No doubt there's been a time when you've looked at another Instagram profile and thought to yourself, "how have they got so many followers?". You might look at your own number of followers after and wonder how you could make that number look more like theirs, or if you’ll ever be able to. Don't worry; we're here to help you kiss all that insecurity and doubt goodbye.
There are a few reasons your competitor could have more followers than you, and knowing what they are will help you step up and get on their level - maybe even surpass them. Now, before we get into it I want you to know that you should never compare yourself to others in a demotivating way. Remember, although they are your ‘competition’, it’s not a competition. It’s not about feeling jealousy or bitterness… it’s about using their achievements as a goal - because if they can do it so can you. And the beautiful thing about social media is there’s enough followers out there for everyone. Their success doesn’t equal your failure, and there’s enough room for everyone.
Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself when looking at your competitor's following.
Have they been on Instagram longer?
Let’s start here. If your competitor has been on Instagram for longer than you have, they've had more opportunities to share more content, attract an audience and build a following. You might think this is trivial, but the difference time makes can be absolutely huge. Let's say your competitor has been using Instagram for their brand for 2 years longer than you've used the platform for your own brand. And let's say that throughout that time, your competitor has consistently stuck to Instagram's recommendations of posting at least 4 to 7 Reels per week and photos 3 to 5 times per week.
This means that for the past 2 years, or 730 days your competition had posted at least 2,920 Reels and 2,190 photos before you even published your first Instagram post. So over the 2 years before you joined Instagram, our imaginary competitor has posted at least 5,110 pieces of content which is also 5,110 opportunities to go viral.
It's a good thing to look at a competitor who has more followers than you if they've been on Instagram longer. Because you consider them your competitor, you will have a similar audience, so their audience will likely be interested in the content you offer. It means you don't have to figure everything out from scratch. It means you can look at their Instagram page and learn what they did well and didn't do well. This way, you can tailor your content to get the most engaging and far-reaching posts out to your audience for maximum effect.
Are they more frequent and more consistent?
When it comes to gaining more followers on Instagram or on any social media platform, for that matter, consistency is always going to be the key. Before we get onto consistency, let's look at frequency for a minute. When we say frequency, we're talking about how often you post or how frequently you post. If our imaginary competitor is posting 7 Reels a week as per Instagram recommendations, and you're posting two Reels a week, they have a 250% higher Reels output than you, which is a lot if you think of how much more engagement that will bring them. How much more reach will they attract with all those Reels, and how much more followers could they get as a result?
Now let's talk about consistency. Consistency, in this case, is how well you maintain your frequency and for how long. For example, if you post 7 Reels a week but only manage to maintain this output for 4 weeks, then that's inconsistent. If, however, you post 5 Reels a week and do this for 2 years, then you've been consistent with the same frequency for two years. You'll find that the best-performing Instagram pages are the most consistent but not necessarily the highest in frequency.
Your best bet if you want to match your competitors and even gain more followers is to find a frequency that works best for your schedule and be as consistent, if not more, than your competitors. Keep your frequency similar to your competitors or at least on the lowest side of Instagram’s recommendations. If you can manage a higher frequency, then give it a go, but only if you feel you can be consistent with it. If you still need some tips on how to be more consistent, check out our blog post about it!
Is their content better than yours?
I can feel the difficulty in reading that all the way from the other side of the screen. I know it can be a hard question to ask yourself, but we've got to be honest if we want to succeed. And it's better to know the truth, right? Take a look at your competitors' content and pay attention to its quality. You'll know if it's better or not because you'll feel it. And if it is, now is your chance to take some notes. We all have people in our lives that we can learn from. Wouldn't it be a shame if there was nobody to teach us anything?
Being able to learn from a competitor, for free, with a similar audience that posts quality content, could be a blessing in disguise for your page. It's always a good idea to follow your competitors or at least keep an eye on them. Scroll through their posts and find the pieces of content that have done better than the rest (just like you do with your content). Then try to figure out why it's done so well. Did it have a great call to action? Was it engaging? Did it ask a great question or was it entertaining? Did it show their product really well and have an excellent caption? Or was it just a great example of storytelling on social media? Whatever it was, make a note of it. This way, you can learn how to recreate their results with your style, and if it worked for them, it could work for you too.
Has the right person shared their content?
Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of luck to make all the difference. Suppose your competitor has posted a Reel that's gone viral. It could be because a noteworthy individual with a large following on Instagram has shared their content. They could have done this by networking with the individual with the large following and asking them to share their post for a free sample of their product perhaps.
On the other hand, it might just be a good, informative, entertaining, high-quality content with an excellent call to action telling people to share their Reel. Remember, the more engaging your content is, the more likely it is to go viral and be shared by someone with a large following. Try to find the right person to help promote your brand on Instagram and maybe get a shoutout on their Story. Or, if you have a product, try to get them to do a review or unboxing Reel. For a bit more depth on this topic, check out our blog on how to work with influencers as a small business.
Have you seen your competitor's Instagram hashtags?
When you're looking at your competitor's content, it's always a good idea to see what hashtags they use. These could be giving their posts the extra boot in reach they need to get a few more followers than you. Remember that your competitor will have a similar audience, so you're both reaching for the same people. Try out a few of the hashtags you haven't yet used and see if they make a difference to your metrics and following. Try to keep them industry-specific and relevant to your brand.
As you may have gathered, the reasons your competitor has more followers than you can be reasonably nuanced. This isn't anything to worry about, however. The fact that you have a competitor with more followers than you means you have a secret mentor that can teach you how to do what they've done without them even knowing it. There may come a point in time when you have more followers than they do. If that happens, there's a big chance that your competitor will look at your page to see what you've done to gain more followers. That’s when you can move onto being inspired by someone else with an even bigger following! So remember, always look up, and you'll be there in no time.