Instagram’s Crackdown on Fake Followers

We have been talking about fake social followers for some time. Last year, we called out platforms like Instagram and Twitter for shirking responsibility and not playing their part to clean up their platforms (you can read that article here). And it now seems that Instagram are in the process of answering our call.

 Instagram’s recent announcement that they are cracking down on paid-for likes and followers in the near future is welcome news for all, particularly consumers and advertisers whose faith desperately needs restoring in the legitimacy of Instagram’s most influential users.

 With the use of AI, Instagram will begin removing inauthentic likes, comments and follows by accounts that they believe to be using third-party apps to boost engagement and following. In short, what this means is that you’ll now start to see genuine engagement on Instagram, rather than your brand being at risk of paying for ghost accounts on the platform.

 We work tirelessly with our clients to ensure resources are devoting time to vet all our influencers, thus ensuring that brands will gain a positive return on investment by collaborating with those who are aligned from a brand archetypal perspective and are being used for the right jobs.

 It is a massive step up for Instagram, who are protecting integrity by creating the most functionally transparent platform possible, just like they did with the “Brand Partnership” tag. Instagram are rapidly developing a reputation for themselves as frontrunners in the social media platform game; from their Stories function that challenges Snapchat, to IGTV that has a future as YouTube’s rival, to this; amongst a world of fake news, their conscious steps towards transparency are unlikely to go unnoticed. It’s about actively seeking authenticity, instead of rolling with industry trends.

 Fake followers have been much talked about by both brands and influencers, both of whom are worried about the impact that it will have on Instagram’s longevity as people’s go-to platform to keep up to date with influencer activity.

 So – it makes sense that the influencers who we develop relationships with inevitably mirror our views. Sally Fazeli, lifestyle and fashion influencer, has blocked over 25,000 fake followers in her time on Instagram. She talks more about her experience here, but her stance is symptomatic of the growing feeling of frustration amongst genuine influencers. Most significantly, it shows that there are still influencers out there who care about the authenticity of their engagement and followers, and that their pages remain a genuine community for like-minded people, rather than becoming a cash cow for a quick buck.

 Even though Sally has tens of thousands less followers due to her morals, the result is a significantly more authentic page. Which is far more valuable. Influencers, to us, are more than their numbers. They are people. That’s why their followers listen to their opinions, why they buy products that influencers recommend. By treating influencers as people and investing time (and time is money!) into those relationships, we are able to intuitively differentiate between those who genuinely care about their followers and their online image, and those who don’t.

 Our use of archetypes to inform our approach to partnering the right brands with the right influencers consolidates the ‘human’ approach towards influencers. Our bespoke archetypal characters represent fundamental human needs and desires – this allows us to not only accurately identify the quintessential customer of the brand, but in applying these archetypes, we ensure that the influencer is as human as possible. And so, in turn, their audience tend to be human too.

 Of course, our approach towards influencers is consolidated by data – another of our core elements. Each influencer in our database is thoroughly vetted through the use of software like Social Chain’s Like-Wise, which in itself contributed massively to the slew of negative online attention that Instagram has recently received for the spike in inauthentic profiles and resulting engagements.

 The conclusion? Cleaning up Instagram has to be a collaborative effort between influencers, brands who choose where they put their money, and the platform itself. It is in the interest of all parties to ensure that Instagram remains a place that is as transparent as possible for its consumers, so that they feel respected rather than duped. They are, after all, the driving force behind the success of all aspects of the industry in which we work. There will, as with all industries, inevitably be individuals who are insincere and care little for their customers – but the only way to weed them out is to pursue a space for those who are sincere and, in turn, curate an audience who is responsive and reactive.