[ Musings ][ Social Media ]

Social Blade & why it should not be read as simply a matter of buying fake followers.


I fell real badly during training 2 days ago, sprained my knee, in clutches and currently more or less immobile. This meant that I spent more of my time on the computer serving the web and watching videos. I’ll leave the clutches story to another time, let’s bring our focus onto a really interesting video I found while surfing the web!

It’s Social Blade, a Social Media analytic tool that tracks user statistics for YouTube, Twitch, Instagram and Twitter. I’ve been helping companies and businesses with their Social Media platforms for over 6 years, such tools are very common and useful when we analyse client’s Social Media portfolio, work on competitor analysis or recommend influencers. We have been using Social Blade and other Social Media analytical tools for tracking and recommendations purposes for awhile and I’ll analyse my own Instagram account here using Social Blade.

Here’s the video, it should be interesting to watch 🙂


Here are my stats on Social Blade using my IG account @qiyunz. @FlyingPistachios is such a small account Social Blade wouldn’t even bother analysing it for us LOL!


Looks like the HDB steps or Chinese Garden Pagoda Roof that screams FAAAKKKKEEE right? See, Social Blade only gives you the shape of the graph but does not tell you what happened that CAUSED the shape to look the way it looks. There are many many many different Social Media strategies out there and its not just the purchase of fake followers that creates such HDB steps. If you think that there is only 1 reason that leads to such graphs, you live in a very small and uninformed world. Here’s analysing my own graph and sharing my feelings as I can remember. I will also open myself up for the very first time to share some of the Social Media strategies we use for our clients too.

  1. I hit a naggy plateau somewhere in early April that lasted all the way till late June. This was also the same period of time when Instagram slideshow was introduced and the ‘great lord of IG’ decided I was not worthy of the new update – so I couldn’t do slideshows and not only that, it seems that my account was forgotten – My feeds did’nt reach out to any new followers. It was a LONG FLAT HORIZON. The same feels when you get stuck under a gazebo on a beach looking at the rain crash down into the murky horizon. Pure SIANESS. If you are going to lecture me about reinstalling, restarting, updating, hold your horses. I’ve tried everything under the Sun, it’s an account issue.
  2. Somewhere in May my account got fixed and I can finally use IG slideshows. During the same period of time, I also decided that my account needs some boosting and ‘new blood’ to break away from the ‘horizon’, so I decided to try a new strategy. Don’t be too quick to judge – that 800 plus increase in fans were from my first giveaway loop that I did with other influencers and brands.  There is nothing wrong with giveaway loops – it’s a giveaway contest in collaboration with other Instagram accounts. It’s kind of like introducing my fans to other accounts (and vice versa) and if they like me, they can stay and hang around. If not, they are welcomed to leave. We pay to participate in such loops – the money goes to the loop organiser, the prize and sometimes pay the Influencer accounts with super high followers. When it comes to Social Media Strategy for businesses, many brands actually do such ‘fans exchange’ as well, collaborating with related brands to do a co-brand campaign. Eg. Yeo Hiap Seng (a local drinks company) teams up with Swatch (a watch company) to co-exchange prizes such as ‘Win a Swatch watch’ or ‘Win 1 year worth of Yeo’s drinks’ and they will get fans from both sides to ‘like’ each other’s pages for a chance to win.
  3. Now see the next 2 spikes in August and mid Sept? They are from giveaway loops too! The rule of thumb is, the more followers you get, the more followers you lose. Different loops give you different results for various reasons. The giveaway loop I did in August had a hiccup – many sponsor accounts (accounts with super high number of followers) either did not post the loop image as agreed or left the loop halfway. For whatever reason I do not know why, but the loop organiser was kind enough to promise a equal value loop FOC in the future. This means that you will still see me doing loops. As for the loop in September, this was a smaller loop that’s mainly based overseas. During this period of time, USA was recovering from Hurricane Harvey and Maria together with other hurricanes were making their devastating destruction. Internet lines were lost and thus, there were lower engagement on Instagram than usual. People had more urgent things to do than take part in a loop contest. Thus timing is also very important.
  4. Let’s also talk about my current content strategy. Since late last year, I have been gearing my ‘Beauty only’ Instagram account to a more lifestyle based account. I hear some remarks like ‘she gets more sponsors this way etc etc etc’. Well, that’s only half true. I do get more varied sponsors, but I have also lost some beauty related sponsors. And that’s ok cause the bigger truth is that MOST INFLUENCERS DO NOT LIVE FOR SPONSORS. Like Hello? Wake up your big idea – Makeup, clothes and gadgets are inedible and most local brands DO NOT PAY CASH. The reason for my content diversification is because this account is a personal account and I’m a diversified person. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos and creating content; working on my Instagram account is like a hobby as much as how some men like to work in their car garage. However, I slowly found that the personal account was losing it’s personality and does not represent who I really am. So I decided to relax my content niche and began posting about other things that I want to share as well. Do I ask for sponsors? Yes I do, when I find that I like the brand, when I think my viewers might like the brand and when I think that by working together, we can achieve a win-win situation: I save moolah, the brand gets some eyeballs. So do I buy my own products? Yes I do. How do I decide what are the items I’ll buy and which are the ones I’ll ask for sponsors? Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and my mood lor. Don’t people make purchases the same way? Is the change in content range the reason why my account got stagnant? I honestly don’t think so. The stagnant came sudden and furious. While my followers did not leave me (which means that I wasn’t doing anything wrong), I did not gain new followers too. It is more of an engagement strategy issue – I got really busy at work and didn’t have the time to do much engagement, thus my account was just not being searched or exposed.
  5. OHHH I’ve introduced a new term: Engagement Strategy. Yups, it’s completely different from content strategy. Some clients I have actually opt out of engagement strategy simply because Instagram is not their focus – they merely want to have an existence, but not an ACTIVE existence. Think of this analogy – You walk into a wet market with many stalls selling different things. Some of the stall owners simply sit around and wait for people to walk past and perhaps, find something they need. This is having an existence, but not engaging. There are some stalls who shout LELONG LELONG, FRESH FISH FOR SALE, and some stalls who send their promoters to go around with a small basket of goods and bring back interested customers to the main point of purchase where they can get more choices – you can think of these as engagement activities with active existence. So how do you do this on IG? Engagement strategy on IG includes actively going around your target audience accounts to comment, like and engage so they’ll know of your existence. THIS IS HOURS OF HARD WORK. Takes loads of time especially if you do not have a natural Social Media magnetism such as cult brand Harley Davidson or the ever so pretty Miyake Ng. I have negative Social Media magnetism so I am really really really thankful for my husband, best friends and followers who stayed around and beared with my repulsion ;’P
  6. In the previous point, I have actually covered the 2 of 3 main part of SM marketing strategy: Content Strategy and Engagement Strategy. These are the 2 types of strategies that you can work on a continuous basis to ensure good account growth. The third part involved working with the Social Media platform you are on. This includes having a good understanding of the computerised algorithm system also known as the famous (yet outdated) term ‘edgerank’. There have been reports that the edgerank system no longer exists but for the simplicity of my explanation, I am going to continue using this term and across the other Social Media platforms beyond Facebook as well. While it is important to know the type of content your followers like, you also need to know the type of content the Social Media platform likes. Eg. Everyone knows that Facebook favours videos more than photos as they are competing with YouTube for video audiences (as video audiences linger around the site for a longer time). This means that when you post a video, you will AU-TOOOO-MA-TI-CALLLYYY get higher reach. Higher reach may give you higher engagement, but not higher engagement rate. It’s simple mathematics but I’ll save this for another article if I get enough enquiries. So if you know what Instagram likes (hint: Facebook owns Instagram), there is a better chance for you to be favoured and appear on the ‘discovery page’ which will lead to a sharp increase in reach and hopefully a sharp increase in fan count (as per my dear friend, Winter’s case)
  7. Let’s not forget that the employees working behind Facebook, Instagram and other Social Media platforms do not get full or quench their thirst by the number of likes and views. They’ll need money to buy food, so FB & IG got to make money to pay them and this is done through charging advertisers who want to achieve better reach. Instagram allows business accounts to boost their posts for a certain amount of money – before making any ill-informed comments, please click on the previous link or click here. I do boost my posts and this helps increase reach and thus increasing engagement. The difference between ‘ad buys’ and ‘buying likes’ is ad buys are managed, ran and controlled as a service by these Social Media platforms and reaches out to real users via additional placements in personal feeds. However ‘buying likes’ simply gives you more likes via third-party sources and there is no telling where these sources are from.
  8. At this point of time, you may think that I am trying to justify the ‘shape of my graph’ – if so, I am sorry for your hardened heart. For all those who came and learnt something new, please go ahead and pass on the knowledge. Don’t forget to tell them about me and my blog hahahahah!

So in conclusion:

  1. Don’t be too quick to judge
  2. Be well informed or be a laughing stock
  3. To those keyboard warriors out there, I’m sorry you couldn’t get a better life.

Lastly to all my kind, lovely and hard-working blogger/ influencer friends affected by this saga, stay strong – this too shall pass 🙂 We’ve all already got better lives and better things to do. While we achieve our bigger goals and go frolicking in the things we love, those people hiding behind their blue light emitting screens can look back and figure if they could have done better things with their lives.

Happy Thoughts

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Hello! I am Qi Yun, the author and creative behind www.FlyingPistachios.com.

I can be best described as a beauty junkie, picky pot and a perpetual wanderlust. Colours, traveling and listening to people talk inspire me, triggering visions and ideas. I’m often called a walking box filled with ideas. I love working on projects that shows originality and have a chance to make this world a better place.

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