The great Instagram purge of the past 24 hours hit Justin Bieber hardest—3.5 million lost followers—but some of social media's biggest brands felt the sting of loss, too.
National Geographic, Nike, Adidas and Forever 21 were among the top 100 Instagram accounts that saw their follower counts pummeled after the spam hunt.
The photo- and video-sharing app said last week that it would cull fake and inactive accounts, and it did its best to prepare brands and fans for the worst. Today, Instagram users were lamenting their fallen following with memes and jokes to cover the hurt.
The shock of a diminished audience is just a short-term hit for marketers, who ultimately want to know if their fans are fake, said Eric Brown, head of communications for social influence measurement tool Klout and its parent company, Lithium.
"Purging fake followers is the best thing to happen to social media since promoted tweets. It shows brands that reach is not enough and just a number." Brown said in an e-mail. "Brands need to be highly engaged with their real customers."
After Bieber lost his millions of spammers, he dropped to the No. 2 most popular on the site, now behind Kim Kardashian, who also lost 1.3 million, according to Pixel 64, which has been tracking Instagramageddon.
Even President Barack Obama was hit with a loss of 213,000 followers, 5.7 percent of his Instagram base now 3.5 million strong.
Not even Instagram was safe. Its own account lost the most of any brand—18.9 million followers, a 30 percent drop down to a new total of 45.3 million.
Here are some of the brands that lost big:
- National Geographic: 229,000 followers lost. New count: 9.75 million
- Nike: 257,000 followers lost. New count: 8.75 million
- 9Gag: 120,000 followers lost. New count: 8.38 million
- Victoria's Secret: 215,000 followers lost. New count: 7.7 million
- The Ellen Show: 270,000 followers lost. New count: 7.47 million
- Forever 21: 245,000 followers lost. New count: 5.33 million
- Real Madrid Club de Fútbol: 159,000 followers lost. New count: 5.36 million
- FC Barcelona: 133,000 followers lost. New count: 5.33 million
- NBA: 196,000 followers lost. New count: 4.15 million
- GoPro: 94,000 followers lost. New count: 3.64 million
- Adidas: 101,000 followers lost. New count: 3.6 million
- Louis Vuitton: 107,000 followers lost. New count: 3.55 million