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How to spot influencer instafraud and not believe their hype

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram seems to be prime real estate for the influencer market, but what about fraudulent influencers? Be aware that instafraud exists and how to look for it.


Risk of influencers

We’ve written a few times about the power of influencer marketing, but like any marketing strategy, there are risks to consider.

Many turn to Influencer marketing out of concerns about fraud, but may not be anticipating the full extent of how influencer marketing is vulnerable to said fraud.

An imposter!

With less than a 1000 dollars, it’s wouldn’t be hard to put together a fake influencer account or two to get some legitimate money. The team over at Adweek did a really nifty little experiment.
In less than a week, they had spent 1100 dollars for two fake accounts, and companies already started offering them products totaling 500 dollars.

Mediakix elaborates more on the simplicity of the process, and presents an interesting case study as well.

The influencer market

With the estimates of nearly 570 million spent on Instagram influencer marketing, the cost of fraud could be enormous. Especially as brands seek to work with smaller micro-influencers over the Kim Kardashians’ – there is more opportunity for fraud in this digital ad space. Brands are furiously trying to engage on social media, and these influencers seem like lucrative opportunities.

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However, it still seems pretty easy to put together a fake Influencer.

Combine that with how many businesses are trying to simplify or automate this process of working with influencers, there is more opportunity to connect with a fraudulent account There are a few things you can do:

  • Focus on the right KPI’s to ensure you are measuring the right thing.
  • Match your campaigns to the right influencer.
  • Recognize that size (# of followers) may not be everything.
  • Leverage technology to track patterns – same time “likes” or suspicious engagement that seems to mechanical to be natural.

The bright side

There is some good news: Bots and spam are against Instagram’s terms of service. Directly stated from their page: “Help us stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, followers, or shares, posting repetitive comments or content, or repeatedly contacting people for commercial purposes without their consent. Although the decision to shut down Instagress met some ire, Instagram is taking a firm stance against bots and automation.

This means influencers and Instagram enthusiasts have to start looking for ways to improve their engagement strategies without reaching the ire of Instagram – the clearest of which is to focus on authentic engagement.

Careful of instafraud

In other words – don’t assume that Influencer marketing is particularly safer from fraud. It requires careful considerations and vetting, and isn’t always ideal.

Market smart, and don’t forget to vet, vet, vet to keep those dollars from going to fraudsters.


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Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

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  1. Pingback: The FTC is taking action on influencers refusing to follow rules - The American Genius

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