December 22, 2014

In case you missed the apparent apocalypse this week, Instagram went through and cleaned out a TON of spam and inactive accounts from their platform. Chances are, you noticed to some extent that your Instagram followers dropped. You may have only lost a few followers or you may have lost thousands.

First of all, let's be clear - you are not the ONLY one who lost followers. Nearly every account was affected somehow by this "purge" (as it's being called). So if you think for one second you were unfairly targeted, you need to check yourself.

If you want to see how unaffected you really were, check out these top 100 Instagram accounts and how many followers they lost. Instagram itself lost over 18 million (yeah!!) followers - almost 30% of their follower count!

This article, and many others, and many incensed people, showcase how intensely upset people are with this recent loss of followers. Arguments range from how "hard" they worked to "earn" those followers, to a lot of cussing, to threats of leaving Instagram.

Let's be clear. Right here, right now. If you lost a lot of followers - you did not earn them. I repeat. You. Did. Not. Earn. Them. You bought them. You gamed the system. You used follow4follow tactics and other methods to boost follower counts as part of a popularity contest. You did not earn any of those followers. And if you thought for half a second that most of those accounts were real... well, you're just getting your wake up call now, honey.

But here's why I think this is a GOOD thing and why I think you should be happy about this loss of followers on Instagram.

If you're using Instagram for a legitimate purpose (business, connecting with family and friends, sharing your hobby, or otherwise), then you want REAL people following you. You aren't worried about being in a popularity contest for the most followers. No, you want people who actually care about what you post and engage with your content.

Now, with all those spam and inactive accounts gone, you know that those following you are actually interested in you! This allows you to create highly targeted content directly for this audience and to increase your community of advocates.

You'll also notice your levels of engagement are going to increase. Let's say you had 1000 followers and averaged 100 likes/comments per post. That's an average of 10% engagement. But after the purge, you're down to 800 followers. You're still going to average 100 likes/comments per post because the 200 followers you lost weren't doing anything for your posts. So now your engagement will be 12.5%. That's a pretty significant increase! And you didn't have to do anything to see that improvement!

I'm also glad that this clean up will hold more accounts accountable. They will have to grow their audiences organically and legitimately. The average user will be better able to tell who is really doing well versus who is faking it on Instagram. And, businesses and brands will have to actually work to grow their audience - by providing REAL VALUE - not just by buying followers and lacking a strategy. This will encourage businesses to try harder but will really set the hard-working, effective accounts apart from the half-ass players.

So, yes. I'm glad my Instagram followers dropped. In fact, I lost about 200 followers, dropping from nearly 2600 to just under 2400. And I am totally ok with that! It means I have 2400 dedicated followers who I can focus on creating valuable content for and helping them grow their accounts the right way.

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