What does Follow Ratio mean?
Follow Ratio is the number of followers compared to the number of accounts someone is following on Twitter or Instagram. It is also known as the Follower to Following Ratio, and occasionally as your Cool Ratio.
Follow Ratio is generally considered a reasonable measure of how ‘good’ an account is. This is because the most interesting Twitter or Instagram accounts will have far more people following them than they are following themselves.
Think of it this way – imagine everyone (including Oprah) followed just their family members and Oprah on Twitter. This would mean Oprah would have loads of followers, but still, only follow a few people.
Follow Ratio Definition
The Follow Ratio is simply the number of followers someone has divided by the number of people following them. A value above 1 means an account has more followers than accounts they are following. The higher the number the ‘better’.
This measure is considered necessary in that many accounts will follow lots of people, simply to get them to follow back. So if someone has 1 million followers, but follows 2 million people, then it is more likely that they have just been following people for the follow backs, rather than are actually saying anything interesting.
It is exceptionally unlikely that they are as interesting as someone who has 1 million followers but only follows 50 people anyway.
If you want to improve your Follow Ratio then you should try to be interesting, and only follow people you are interested in.
Using hashtags can expand the base of people who see your posts, which should also help.
Follow Ratio Formula
This is the Follow Ratio Equation (or the Instagram Cool Ratio Equation if you prefer).
Follow Ratio = Followers ÷ Accounts Followed
Average Follow Ratio
There is no average follow ratio. Celebrities might have a ratio of 100,000+, while non-celebrities will often have a ratio below 1. This is because Follow Ratio is basically only useful for Influencer marketing, and even then not really.
‘Normal’ people using Twitter or Instagram just for fun are quite likely to follow many accounts but only have a few followers. However, there is, of course, huge variance in this. Some people will follow thousands of accounts, and use lists to filter. Some people will follow another account as a way of publicly supporting it. Other people will only follow accounts they are exceptionally interested in.
Celebrities and influencers are the same – some will follow freely, and some will not. This makes this ratio no more than a curiosity really, and any benchmarking of it doesn’t make much sense.
A similar measure to Follow Ratio is how many followers per tweet someone has.
This is known as the Follower to Tweet ratio and works basically the same way.
What it looks like
Here is what a Follow Ratio looks like in action (and why it’s not geared to ‘normal’ people).
The method of following lots of people just to get lots of people following back used to be more prevalent. A common tactic to improve Follow Ratio used to be to follow the maximum amount of people for any one day. Next, they would automatically unfollow anyone who followed back.
This would mean it would look like you were increasing your follow ratio.
For the average Twitter user, this was a virtual nightmare. As people are notified when they get new followers, having lots of people follow you, without your follower count ever-growing (as they unfollow you so quickly) was a weird type of torment.
In recent years Twitter has cracked down on ‘aggressive following‘ and unfollowing. They have also cracked down on services which do this. Twitter has also imposed a barrier for new accounts to pass – until you have more than 5,000 followers, you can’t follow more than 5,000 accounts.
However this all still happens, but on a much smaller scale as it is all done manually. On average people still follow back about 20% of the time.
Engagement rate is a much better measure of success on social media, as it measures how much people care about your posts.