they really all that valuable to you?

And, another take could be someone who loves your imagery and likes almost every post you share. But they have no interest in actually purchasing your services or products. Of course it’s nice to have the extra like and engagement. But if they’ll never buy from you, how valuable are they to your business?

So, for all the “best” followers out there, it’s most important to know which followers are best for your goals.

If your goals are to get followers and engagement, then your definition of “best” is different than someone who is looking to grow their email list from Instagram.

Before you can go finding your best followers, you need to analyze your Instagram strategy and ensure you know what your goals are and who you would define as those most valuable followers.

Ok, how do I find these best followers?

Chances are, if you’ve been using Instagram for any length of time, you already know who some of your best followers are. You see their comments, their likes, and their @ mentions in your notifications regularly. You know who they are and may even have forged relationships with them.

This is the “old school”, obvious way to find your best followers. They engage, you respond, you know each other (even if only on Instagram), and you know their level of influence and interest in purchasing.

But there are a lot of other followers you have that don’t meet this criteria. So how do you find them?

One way is to get creative with your Instagram posts.

Ask a pertinent business or brand question to your Instagram followers. For example, I might ask my audience what blog post topics they’d like me to cover. Or let them know I’m working on a new course and ask them which topics they would deem most valuable to be included. This weeds out the casual “likers” and brings forth comments from those most likely to be my target clients.

Try asking your audience to @ mention (ie, tag) their friends in your post comments to share the tip you posted with others who would find it useful. This is a creative way to find out who your influencers are.

You could also run a contest or giveaway that requires your audience to actively participate through comments and likes. If people are willing to “win” a prize related to your business offerings, chances are they’d be interested in buying from you too. It’s also a good way to significantly boost engagement from your more casual followers, allowing them to stand out from your lists of normal engagement.

Is there a tool to help with this?

As you can see, while I love these tactics to find out who your best followers are, it still requires a lot of manual effort and interpretation for you to determine who those best followers are.

Fortunately, there is a tool out there (and it’s free!) that can help with some of this analysis. Of course, no tool is perfect, and you still need to make your own interpretations of the data, but this definitely helps.

I’ve used this tool for my own account and have shared it with numerous clients, so I want you to also check out Social Rank.

Social Rank

socialrankThis dashboard connects to your Instagram account and then analyzes your followers for you. You can sort them by different categories including Most Valuable (based on their level of influence), Most Engaged, Most Followed, and even who Social Rank deems to be your Best Followers. You can also sort based on other chronological or alphabetical criteria.

But beyond just these criteria, you can also look through your followers for ones who use certain hashtags or keywords. This is huge if you have a branded hashtag that you encourage followers to use. You may have highly engaged advocates promoting your hashtag that you didn’t even know about.

What if there’s a niche or industry hashtag that you want to target? Finding out which of your followers use that same hashtag could give you some insight on the content they like, who they are, what your competitors are doing, and more.

You can use Social Rank to sort for followers in a certain geographical location. This is awesome if you are a local based business or if you are travelling to a different location. For example, if I was going to be speaking in another city, I could search my followers to see who else is in that area. Then I could direct message them to let them know I’ll be there and invite them to the event or something else I have going on while I’m there.

There are a lot of other criteria that you can sort for, depending on your needs and goals.

I love checking this out because there are often some people on each of these lists that I hadn’t been aware of. And bringing them to my attention allows me to focus on them and developing that relationship further.

What to do with your new found knowledge

Which brings me to how you can reward your best followers on Instagram.

I mean, it’s all great to know who they are and everything. But it’s useless if don’t do anything with that knowledge. So, how do you reward them?

Again, it comes down to you and your business, but I am huge proponent for creativity!

Of course, you could regram their content (with their permission) and give them exposure on your profile. Or you could jump over to their account and throw up some likes and/ or comments on their posts.

But, if you really want to convert those best followers, you have to go a little further.

Consider sending them a direct message with a coupon code for a discount on their next purchase. Or ask them if you can send them a free sample package as a thank you. Offer them a free 15 minute consultation with you. Or offer to send them a free copy of an ebook or download you have available to share.

The key is to find ways to forge those valuable relationships with your best followers on Instagram and further your audience impact on Instagram.


Originally titled “How to Find Your Best Followers on Instagram” on, this article is republished here with permission

Lead/Featured image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

The following two tabs change content below.
Jenn Herman is a social media strategist and Instagram advocate who writes a blog focused on understanding trends in social media management. She provides tips, resources, and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies for success. Her business background includes Administration, Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing. If you would like to learn more about how to use Instagram, you can download "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Instagram" here.