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I LOVE Instagram. As a visual artist it is by far the most effective social media platform available for my business. I can instantly update my folio, get feedback and design direction as well as search for endless inspiration from an ever-growing pool of designers and artists. Change is the only constant in this world, and Instagram is no stranger to it. In the last 6-12 months alone we've seen some hashtags banned, algorithms changed and the new business account feature to name just a few. But there's one change that isn't being talked about and it's not Instagram's's ours. As a society we have become so ego driven that some people will do almost anything to get their follower numbers up.

I'm talking about MASSING. This fairly new strategy involves accounts - in particular business accounts - mass following people then unfollowing all those same accounts within 48 hours, even when the follow is reciprocated. The theory behind it is if a person follows hundreds of accounts, a percentage of them will follow back. By unfollowing shortly after, it gives the account the illusion of a 'desirable' follower vs following ratio, therefore making the account look popular and more likely to receive organic growth.

In the beginning it was slightly annoying, but it is happening at such a rate now that I feel it is impacting my experience using the app. When I get a follow from popular local businesses it's exciting, I feel involved in the community, like all my hard work is paying off...I'm making a name for myself! So when those same businesses unfollow in a matter of hours, it can leave me questioning not just my Instagram community, but the integrity of my local one as well.

The tipping point for me came when I was chatting to one of my clients who has experienced the same situation. What bothered me in particular is this client is a young band - a group of 5 teenage boys trying to make their mark on the world - and essentially local businesses are using these kids within their social media strategy to increase their follower numbers. That doesn't sit right with me.

If you're curious if this is happening to your account, here are some tips to find out: - If a business follows you, check out their account. If they have over 10k followers and a following ratio of 10:1, beware. Not all accounts with these numbers are guilty of it of course, but it's a common denominator for a Massing account. - If the account has over 5K followers but very little interaction on their photos, this can also indicate an account that uses disingenuous strategies to boost their follower numbers.

- Download the third party app InstaFollow. It will show you all the people who have recently unfollowed you as well as all your non-followers.

If you are reading this blog and you're guilty of Massing, maybe it's time to rethink your strategy - one that doesn't involve using little guys.

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