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Instagram spam purge costs Nike, Adidas and Forever21 hundreds of thousands of ‘followers’


By Seb Joseph | News editor

December 21, 2014 | 3 min read

Nike, Adidas and Forever21 are some of the biggest casualties of Instagram’s crackdown on fake accounts, costing some brands hundreds of thousands of followers on the photo-sharing social network.

Marketers had been made aware of the purge earlier this month when Instagram revealed it would permanently delete accounts it had already identified as “spammy”. It warned “some of you will see a change in your follower count”, giving advertisers clearer insight into their actual reach on the platform.

Nike and Adidas were among the top 100 Instagram accounts that were affected by the cull, which slashed their followers by 257,000 and 101,000 to 8.75 million and 3.6 million respectively, according to web developer Zach Allia. High street fashion brand Forever21 lost 245,000 fans leaving it with a count of 5.33 million, while Victoria Secret dropped 120,000 and was left with 7.7 million.

The cull is likely to be a temporary setback to advertisers’ efforts to incorporate Instagram into their digital strategies. The social network has been reluctant to open the platform up fully to brands over concerns increased advertising on the platform could dampen the overall experience and push users to rivals. Instagram’s strategy, which has been to educate brands on how to develop creative in tune with how people are already sharing content, has paid off to date with the site generating nearly 50 times more engagement than Twitter, according to Socialbakers.

Alex Boere, managing partner at Rufus Leonard, said brands will have “mixed” reactions to Instagram’s move. In the short term, brands will feel misled if they have invested heavily to gain followers and have trusted in data from Instagram, he added.

On the flipside, said Boere, brands will be gain confidence in Instagram’s attempt to protect the user experience. “All any brand wants are legitimate followers who are genuinely interest in them”.

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