Anyone on social media will come across fake accounts.
However, many people are unaware of just how sophisticated fake accounts today can be, and how prevalent they are on even the biggest social networks.
Some social media influencers have even taken to using fake accounts as a means of boosting their numbers and, therefore, the amount they can charge advertisers.
This can be easily achieved. More about it on Smartproxy blog.
Social media platforms are incredibly powerful tools for modern marketers to take advantage of.
There are a number of reasons why social media platforms are so well suited for marketing.
One of the main ones is that they allow for organic interactions between businesses and their customers.
Influencers are at the heart of the interactions between businesses and potential customers on social media.
The importance of social media influencers to modern marketers can be seen in just how lucrative the pursuit is.
Businesses are willing to pay social media influencers good money to promote their products because they know that a single mention from the right influencer can lead to an explosion in sales.
In the case of Instagram, influencers are now an integral part of the platform’s ecosystem.
Any business hoping to use Instagram to boost its brand visibility and get noticed needs to learn how to work with influencers.
Naturally, wherever there is lots of money flying about, there are people looking to exploit the process for a quick buck.
All social media platforms have a problem with bots and fake users to some degree, but Instagram seems to be an especially attractive target for them.
When a business pays an influencer to promote their product, they are paying for access to that influencer’s audience.
If that audience contains a significant number of fake users and bot accounts, then businesses are paying more than they should.
These fake users can emulate real users in a number of different ways and can be directed to engage in behaviors designed to artificially boost the number of users interacting with a post.
For example, a comment pod is a group of influencers who agree to all comment on and like one another posts.
This boosts the performance of content artificially but in a way that appears organic.
Comment pods game Instagram’s algorithms and trick them into promoting specific content.
While Instagram’s algorithms might see a piece of content that is gaining serious traction, it is actually only being promoted within a closed network.
Another widely-used tactic is botting. Botting involves the use of automated accounts – known as bots – in order to automatically perform pre-defined routines.
For example, an influencer could set up a network of bots to automatically log on to Instagram at different times and like and share the influencer’s content.
Instagram sees these as organic user interactions and will treat them as such.
More importantly, a business that wants to check that they are getting their money’s worth won’t be able to differentiate between real users and bots.
The Impact Of Fake Users
Influencer fraud used to be a niche issue that accounted for only a very small fraction of all the influencers on a platform.
Fast-forward to today and influencer fraud is costing businesses a staggering amount of money.
Some estimates have suggested that as many as 20% of the average mid-level influencer’s followers might actually be fake.
The influencers themselves aren’t necessarily involved in the deceit – many of them have no idea that they have picked up a significant number of artificial followers.
But in other cases, influencers are definitely in on the scam and are deliberately inflating their numbers so they can command a higher rate from businesses who want to hire their services.
Regardless of whether the influencer is in on the scam or not, the costs to advertisers remain the same.
It is remarkably simple for anyone to buy themselves a bunch of fake Instagram followers.
In some cases, these followers are real people who will agree to use the account for specific purposes.
However, increasingly commonly, these fake accounts are entirely automated.
Eliminating fake counts entirely is virtually impossible. While social media platforms have a good incentive to keep marketers happy and, therefore, reduce the rate of bot accounts on their platform.
It is still necessary for marketers to exercise vigilance when they engage the services of a social media influencer.
Fortunately, there are now services that will audit social media influencers on your behalf.
By combining these automated tools with an understanding of the warning signs to look out for, you can easily distinguish between a genuine influencer and one who is padding their numbers out.
How To Spot A Fake Follower
The most obvious sign that an influencer is not what they say they are is a large proportion of fake followers on their profiles. Some fake followers are incredibly easy to spot.
For example, some of the lazier accounts will follow thousands of other users without having any followers themselves.
They will also have only ever made a few posts if any.
These things alone cannot tell you whether a follower is fake or not, but they should be enough to get your suspicions going.
Another common mistake made by those who are new to using Instagram bots is to have the bot perform a bunch of actions as soon as it is deployed before going quiet again.
These bots will do just enough to convince the users they follow that they are real, then they will go quiet again, assuming that users won’t bother checking.
Social media influencer fraud is a growing problem, one that is costing marketers and businesses billions of dollars every year.
Combating this problem is not going to be simple. It will take social media platforms themselves cracking down in a big way.
Complaints from advertisers have induced social media platforms to call large numbers of suspected bots and fake users from their platforms in the past.
However, this game of whack-a-mole is unsustainable, and a proper long-term solution is needed.