A large number of followers is one of the factors needed to be a popular influencer but with Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, low barriers to entry and stiff competition are causing many influencers to turn to shifty methods of inflating their profiles. Multiple services offer intelligent fake followers at prices cheaper than a day’s lunch!
Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies with products like Dove, Lipton tea etc, is attempting to crack down on influencer fraud by canceling contracts with influencers with paid followers. The FMCGs’ Chief marketer, Keith Weed said: “The key to improving the situation is three-fold: cleaning up the influencer ecosystem by removing misleading engagement; making brands and influencers more aware of the use of dishonest practices, and improving transparency from social platforms to help brands measure impact.”
2018 has been a year of explosive growth for influencer marketing with the market estimated to reach $10 billion by 2020. Entrepreneur reported that 41 percent of marketers surveyed spent only 5 percent or less of their budget on influencer marketing. But more than half of them are looking to increase their budget over the coming years.
While buying bots has been a prevalent practice on Instagram, the scale of this issue came into the spotlight after The New York Times published an exposé on the practice of buying followers and bots to increase engagement. Engaging with fake followers or bots through influencer campaigns is a waste of marketing resources especially for brands like Unilever, who spent over $9 billion on marketing in 2017.
Influencers are only as powerful as the number of people who trust and value them. What brands are looking for is an influencer’s ability to reach a big enough audience and their level of engagement; thus due-diligence should be vital before hiring an influencer.
While there is no direct way of spotting fake profiles on Instagram, Affable’s machine-learning model can bring a wealth of influencer insights for brands including presenting the % of suspicious following of an influencer.