The difference between followers and leads on Instagram

Should you be focusing on growing your Instagram following or generating leads for your business? I am breaking down the difference between followers and leads and where you need to be focusing your attention in your online business.

Followers and leads, which should you focus on growing?

Hello! Welcome back Virtual Visionaries to another episode. I am your host Kara Cahill and today I am so excited to answer a very important question when it comes to your online business. And that question is, which is more important, leads or followers?

Now I want to step back for a minute and first answer the question of, what is a lead and what is a follower.

So a follower, I am sure you are more familiar with this, is someone who is following you on social media. This person may follow you on Instagram, maybe they are in your Facebook group, whatever social media platforms you are on, this person is following you. They have found your account, they have consumed some form of your content and they have decided that you are worth following.

When you think about your customer journey or your sales process, the first step is that someone has to first discover you, they have to learn about you in some way, probably through a piece of content that you have put out, and they have taken the first step towards learning more about you and what you do by deciding to hit the follow button.

When someone decides to follow you, they are basically saying, you are worth continuing to stay connected with. Your content is valuable enough to keep consuming. This is a big step!

Think about how many accounts you have come across that you have not followed. I am sure hundreds and hundreds right. So convincing someone that you are worth following is essentially getting that first micro-commitment in the sales process. They now know who you are and they have decided to keep watching you and keep hearing from you.

First, that is a huge first step so if you have convinced even one person out there to decide to follow you, that is amazing and you should be so proud of yourself!

The question then becomes, is getting followers enough if you are wanting to build a long-term sustainable and profitable business?

In my opinion, having followers is great, that is exciting, but unless those followers raise their hand and let you know that they are interested in what you are SELLING then just having followers isn’t enough.

That is why I believe that having LEADS is what is truly important when it comes to your online business. 

So now, let’s define what a lead is. A lead is someone who has indicated to you that they are interested in what you are selling and they are actively looking for a solution to their problem. There are a few ways that someone can become a lead, they can send you a DM saying they are interested, which, that is amazing, right?

But often, not many people just jump into your inbox and let you know that you are the person they have been searching for their whole life and that they want you to help them solve this burning problem they have.

Someone becomes a lead when they opt-in for your free resource which then interests them into your sales funnel.

When someone signs up for your free lead magnet, this is essentially them saying “Hey, I have this problem that I am interested in learning how to solve. Your free resource sounds like exactly what I need because I am struggling with this problem enough that I am now ready to begin looking for a solution”.

If you are able to get someone to click that link in your bio and give you their email address in exchange for your free resource, that is what is truly amazing and when they opt-in and join your email list, that is when I truly consider them a lead.

So followers is that first step, and then the second step is when someone opts in for your resource and that is when I consider them a lead.

And leads are what you are ultimately looking for in your business because leads are people who are essentially saying, I am actively looking for a solution to my problem and I am curious to learn more about how you can help me.

Those are the people that you want to focus on. Those are the people that are going to grow your business and want to work with you.

So personally, I am way more interested in how many leads you are generating vs how many followers you have because like I said, followers can follow you for any number of reasons and it is a relatively small ask for someone to just hit the “follow” button.

However, getting someone to actually click the link in your bio, enter their email address and actually sign up for the resource that you are sharing. That is a much bigger ask and that is going to generally be someone who is going to be much more interested in what you are selling.

So, my advice always is to focus on generating leads for your business. Always be talking about your free resources, always be telling people to click that link in your bio, always be getting people to join your email list because those are the people who are going to be a much warmer audience than your general Instagram following.

The good news is, is that growing your following, generally helps you grow your leads. 

Like I talked about before someone first has to be aware of you and your business before they can become a lead. So generally people are going to follow you on social media first and then become a lead by clicking the link in your bio and signing up for your free resource.

So followers and leads go hand in hand and many people confuse followers for leads. But remember, a lead is someone who is actively searching for a solution to their problem. When they opt-in for your free resource, that is a very strong indicator that they are looking for help and that they are taking steps to figure out how to get this problem solved.  A follower might just follow you because they like watching your reels, or for whatever number of reasons, but if they is not struggling with the problem you solve they are not going to opt-in for your free resource.

So I hope that clarifies the difference and you can start to shift your focus from just growing your following to growing a list of warm leads who are actively searching for solutions to their problems and are raising their hand to learn about the problem you solve!

This is something that I cover inside of my free masterclass, I go into the step-by-step method for how you are able to set up your Instagram sales funnel that turns followers into leads and customers for your business! You can watch the free training by heading to So head over there and send me a DM after you watch to let me know what your biggest takeaway was! I am @kara_cahill on Instagram!

Thanks so much for joining me this week, I will talk to you soon!


Come connect with me on Instagram: @kara_cahill

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Kara Cahill

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