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Samsung shuffled away 5 million Instagram followers in January. Why?

1 month ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Big Tech

In January 2020, Samsung's ($KRX:005930) main mobile Instagram account @samsungmobile commanded a massive 5.1 million followers across nearly 500 posts.

As of today, that same account has just 230,000 followers and a meager 15 posts.

The chart above shows the @samsungmobile Instagram account's followers over time. Since at least last summer, the account was gaining new followers at a healthy clip, topping out at 5,190,000 followers on January 5, 2020. But then by January 21, 2020, the number of @samsungmobile followers plummeted to 206,000. Today, that account has 23,000 followers and just 15 posts, all focused on the mobile phone company's newest phones.

What happened? Why would a major smartphone manufacturer walk away from 5 million followers? It turns out that Samsung pulled an account switcharoo as it released new phones. We're not sure why, and if anything, if this social media is helping the brand.

First, the evidence:

The first post in the "new" account is dated January 7, when Samsung teased a new Galaxy phone ahead of a January 11 event. That's right when roughly 5 million followers were sent packing.

Or so it seems. By tracing the account's web page back in time via archive.com, it looks as though Samsung pulled a quick one on its followers in order to give the new phone line some instant social media cred. By moving followers and posts over to the new @withgalaxy account, and by using the @samsungmobile account for the latest phones, Samsung essentially pulled a quick switch.

The archived Samsung Mobile account, once the "Official Instagram of the #GalaxyS10 and #GalaxyFold," is now an Instagram-focused photo account that asks followers to "See the world differently" by tagging photos they've taken with Samsung devices with a hashtag of the same name.

And while this may seem like a clever social strategy — build up followers, and then slough the followers off to a new Instagram account to build new followers — this is the first time Samsung pulled this move, or so it seems. Back in 2018, the account was the official account for the previous generation of Samsung phones. By then it already had a commanding 4.4 million followers.

And now, they're all following @withgalaxy while @samsungmobile its with 200,000 followers with 15 posts.

Go figure.

If anything, it looks as though with the account renaming — @samsungmobile to @withgalaxy — the company was able to keep most of its followers. The question is whether or not those followers will appreciate the switcharoo. What was once a more product-focused account, at least ostensibly given its name, is now a glorified photo hashtag.

So far, Samsung hasn't done anything similar on Facebook, where it's seen a steady increase in followers since at least 2016.

We reached out to Samsung for comment on their Instagram strategy but haven't heard back yet. We'll update when — and if — we do.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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