With the rise of influencer marketing, naturally comes the rise in fake accounts or non-genuine accounts using bought followers and engagement through third-party sites. In an industry that is estimated at $1 billion (projected to reach $2 billion by 2019) it’s little wonder that those of us that are less-than-honest, are finding a way to cash in on this money train.
First thing’s first, how do you spot a fake account? MediaKik have a wealth of knowledge on how to determine which influencers are worth contacting and those that could be “spam-bots.” A group of Italian security researches found that as many as 8% of all Instagram accounts aren’t real—that’s a pretty high number considering that up to 30% of accounts are actually inactive.
After this research came out, MediaKik actually went and tried making fake profiles—to see what would happen and if they could get a brand to pay them for sponsored posts. The full article here. In summary, they created two accounts, one based on an actual person using images from a full-day photoshoot to recreate a busy and thriving account, and a second one based solely on stock imagery.
After the accounts were set-up, they went on to purchase followers—for as little as $3 for 1,000 followers, they were able to buy up to 15k worth of followers at a time without being flagged as a spam account by Instagram.
Then after you’ve got your followers, you need some love. Buying likes and comments start at about $4 for 1,000 likes, and roughly 12c per comment bought. A couple of hundred likes and a few comments per photo later—voila you’ve got instant engagement.
How do you know if you’re looking at a fake account? A general tip in the not-as-good-as-it-seems direction is that the follows/followers ratio is way off. Generally speaking, your average account is looking about 1:1 follows/followers—with spam accounts following up to as many as 41 accounts to the 1 follower they’ve gained.
However in cases like this, where the numbers are fairly realistic it’s worth tracking through their posts and noting the timeline. This would show all of these photos uploaded on the same day and all the engagement from the previous 24hours or so.. instant red flag!
Influencers of all sizes are pouring onto the space (see last weeks article about micro-influencers) and it’s becoming increasingly common for brands to be losing money due to a lack of double-checking what may seem too good to be true.
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