Instagram Clears Fake Followers…. and you look like a total loser.

Digital Marketing
Fake it ’till you make it… Just, not on Instagram.

About a week ago, Instagram announced,

“…as more people and businesses join, keeping Instagram  authentic is critical. We’re committed to doing everything possible to keep Instagram free from the fake and spammy accounts that plague many of the growing communities on the web, and that’s why we’re finishing up some important work that began earlier this year.

We’ve been deactivating spammy accounts from Instagram on an ongoing basis to improve your experience. As part of this effort, we will be deleting these accounts forever, so they will no longer be included in follower counts. This means that some accounts will see a change in their follower count. ”

 And with that, many “social” celebrities faded into oblivion. While the very concept of influencer marketing is surely not dead, the move undoubtedly left some brands utilizing insta celebs shaking their heads. Kim K may still be worth the $10,000 a tweet , despite losing  1.3 million followers in the #Instagrampurge, but many smaller influencers felt the hit on a much larger scale.

What is influencer marketing?

 In the most simple terms, influencer marketing is the use of someone with a great digital following to market your product or service.

For example:


Yes, it can get super weird. 2014-12-20 14-17-27 

On Instagram, it looks more like this:


Why is this important for your personal brand?

If you have ever had a PR agency, a friend, or a rando on the street, urge you to buy followers – this is the very reason to not. While yes, building a following is tough, grueling (the digital kind, not the lumberjack kind) of work, the result from which is genuine engagement. And as any social media marketer can tell you, genuine engagement = brand recognition, which eventually  = ROI (the physical investment, not the financial kind from buying likes).

Some Instagram accounts, like chiragchirag78 (since deleted) were boosting 3,660,468 fake followers. While I don’t know if they had scored endorsements from small companies, chances are they were promoting some type of service. After the purge, they now have 8, yes, eight, followers.

On a personal note, i’ve had a fantastic time looking at former colleagues followings that they swore were genuine, and watching them fade to oblivion. For an interactive look into who lost the most followers, check this infographic.


The PR lesson? If engagement is THE key performance indicator, you can’t fake it. Yes, big numbers create a sense of importance, but the engagement needs to follow. You may notice that despite the removal of all these spammy/fake accounts, your Insta experience should still be the same since well, they weren’t active people. And hey, if you’re beating yourself up over the loss of fake accounts, know that even Beyonce lost more than 800,000 of her 22 million followers.

Hey Twitter, you next?


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