Roughly 40% of Indian Instagrammers use third-party apps to artificially increase their follower count
New Delhi: Food blogger and Instagrammer, Vernika Awal, often gets messages from unknown people on Instagram who claim they can increase her follower count. One such person offered to charge her ₹ 50 for 100 followers.
However, the founder of Delectable Reveries, a food blog, Awal has 13,000 Instagram followers and insists on increasing her followers without bending the rules. “I got my 13,000 followers over three years but I know of a person who started around the same time as me and has over 200,000 followers," Awal says. Awal’s perception is on track. According to Salman Moin, co-founder of Social Booth, a digital marketing firm, roughly 40% of Indian Instagrammers use third-party apps to increase their follower count. For ₹ 1000-1500, they offer you 25,000 to 30,000 followers, which you can use on multiple accounts, Moin explained. So, when a vendor approaches an Instagrammer, he/she basically has an account on these apps and uses them to increase the Instagrammer’s followers.
There’s bad news for such third-party apps, though. On 19 November, Instagram via a blog post announced it will be cracking down on such apps. That means that those who have increased their followers from such services might see a tremendous drop in their follower count soon, directly affecting their business since follower count helps influencers determine their rate. In fact, Ayush Choudhary, founder, DForDelhi, a hyperlocal social media platform, says their rates are “entirely dependent upon followers".
Though influencer marketing agencies now consider engagement (likes, comments) as a priority, all of this is still a factor of followers in some way. Choudhary says he considers anyone with over 10,000 followers an influencer. That said, Shudeep Majumdar, co-founder of Zefmo Pvt. Ltd, an influencer marketing firm, said that while reach is a major determining factor for rates, it’s not the only factor. According to him, the follower count holds about 20-30% weightage in measuring an influencer’s worth.
Yet, most experts in the field agree that a minimum number of followers will still be needed for anyone to fulfil the requirements to be considered an influencer. Further, the Instagram announcement is part of its ongoing crackdown on bots, fake followers and other such activities.
According to DForDelhi’s Choudhary, some influencers in India have already seen huge drops in their follower counts, even to the tune of 30,000 followers. He thinks this new move will also have an impact. On the other hand, influencers who have a genuine following are happy. Awal said she’s often overlooked by brands because she doesn’t “have enough followers". Ishita Bhattacharya, an Instagram influencer in the fashion segment, corroborates this sentiment.
Zefmo’s Majumdar thinks that moves like this will make it easier to differentiate between real influencers and those that are churning followers.