Instagram has proved to be one of the biggest successes for Facebook, and for influencers on the platform, it has become a very good source of revenue given brands are willing to collaborate with them for one story or a single paid post. But it looks like many influencers are relying on fake followers in order to boost their numbers.
A new joint research study conducted by a Swedish e-commerce start-up called ‘A Good Company’ and data analytics firm HypeAuditor, has found that the US, Brazil and India are the three regions with the most number of fake followers on Instagram. In India, over 16 million accounts following Indian Instagram influencers are fake.
Influencers on Instagram are users with a large following on the platform, often in the range of 100,000 to millions. The ‘influencer economy’ as it has been called, has resulted in these users being sought by brands in order to promote their products on the platform.
Brands see influencers with their huge follower count and engagement as the best and possibly the cheapest way to create a marketing campaign given the content has to be created by the influencer. But given so many Instagram influencers in India are relying on fake followers, it raises a lot of questions regarding the effectiveness of such campaigns and whether metrics can really be trusted.
In the study, 1.84 million Instagram accounts from 82 countries were assessed, during which it was found out that the US region influencers had 49 million fake followers, Brazilian influencers had 27 million fake followers and Indian influencers had 16 million fake followers.
In a statement to PRWeek, Anders Ankarlid, CEO of A Good Company said, “Companies are pouring money into influencer marketing, thinking that they are connecting with real people and not Russian bots. In reality, they are pouring money down the drain and giving away free products to someone who acquired a mass-following overnight.”
In the study, the companies estimated Instagram fraud is costing around $750 million globally in wastage to marketers in a market of worth approximately $1.7 billion. Instagram as a social media platform has a monthly active user base of over one billion globally. MediaKix, a marketing firm has estimated that influencer marketing on Instagram could reach $2 billion by the end of 2019.