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Cheating on Instagram

Instagram has become an attractive platform for influencers, content creators and brands alike and it’s the easiest way to forge connections with their target audience base, however how many of these collaborations are genuine and have a true sense of engagement?

  • Hit Search has uncovered the true number of influencers tempted by follower-buying services
  • 98 per cent surveyed are aware of influencers who have bought followers and frequently work on branded campaigns
  • 51.5 per cent of influencers think brands and marketing agencies need to ramp up their efforts to identify influencers who have purchased Instagram followers

Cheating on Instagram through buying fake followers and engagement activity is becoming big business. Hit Search investigated the ecosystem of fake followers, likes and comments, how easily the practise is detected by fellow content creators and how in-house PR teams and marketing agencies are perceived to view the practise within the industry.

The ugly side of content creation and influencer marketing is yet to be discussed in an open forum, with the number of influencers and content creators falling foul to improper means of growth and cheating their way to the top, being on the rise.

Andy Donaldson, director at Hit Search, comments: “Influencer marketing is a service that we recognise as being on the rise, with our client portfolio wanting their piece of the pie and a greater understanding on how to collaborate with influencers in a natural, organic way. We conducted this survey to make brands and content creators aware of the back-hand tactics that take place, and begin to open the conversation around the buying of followers, why it’s morally incorrect and does not provide a true indication of an influencer’s ROI when participating in a branded campaign.”

Our 2019 Influencer Survey revealed some exciting findings, most of which suggest that brands and media agencies are not savvy to content creators purchasing fake followers to grow their reach. The dishonesty is not apparent either, often leading to disingenuous collaborations taking place.

Key Takeaways

Influencers are readily aware of those who buy fake followers

  • 98 per cent surveyed are aware of influencers who have bought followers and frequently work on branded campaigns
  • 2 per cent are not aware of bot activity or platforms that sell fake followers

We asked if the influencers surveyed would be tempted to buy take followers in order to secure more brand collaborations.

  • 3 per cent of influencers would be willing to buy fake followers in order to increase their number of brand collaborations
  • 9.9 per cent have considered it, in order to advance their career
  • 87.1 per cent of those surveyed would not be tempted and disagree with the concept

Interestingly, there is a divide on the number of participants who think in-house PR teams and marketing agencies can tell when an influencer has bought followers

  • 48.5 per cent think brands and agencies can spot influencers with fake followers
  • 51.5 per cent of those surveyed don’t think PR agencies and influencer marketers can spot fraudulent accounts

A huge 64.4 per cent of those surveyed believe brands are aware of influencers with fake follower counts, but proceed to collaborate with the perpetrators on paid and unpaid campaigns

  • 15.8 per cent of those surveyed think brands are wising up to accounts with fake engagement and followers
  • 17.8 per cent think PR agencies are more proactive in checking for an authentic follower count than brand in-house PR & outreach teams
  • Only 2 per cent of those surveyed think that neither marketing agencies or in-house brand teams actively spot fake followers

Overwhelmingly, 54.5 per cent of survey participants think the fashion influencer niche is most susceptive to investing in bots and faking their Instagram following

  • 21.8 per cent don’t think the use of bots is inclusive to one niche
  • 14.9 per cent think beauty influencers are second most likely to fake their follower count
  • Male grooming influencers, lifestyle and parenting were also referenced as being likely to buy followers to increase their appeal

54.5 per cent of influencers believe that social media engagement, such as likes and comments, is far more important than an authentic follower count

  • 38.6 per cent believe in-house PR teams and marketing agencies deem social engagement somewhat important but the emphasis is on the follower count
  • Just 6.9 per cent think the number of likes and comments accrued on an influencers post is less important than the number of followers

How many of the influencers and content creators surveyed have actively bought fake followers on Instagram?

  • 98 per cent of participants have not directly purchased fake followers or used bots on their social platform
  • 2 per cent say they have historically bought fake followers on Instagram

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