Study has shown that 12% of UK influencers on Instagram still buy fake followers
Despite Instagram’s popularity it appears that large portion of influencers still refuse to adhere to the social networks rules in order to make money.
A study by independent campaign measurement firm CampaignDeus found that 12% of UK influencers have bought fake Instagram followers in the first six months of 2018. The findings were based on analysis of nearly 700,000 posts, identifying ‘bot-buyers’ by those with low UK followings, inexplicable jumps in follower count and subpar engagement rates.
It is common knowledge that you can acquire a large base of fake followers for as little as a couple of hundred pounds, and various brands recruiting for a wide pool of relevant influencers (if not exercising some due diligence) can be easily fooled into investing in accounts with faux follower counts.
The results of the report add poignancy to words by FMCG giant Unilever last month, whose CMO said that the industry required “urgent action” in order to rebuild trust among advertisers and remain sustainable, owed to the proliferation of fake followers, bots, fraud and “dishonest business models”.
Although even when accounts and followings are 100% authentic, the same report found that influencer marketing seems to be losing some of its inherent appeal among consumers, with engagement rates an average 11% lower on sponsored posts than organic.
However, the engagement gap between organic and paid content begins to close when follower counts decrease, from an average of 44% lower for sponsored posts by influencers with more than a million followers to just 17% among those with between 10K-100K followers.
In fact, the report reveals that micro-influencers on average achieve a 60% higher engagement rate for sponsored posts that those with 100K+ followers, indicating that brands should think twice before investing $1m at a single post by Kylie Jenner.
“The results finally shine some light on the scale of industry fraud and provide valuable insights for marketers looking to assess and optimise their investments,” commented CampaignDeus CEO, Muhsen Syed. “Whether it’s the size of the influencer or the size of the brand, small seems to be beautiful when it comes to return on investment.”
The findings are backed up by a new report from eMarketer that found 45.8% of cosmetic, luxury and fashion marketers in Europe and the US cited micro-influencers as the most effective tier of influencers this year, against 33.6% for macro-influencers and just 11.3% for celebrity accounts with over 1.5m followers.
“People connect with micro-influencers because of their authenticity and honest perspective,” Laura Brinker, vice president of beauty brand partnerships at Influenster, told eMarketer. “They feel as if they are a person just like them. And with authenticity at the core of what brands desire, they’ve started looking more toward smaller influencers with higher engagement rates.
“It’s a continued evolution,” she added. “People initially started turning to influencers because they felt they could get the voice of a person instead of a brand, and because – unlike celebrities – they weren’t getting paid. Today, brand partnerships are how many larger influencers make a living, so the very reason people started looking to them doesn’t necessarily exist anymore.”