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Partnering with top Instagrammers is one of the best ways brands can increase visibility and gain access to large and/or untapped audiences. However, a new trend of social media stars purchasing fake followers on Instagram to make their accounts seem more popular or influential than they actually are (i.e. manipulating their “vanity metrics” to exaggerate how many people will actually see their posts and/or the sponsored content they publish) is becoming a big problem for brands. To ensure campaign success and help companies avoid falling victim to this scourge of fraudulent fans, we’ve outlined everything brands need to know about fake followers on Instagram, including how to identify them and steps businesses can take to find the right social media influencer for their Instagram marketing collaborations.
Instagram has grown and evolved to become a staple of digital social interaction—according to Instagram’s Press Page, the platform now has over 400 million active users who post an average of 80 million photos per day. In the wake of this growth, several of the app’s top content creators have garnered enormous social media followings by publishing aspirational photos/videos and by personally engaging with their fans. Developing brand-sponsored content (e.g. integrating product placements or brand mentions into photos, documenting a brand-related experience, or making an appearance at an event like a grand opening—some of the top types of influencer marketing campaigns) with these “Instagrammers” can help companies reach targeted, highly engaged audiences, increase brand affinity and exposure, and ultimately lead to higher sales and greater returns on their social media campaign investments (ROIs).
As more brands realize the benefits of influencer marketing and brands sponsorships opportunities become more lucrative for social media influencers, however, some Instagrammers are purchasing fake followers (or “bots,” as these fictitious fans are often called) to skew the perception of how many users will actually see, like, and share each of their Instagram posts. Because both social reach and engagement with real-life consumers are crucial to the success influencer marketing campaigns, working with an Instagrammer who has artificially inflated his or her vanity metrics and/or deceptively boosted their status as an influencer can result in subpar ROIs and campaign engagement. As a recent article by The Huffington Post’s Shayla R. Price points out:
“These [fake] followers won’t be reposting any of the user’s content, initiating a conversation, or favoriting tweets and posts. To the public, the account will appear to be popular, which is good enough for interested buyers.”
The best way brands can avoid working Instagrammers who misrepresent their social reach and engagement is by identifying which influencers have purchased fake followers on Instagram. Manually reviewing each Instagrammer’s posts and followers is one of the most accurate ways to tell if a social media influencer has attempted to mislead companies via deceptive practices, though this process can be time-consuming and arduous, especially if a brand is unsure about what factors may indicate that an Instagrammer has purchased fake followers. Working with an influencer marketing agency who understands how to identify quality engagement rates and has extensive experience vetting Instagrammers and executing Instagram influencer campaigns can help guarantee that a company’s influencer marketing efforts will be as effective as possible.
For more information on how companies can identify social media influencers who have purchased followers, see our blog post: “How To Spot Fake Followers On Instagram.”