You bought friends, but now you’ll lose

I’ve been surprised over how many influencers and brands I’ve met over the years who actually spent money on buying likes and followers. I was so naive that I thought nobody would do such a thing, but how wrong I was! It’s a billion dollar industry. Crazy.

And the fake likes and followers have been hard to spot and have therefore helped both brands and influencers to buy credibility – sometimes even pushing the prices of collaborations and valuation up.

This is about to change. For quite a long time now, Facebook has punished content that did not receive enough engagement – meaning content that was not good enough for their audience.

This week Instagram is starting to do the same thing. They are switching from a chronological feed to an algorithmical feed. The content Instagram thinks you’ll like the most (based on your engagement) will be shown first. Drowning all the people who bought fake friends, with no engagement.

This is a great step in the right direction for social. Great content and real engagement should always win. After all, that’s the only thing that creates real value.


  1. I feel as if you are approaching this way to much from a marketing or community management point of view. While I agree it is great that those who have purchased followers or likes are now “punished”, this shift also means that I will see less of the things I care about (far-away friends and family who I have chosen to follow) and more of things I do not want to see (paid content) about on Instagram. Facebook and Instagram are different platforms with different user behaviours and journeys. All I can see from this is a new revenue stream for Instagram, with very little benefit for the end-user.

    1. Hey Pete, thanks for your comment. I believe it’s going to be the other way around, because the algorithm will surface the content you engage with.

      The ads are already there. This is about content that you don’t care about will have a harder time getting to you (if they don’t pay). And that’s a big win in my opinion.

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