Your followers are fake, and everybody knows it.

“I woke up like this”, hashtag-livingmybestlyfe, hashtag-friyay, hashtag-notaselfie,
Let me unpack this for you quickly; what are we witnessing here exactly?

An average photo of a human flat lay, below average narrative, and ok, Susan, let’s just say it’s not a selfie because your selfie stick took the photo on a 10 second timer. Then how about those metrics? You received 86 likes on that post, when your account boasts a total of 78K followers. Here’s what’s wrong with this picture. Your followers are fake, and everybody knows it!

It’s 2019, and we are still obsessing about social media follower numbers. Really? How morose!
Almost every day it seems, I come across sponsored posts about Instagram growth-hacking, and how to get 10,000 REAL followers. My DM inbox is regularly spammed by bot accounts that kindly advise me that my newsfeed is dope, but are quick to point out what a shame it is that I am not reaching thousands of followers, immediately discounting my already highly engaged and loyal following.

This year, Instagram rolled out a new interface design, by removing the follower button and significantly decreasing the font size, which now de-emphasizes your follower count, and emphasizes your bio. It’s evident that Instagram, along with the rest of the world, is fed up with the culture it unintentionally created -the tale of numbers versus story. And while influencers who rely on such metrics are protesting and panicking, for a little while at least, it is undoubtedly clear that Instagram is going back to its roots and incentivizing us to focus on engagement and connection rather than numbers.


  • Bought followers are simply vanity numbers that offer absolutely no value.
  • The content you spent time carefully crafting is wasted on bots, or on accounts of individuals who get paid to just follow but will never engage with your content. These are “fake followers”, who own multiple “fake accounts”.
  • Not having real followers severely impairs your social listening. With bought followers who don’t engage with your content, you automatically lose your ability to test concepts, ideas, and get an understanding of what stories or angles stimulate your audience.

“As I’ve always said, Instagram is not just about posting pretty photos. It’s an exceptional storytelling platform that allows your followers to build an intimate connection with you, but wait, there’s more; it’s also your best market research tool.” ~ Marina Mara



First, understand that it takes time. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and figuratively speaking, your social platforms won’t be either. Your followers will increase over time and so will your influence depending on your activity.  Focus on growing your tribe steadily and consistently.

Stay firmly grounded on the journey. Note the learnings, the observed behaviours, your follower sentiment, the reactions to your stories, but mostly, take notice of the creative angles that deliver the most arousal to your audience. Data mine, create, refine, repeat!


At the foundation of your online growth is your story, and it can be disorientating without a coherent and consistent message. Your storytelling strategy should be clear, felt, and simple. Decide on which relevant angles you will include in your storytelling matrix and do not deviate from them. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur, your matrix may include: business success, travel, luxury, closing deals in heels, daily discipline, productivity routines, and aspirational wealth posts. Unless you’re regularly including parenthood in this dynamic, but in a relevant and contextual way, posting random stories of your toddlers flatulence, which you find utterly hilarious, will leave your audience questioning why they followed you in the first place.

Much like a successful TV series, develop your plot, include some plot twists, but keep them contextual, always. Your social media strategy should be geared towards reputation, and consistency should be about your message, not just your posting frequency.


Newsfeeds with Malibu style presets (yes, you know what I’m referring to; de-saturated, monochrome, overexposed posts, with a vintage feel that makes you look 10x tanned) in other words every fashion and travel bloggers’ newsfeed, are no longer arousing to the eye.

Let’s put it this way; you may love lobster, but try eating it from breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Your audience craves rawness, authenticity, and diversity, not Coachella-style edited images.

Surveys are now revealing that we are well and truly immune to social media perfection, with a new generation of ‘grammers’ challenging the status quo. It’s time to let your vulnerability cut-through, tell the story, focus less on your newsfeed, and more on making an impact on others. Add value, share from the heart; let yourself be perfectly imperfect!

Authenticity is an ideal that impacts and shapes social thinking and it’s heavily dependent on transparency. Your audience demands you to be real. Authenticity is not an option.
You are the storyteller, but you are also the audience, so, how do you feel when you witness authentic-fakes?



Marina is an international Media and Reputation Advisor turning clients into attractive, highly influential and lucrative brands through tailored media and brand consulting. She's best described as "sunshine, mixed with a little bit of hurricane". REACH OUT AND CONNECT WITH MARINA ON SOCIAL.