For a long period of time, Instagram has been showing posts in a chronological manner which made the playing field even to all and sundry regardless of the number of following one had. Recently, there was a switch that saw the app prioritize content that users would most likely love to see or engage with.  Consequently, this saw the rise of ‘Kenya’s Instagram Mafia’ ; a game of lies, laziness and a scheme of feigned engagement in attempts to cheat. If you are an influencer and you are doing this, shame! If you are a brand, here is why you have to care!

A NUMBERS GAME.

No one worries about your content anymore, well, as it seems. We always thought content is king but we are apparently wrong. In my little experience from pitching emails showing the intention to work with certain brands, the first response one gets is normally an inquiry on how your numbers are. “How are your numbers? Kindly send us your media kit,” the email reads. Responses that may turn you down normally bear the words. “There was a competitive look-through in the numerous applications and due to your numbers, you unfortunately rank below the ones with great numbers.”

There is an increasingly acute obsession in numbers. Brands have continued to express their desire to know how much social media numbers you have at first glance without looking at content and this is the problem!

HOW ‘THE MAFIA’ OPERATES.

Firstly, nothing prevents one from opening a group of 50 or more loyal people on Whatsapp, that always ‘support’ each other. Whenever you put up a post, these people rush to the post, like and comment on it, “SUPERB! SO BEAUTIFUL! GOOD JOB!WE WANT MORE!” They may also just use emojis which is equally a response. This inflates engagement on their posts greatly!

Secondly, there is something called Instagram pods. Now, Instagram pods are formed by creating group messages of around 10 to 20 users, usually bloggers, influencers and content creators, with the occasional business in there too. Users in the pods are expected to follow one another in the group. Once that’s done, they send over a photo they’ve just posted so that other pod members can like and comment on it and boost engagement.

Such behaviour is on the rise at the moment and it is the reason brands ought to stop their obsession in numbers and use clever criteria to choose who to work with.

The average ‘Instagram mafia’ has a really lovely page that would always appeal to marketing managers.

WHY BRANDS SHOULD CARE!

Brands, you need to stop and start to care!  The said Instagram pods can and do skew results. Working with an Instagrammer or a blogger that is part of a pod means their own numbers are wholly wrong.

The obsession with numbers also skew payments. Agencies or managers evaluate influencers on the size of their audience or engagement. Top influencers who are showing high numbers are commanding high prices, and the brand no longer knows if the engagement is genuine.

FINAL THOUGHT

This ‘mafia’ operates on a variety of fields, from beauty, food, travel, photography,name it! Bloggers and other influencers, you need to come clean! Brands, content is king, not numbers! You really ought to care!

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—Kech