What Does Mutual Mean on Instagram?

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If you‘ve spent any time on Instagram, you‘ve likely noticed the "Followed by" section on other users‘ profiles. Under a user‘s bio, you‘ll see a list of accounts they are followed by, along with a note like "Followed by Karen, Brad, + 15 others." The names listed are accounts that both you and the user follow – in other words, your mutual followers or mutuals.

But what exactly does it mean when someone is your mutual follower on Instagram? Keep reading this in-depth guide to learn all about the mutual connections feature!

A Quick Definition of Mutual Followers on Instagram

Simply put, a mutual follower on Instagram refers to any account that you and another user both follow. These mutual followers appear in the "Followed by" section on user profiles.

For example:

  • You follow Karen, Brad, and Alex
  • Another user follows Karen, Brad, and Amy
  • On both your profiles, Karen and Brad would show up under "Followed by" as mutual followers

Mutual followers indicate which of your Instagram connections are shared in common with other users. It provides an at-a-glance look at where your social circles overlap on the platform.

Now let‘s explore why Instagram displays these mutual followers and how you can use them to your advantage.

Why Instagram Shows You Mutual Followers

Instagram includes the mutual followers feature as a discovery tool for users. Seeing which accounts you have in common provides insight into shared interests, friend groups, or social identities.

There are a few key reasons why surfacing these mutual connections can be useful:

Discover New Accounts to Follow

The mutual followers section offers a simple way to uncover new, relevant Instagram users to follow. You can quickly scroll through the list of accounts you have in common with a user to find interesting people you may want to connect with.

Since they are already followers of someone in your extended network, chances are their content will appeal to you as well. It‘s an easy shortcut for Instagram to recommend accounts you‘ll like based on your existing connections.

Understand Your Connection Strength

The number of mutual followers you share with someone signals how closely linked you are within Instagram‘s social graph. Having 20+ mutuals indicates a strong connection, while just a handful of overlaps suggests a weak or non-existent social connection.

Seeing mutuals provides helpful context into someone‘s relationship to you and your shared online community. You can gauge how intertwined your social circles are at a glance.

Break the Ice and Start Conversations

Making new friends and connecting with others is a key part of the Instagram experience. Mutual followers provide a simple way to break the ice with other users.

You can mention them in a comment or send the first DM by talking about your mutual friends. Finding shared connections gets conversations started organically.

Prioritize Feed Content

Instagram‘s algorithm gives a boost to posts from accounts you share mutual followers with. So if you want to increase your chances of appearing in someone‘s feed, having a handful of mutuals goes a long way.

The app assumes that if you move in the same social circles, you‘ll probably want to see each other‘s content. A few key mutuals signals your audiences have shared interests and overlap.

Assess Engagement Opportunities

For brands, businesses, creators, and influencers, mutual followers indicate where your target audiences intersect. Having lots of mutuals with a brand means their existing audience likely fits your own audience as well.

Checking for those overlaps provides insight into where collaboration and partnership opportunities may exist based on audience similarities.

How to See Mutual Followers on Instagram

Viewing the mutual followers you share with another user only takes a couple of taps in the app:

On iPhone/Android:

  1. Navigate to the profile of the user you want to check for mutuals.

  2. Tap "Followed by [users] + X others" under their bio.

  3. This opens the list of mutual followers between you and that account.

On Desktop:

  1. Search for the user‘s profile you want to check.

  2. Click the "Followed by" section below their bio.

  3. A pop-up will appear showing the mutual followers list.

You can only see mutual followers for public profiles – private accounts will not display any mutuals unless you follow that user specifically.

Here‘s a quick look at how to view mutuals between your account, @socialmediafanpage, and another user, @awesome_ig_tips:

Easy enough! Now let‘s dive deeper into the key things you should know about mutual followers on Instagram.

5 Key Things to Know About Mutual Followers

1. Mutual Followers Are Public Information

Your full list of mutual connections with other accounts is visible to anyone who visits your Instagram profile. There is no setting to hide or block specific mutual followers from being displayed publicly.

The only exception is private accounts – users must request to follow private profiles in order to view any mutuals those accounts may have.

So if you want to keep your social circle hidden from someone, switching to a private account is the only option. For public profiles, assume your mutuals are visible!

2. The Number of Mutuals Depends on Follower Count

For extremely large accounts, Instagram caps the number of mutual followers displayed at around 100-200 accounts. This prevents excessive loading times from accounts with millions of followers.

So a mega influencer with 50 million followers likely has many more mutual connections than are shown. But smaller accounts with under 10,000 followers will display the full list.

3. Mutuals Are Sorted by Interaction

The order of mutual followers is not random. They are displayed sorted by accounts you engage with most frequently at the top.

So if you like and comment on @friend1‘s posts daily and only view @friend2‘s content occasionally, @friend1 will appear higher in your mutual followers list.

4. You Can‘t See Mutuals for Private Accounts

One of the only ways to hide your mutuals is to have a private Instagram profile. For private accounts, the mutual follower section will appear empty to anyone not approved to follow you.

So while mutual connections are public, private accounts essentially opt-out of displaying that information. If you prefer keeping your connections more private, a private profile will remove your mutuals.

5. Mutuals Change Over Time

Your mutual followers list is not static. As you follow new accounts, stop following others, and your connections are actively engaging on the platform, the accounts showing as mutual followers will shift.

Don‘t assume that a mutual connection today will remain a mutual follower permanently. Maintain active engagement with mutuals you hope to preserve.

What’s Considered a Good Number of Mutual Followers?

How many mutual followers you share with an account can vary based on the type of profile:

  • For individual users, anywhere from 10-20+ mutuals usually indicates a strong social connection on Instagram. Less than 5 mutual followers signifies a weak or non-existent connection.

  • Brands, businesses, influencers or creators may only show 1-5 mutual followers, even with their followers/customers. Their larger follower count makes high mutual overlap unlikely.

  • Verified accounts and celeb profiles tend to have their mutuals capped at 100-200 max. Don‘t expect to see all their mutuals.

  • Having at least a few mutual followers is a good baseline. 5+ mutuals signals your social circles overlap enough for engagement.

Rather than focusing on a specific number as ideal, consider mutuals in the context of connection strength and engagement potential. Even just a couple of meaningful mutuals can help forge an Instagram relationship!

How to Get More Mutual Followers on Instagram

While you can‘t directly control who shows up in your mutual followers list, you can grow your mutuals over time by:

Engaging With Your Existing Mutuals

Be sure to actively like, comment on, and save posts from your current mutuals. This helps keep you top of mind in those shared networks.

Following Friends of Your Mutuals

Check out the profiles of your current mutuals and follow interesting accounts they are connected to. This expands your shared circles.

Using Relevant Hashtags

Posting content with popular hashtags helps you be discovered by accounts that follow those topics, building more potential mutuals.

Sharing User-Generated Content

Reposting and mentioning users, especially your mutuals, can introduce you to new followers with overlapping interests.

Collaborating With Other Accounts

Partnering on content with other creators naturally merges your audiences and expands mutual connections.

Hosting Contests and Giveaways

Reward users for tagging friends/mutuals to help expand your brand‘s network and interlink your communities.

Done consistently over time, being an active member of Instagram through authentic relationship-building will grow your mutuals.

Why You Should Care About Your Mutual Followers

While mutual connections should not be your sole focus on Instagram, paying attention to them can be beneficial:

They Signal a Stronger Connection

More mutual followers typically indicates you share tighter social ties and overlapping interests with another user.

Improve Your Visibility

Having mutuals gives your content a subtle boost from Instagram‘s algorithm in those accounts‘ feeds. A few key mutuals goes a long way!

Find Relevant Followers

Mutuals provide a pre-filtered list of accounts likely to engage with you based on common interests.

Icebreaker for Communication

Mentioning mutual connections gets conversations started easily by highlighting commonalities upfront.

Assess Partnership Potential

Seeing you share an audience with a brand or influencer suggests collaboration opportunities.

Map Your Social Graph

Mutuals give an at-a-glance view of your social connections on Instagram. Notice who overlaps across your networks.

While not make-or-break, mutuals provide helpful context clues into your embeddedness within Instagram‘s community.

Expert Tips for Leveraging Your Mutual Followers

Here are some pro tips for making the most of your mutuals on Instagram:

Turn Mutuals Into Strong Connections

Don‘t just follow mutuals – actively engage with them by commenting, liking posts early, and responding to stories. Strengthen those shared ties.

Carefully Evaluate Suggested Accounts

Before following a suggested mutual account, review their content and aesthetic to ensure it aligns with your brand and interests.

Mention Mutuals in Your Captions

Writing something like "Shoutout to my friends @mutual1 and @mutual2!" linking back to connections makes them feel valued.

Share User-Generated Content from Mutuals

Reposting and sharing content created by your mutuals introduces your brand to their community.

Create Playlists of Your Mutuals‘ Content

Use LinkinBio tools to curate playlists of content from mutual accounts to showcase their work to your audience.

Collaborate on Content Campaigns

Work together with your top mutuals to co-create content and cross-promote each other for bigger reach.

Give Sneak Peeks to Loyal Mutuals

Reward your close mutual followers by giving them exclusive behind-the-scenes content or first access to launches.

Smartly leveraging your mutual connections can lead to huge growth, engagement, and relationship-building opportunities on Instagram.

FAQs About Mutual Followers on Instagram

Can someone see your mutual followers if you have a private account?

No, only public accounts display mutual followers. Private accounts do not show any mutual connections unless you approve a follower request from that user.

Why don‘t big celeb accounts show all their mutuals?

Accounts with very large followings have their mutuals list capped at around 100-200 accounts maximum. This prevents Instagram from bogging down trying to load millions of mutuals.

Are mutual followers notified when you view them?

No, profiles are not notified when you view their mutual followers list or click into individual mutual accounts. It‘s completely invisible from the other user‘s end.

Can you sort mutual followers in a different order?

There is no option to manually reorder or sort mutual followers yourself right now. They are automatically ranked based on your interaction, with accounts you engage with most appearing first.

Does having lots of mutual followers slow down Instagram?

Having any number of mutual followers will not affect your Instagram loading speeds or performance. The app is designed to handle large mutual networks for accounts with many followers.

The Takeaway on Mutual Followers

While mutual connections are not necessarily the most important metric, checking them can provide helpful insight into your visibility and embeddedness on Instagram.

The key is to focus on building genuine connections and relationships with new mutuals, rather than just chasing arbitrary mutual follower counts.

With some consistency and relationship-focused effort, leveraging mutuals can become a valuable growth tactic for your brand‘s Instagram presence.

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Written by Vincent NG

I’m a social media marketer, particularly for Pinterest, It all started back in 2010 when Pinterest was in beta. It was the fastest independent website to get 10 million unique visitors in the U.S. This really struck a chord with me, and it was then that I knew that Pinterest was going to be a powerhouse in the world of digital and social media marketing.