Instagram Purge: Is saying bye to fake followers enough?

instagram purge implications

Industry experts churn out Instagram purge implications – the impact on costing, the rise of nano and micro influencers, and more

pranay swarup
Pranay Swarup, Co-Founder and CEO, Chtrbox

This clean-up wave can be attributed to the increasing focus for leading social media platforms, that have been under the spotlight for data privacy and security, on keeping their platforms spam free and user-centric. And it was about time! shares Pranay Swarup, Co-Founder and CEO, Chtrbox. Social media platforms have been actively deleting fake users and bots from their system to ensure that their platforms have real users. Instagram has been trying to take down fake accounts since at least 2014, but this is the first time that it’s been so widely discussed.

A quick Google search on ‘Instagram Fake Followers’ gives an insight into the grey world that has been thriving. Focussing on the issue of fake influencers, an Instagram account, Diet Influencer has surfaced. The account claims to have access to a premium membership of analytics tool, SocialBlade, helping them spot account with fake influencers.

sanjay vasudevaSanjay Vasudeva, Founder & CEO, Buzzone highlights it all started with Twitter initially purging fake followers on its platform, now with Instagram becoming one of the fastest growing platforms for the influencers to explore, it has led to the development of third-party applications which enable people to buy fake followers in order to fall under the category of an influencer. Purging such accounts will bring transparency and increase brand reliability on social media platforms,

Mitchelle Rozario Jansen, Regional Head – Operations (West), WATConsult

in turn, redefining the influencer industry.

Authenticity on social media is the need of the hour and Mitchelle Rozario Jansen, Regional Head – Operations (West), WATConsult seconds it. “The need for relevance. The need for Quality over Quantity. It’s not just the number of followers that matter today, it’s the depth of these followers. It’s the quality of the reach & engagement that matters.”

Impact on influencer community and brands

Instagram is playing host to millions of influencers and brand ambassador relationships bringing in the attention of 70.7% of businesses on the platform. 


parampara patil
Parampara Patil

Influencers who believe in organic growth of their profiles have welcomed the newest update. Parampara Patil Hashmi of Awara Diaries shares that it was long due and Instagram should’ve taken this step a lot sooner. The influencer community has superficially grown over the years thanks to these third-party apps and creating an illusion of the number game. Real engagement was missing.”

Meanwhile, Swarup noted that those buying likes are not influencers as they lack influence. They are social media users with a high following. Real influencers have always had influence because of their content and relevance to a category, they are KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) to the real people who follow them. 

The purging will surely suppliment transperancy. I have been blogging for past four years and have seen the focus and demands changing from quality to quantity to higher quantity and now hopefully back to quality invariably. The refinement will make competition healthy,” said Sejal Jain, Fashion, lifestyle and travel blogger, Glamprotocol.

Lakshmi Sharath
Lakshmi Sharath

However, for Lakshmi Sharath, a travel blogger the wave hasn’t hit much. For her, it has been a very slow and steady rise in terms of following. “My engagement has slowly increased although it fluctuates a bit. Personally, for me I don’t see an impact but I think it’s good for the platform.”

This cleansing exercise also brings about the focus to nano-influencers and niche influencers who might not have the huge followership or engagement that cyber celebs offered, but will be far more relevant to the brands and the TG they would want to target. “This will bring about far more transparency for the brands in terms of ROI and they can clearly invest where they see benefits. It opens doors for many niche quality influencers and a far more interesting community building on the platform,” believes  Aakriti Sinha, Director-Social Media, Isobar.

Ranveer Allahbadia
Ranveer Allahbadia, Founder, BeerBiceps

Accepting the move as a positive one Ranveer Allahbadia, Founder, BeerBiceps mentions that brands are going to create their campaigns more intelligently. It’s also good for everyone who has stuck to the organic process of building the following through content.

“In these three years, I always thought to myself that why do brands go to a lot of older bloggers who comprise of fake followers. Now Instagram is doing that for us.”

Will the costing get affected?

With the dip in user count and data authenticity, the question which arises is that of cost and budgets seeing any impact.  Vasudeva noted, “Logically with the purging of fake followers should bring the follower count and hence the cost per post of the influencers. Budgets for Influencer Marketing Campaigns might not have an impact since such an initiative assures that the money is invested only on authentic influencers. However there can be a considerable amount of shift in how the budget should be allocated more effectively. Only impacts Influencer’s cost..not much impact we have seen on Influencer Marketing budget in the client Digital Media mix.”

Aakriti Sinha, Director-Social Media, Isobar

Echoing similar views, Sinha does see an opening of newer avenues and a flexible costing structure for the nano-influencers and the brands. The brands then don’t need to follow a rate-card per se for a post or story. The newer content formats and the niche influencers give brands a chance for asset building and the brands can have an upper-hand in the costing discussion, depending they want to go for merchandise offerings etc. in return for social media content creation.

According to Jansen, costings will mostly now be on the basis of the actual engagement and not really the deliverables or the follower count.

Allahbadia sterns that someone who has actually built a 200k strong organic following should be charging more money than just Rs 10k for a post. What is going to happen is that people who have organic following are going to value themselves correctly and put those values out there. 

manoj gupta
Manoj Gupta, CEO and Co-founder, Craftsvilla

For Craftsvilla, Influencer marketing has grown leaps and bounds in the past year. The budget varies from campaign to campaign, However, on an average, it is around 30% of the total campaign budget. “While followers are important, as a brand we have always given more prominence to the content and engagement created by the influencers. And this will continue to be our focus,” shares Manoj Gupta, CEO and Co-founder, Craftsvilla.

Also Read: Instagram to eliminate fake followers

When Craftsvilla invests in influencers, there are 3 aspects taken into consideration- relevance to the brand (category/content), engagement and followers. While the number of followers is important, engagement trumps the list of metrics it tracks while partnering with influencers. Purging of fake followers will help brands take a more informed decision when getting them on board. It will also help better value for money. “Craftsvilla believes in giving more prominence to the content and engagement created by the influencers. And this will continue to be our focus,” shares Gupta.

Jain states that the dependency of commercials on basis of numbers will certainly be revised Creativity and engaging content will be the key deciding factor.

The rise of Nano and Micro influencers

It has been observed that more brands are now turning to micro-influencers (anyone whose social media following ranges from 10k to 1 lakh followers) and nano-influencers(someone with less than 10k followers), thereby pushing brand awareness and engagement.

Craftsvilla has been working with nano influencers for various campaigns since the almost a year. The brand states it will continue to play an important part of its overall plans even going forward. It’s ongoing campaign #JudgeMeNot has more than 50 nano influencers talking about the campaign.

It is interesting to note that most of the nano influencers are ready to go that extra mile to create interesting and innovative content for the brands. 

However, with more number of nano and micro influencers, the number of sponsored content on a user’s Instagram feed increases too. Does this pose a challenge? “It actually helps identify which content a user needs to spend time on and which can be skipped over,” Jansen quipped. 

Sinha states that the rise of nano-influencers means more quality engagement which would only come about with relevant reach. On the contrary, Vasudeva thinks that it does in a way; however, influencers are also careful about not spamming their followers with too much-sponsored content in order to keep their followers engaged. 

Brands are realizing that by using influencers to create smart and authentic branded content they stand a better chance of converting consumers than relying on traditional push-advertising. 

“Instagram has launched features like Paid Partnerships that allow influencers to give more detailed information about brands and products that they partner with, and influencers can boost their content buy spending money on Instagram. This is a win-win-win for the brands, influencers & Instagram. Instagram’s opportunity lies in continuing to own it’s user-base and keeping them hooked,” opined Swarup.