Guide To Analyzing Followers Growth

Followers growth graph can seem really straight forward and intuitive – where many would associate sharp spikes and dips to “suspicious activities” immediately. While in some cases this may be true, we should not jump to conclusion too quickly. Here we provide a brief guide to properly analyze followers growth and its reasoning using a combination of tools/statistics (Popular Chips).

Warning: Lots of chart coming up!

Most common growth type

Data are taken from a variety of accounts (influencers, celebrities, brands) 

The gradual upward growth

The most common follower growth type where the account has been continuously gaining new followers over the time period. The gradual growth is one of the best indication of account’s quality; stability is also a key factor to consider should brands decide to engage an influencer.

A a comparison, the top account has a more smooth and “healthy” growth while the latter seems to encounter a few gentle bumps and dips during certain period. On one hand, the type of account (influencer, celebrity or brand) matters and following size matters, there is no one defined conclusion of the account’s authenticity from here.

The gradual fall

On the other side of the spectrum, these two graphs identify accounts who have been losing followers significantly over the stipulated time period. Intuitively, it is the direct opposite of the ideal influencer growth – a constant decrease in following would possibly suggest that the account is no longer producing content that followers are keen to explore.

Possible reasons for sudden spikes

One of the most common reason for a sudden spike in followers is the direct impact of a special event – in this example, the sudden rise in followers on 8th September is due to the official launch of Fenty Beauty line. In just two days from the launch, the account garnered a total of more than 383,000 new followers. The growth however, slowed down significantly in the following days.

The impact of such significant event (launch) can also have an effect on other accounts, in this case, the launch of @imjenim’s clothing line brought a spike of new followers to her own personal account. Any event or publicity affects followers growth in two possible ways: existing followers of @imjenim found out about her launch through her account and follower the @eggieshop IG OR followers of other influencers who found out about her new launch, likes her style and started following her.

In the past few days, we saw a sharp spike in number of followers for fashion editor @pandorasykes. While her follower growth has not been the most optimistic, before we jump into any conclusion for the spike, perhaps we could consider her recent feature (which coincides with the increase) in The Telegraph for her fashion style during the Milan Fashion Week.

Other possible reasons for sudden spikes not related to buying of fake followers (list is non exhaustive)

  • Feature of account in news site/portal, interviews with celebrities or influencers
  • Feature or re-post of Instagram images/videos on other larger accounts (eg: an influencer’s travel shot being featured in the official destination IG account)
  • Featured in brands’ official account for attending events (product launch, parties)
  • Featured in other influencers’ account when attending various events
  • Invitation to host in special events thus gaining publicity from various sources

While some of these reasons would bring in immediate followers, some of these featured post and exposure may occur some time after the actual event, thus making the impact on follower growth difficult to access.

Possible reasons for sudden dips

While sudden spikes are usually associated with positive events that increased an influencers’ publicity and exposure, sudden dips are a huge cause for concern. This is especially so for brands who may wish to engage a celebrity/influencer for endorsement and careful analysis should be conducted on their past history of audience growth.

Possible reasons for sudden dips not related to removal of fake followers (list is non exhaustive)

  • Negative news or publicity in news sites/portal
  • Unfavorable rumors or conflicts with influencers (online fights)
  • Association with other personalities who are facing negative publicity
  • Negative/irrelevant content on account that followers cannot associate with

Others special cases

In some cases, negative publicity may not necessarily result in a fall of followers. In this particular case for an influencer who was featured in the news for certain unfavorable activities (relating to sponsored products), there was in fact an increase in followers upon the news release. Afterall, bad publicity is still publicity isn’t it?

Supporting analysis

Types of followers

Using Popular Chip‘s platform, we were able to segment follower accounts into three types: male, female and generic. The platform uses face recognition technology to identify the gender of the followers through the posts/display pictures and those who fall under generic are accounts such as those of trolls, brands, meme or even spams.

One way to look at this would definitely be at the proportion/mix between the three follower types. Accounts with unusually large percentage of generic account could be a cause for concern as a genuine influencer/celebrity would most likely have a higher mix of “real human” accounts, either male or female.

Country of origin for followers

As a general rule of thumb (but not 100% definite), an influencer based in say Singapore should have most of his followers locally, if not perhaps from the region – eg: Malaysia, Indonesia. Of course, this would not be that applicable for huge celebrities with international appeal and a diverse following.

Looking at influencers alone, they are usually key opinion leaders of a specific category and region where they build their following base. So when a Singapore influencer has his top following (majority) from countries such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it may be a warning.

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Fake and inactive followers


Probably the most direct indication, Popular Chips proprietary technology is able to identify both fake bots and inactive Instagram accounts to provide an “inactive rate” (percentage of these unwanted accounts to an influencers’ total following).

This rate can then be use together with the analysis of audience growth: for example, when identifying a sudden increase in followers, cross check with the inactive rate. If the inactive rate returns to be high (30% and above), it could be suggesting the possibilities of abnormal activity that resulted in the spike.

The Next Web

All these analysis can be used in conjunction with the follower growth chart to help us determine the quality of an Instagram account. In this day and age of big data, use them wisely and avoid jumping to conclusion too quickly!

Want to find if your next Influencer has Fake Followers?

Ask us for a complimentary report

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