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Instagram follower cull lifts the lid on influencer marketing


A radical move by social media giant Instagram has seen celebrities and influencers worldwide lose millions of followers overnight – and people are in uproar.

Although many users are putting the cull down to Instagram taking action to remove fake, inauthentic, inactive accounts and bots, a comment from a spokesperson to the Daily Mirror has stated that they are “aware of an issue causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now. We’re working quickly to fix this.”

Whatever the cause, the move has shone a spotlight on the world of inflated or fake follower numbers, that can be used by some celebrities and influencers to boost their brand partnerships and income streams.

Done well and done properly, an authentic influencer relations campaign can help brands to reach their target audiences by tapping into the loyal and engaged follower bases of bloggers and social media superstars.

Just recently, cleaning brand Minky saw product sales rocket overnight and even sell out, thanks to reviews by Instagram cleaning sensation Mrs Hinch, who uses IG Stories to entertain and educate her hugely engaged (and ever growing!) fan base.

But – despite the stellar success of influencers like Mrs Hinch – high follower numbers don’t always mean that an influencer is right for a brand, and they are not always a clear indicator of authenticity or engagement.

So what can brands and businesses do to build an authentic and engaging influencer relations strategy? Here are Jam’s four tips for success:

1. Look for influencers with engaged follower bases

How much do followers interact with posts, and how often does the influencer answer questions and chat with their fans? As the old (!) saying goes, followers for show, engagement for pro!

Make sure you seek out influencers who are actively engaged with their followers, and who’s posts attract lots of comments, shares, questions and likes.

2. Perform your own audit

“But I have 120k followers” isn’t a good enough excuse when an influencer doesn’t deliver. We do our own research into each and every influencer to ensure they are the right fit.

We audit content, engagement and audience to make sure the influencer is speaking to our target audience. Showcasing a brand to unengaged bots is a waste of time and money, so make sure you do some digging.

3. Work with the influencer to create meaningful content

Authentic bloggers and influencers have worked hard to establish an engaged and trusting follower base, by creating a tone of voice and a style that resonates, entertains and informs.

Trust them to create their own content, rather than controlling your brand messaging in the same way that you would do for other communications activity. This will help to create authentic and meaningful content that seamlessly fits in with the rest of the influencer’s outreach.

4. Follow the rules

Recently, the CMA and ASA introduced strict regulations when it comes to bloggers and influencers posting content that they have received payment or product for, and they now have to state clearly if the post is an #ad or contains any #affiliatelinks (follow links to purchase products that will provide a commission fee for the influencer). Contrary to belief, following these rules will not hamper the success of a brand campaign or lessen the impact. Social media users are savvy and they understand that their favourite blogger or influencer works with hand-picked and relevant brands to create a revenue stream. Make sure you work with Influencers who are aware of the rules and follow them appropriately.

Whatever the reason behind Instagram’s recent cull, honest, hard working and authentic influencers and ‘grammers should not be overly concerned if they lose inactive followers.

Engagement is more important than follower numbers, and removing inactive accounts could even help to boost engagement ratings.

Want to find out more about how Jam can help you to build a successful and authentic influencer relations campaign? Get in touch at or call 0161 850 0565.


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