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Is Instagram marketing fraud really a thing?


JAN 24, 2018:

You may have noticed more and more articles discussing the rise of influencer fraud: ‘Are fake Instagram influencers deceiving brands?’ asked Mediakix, while Econsultancy suggested marketers are ‘underestimating the fraud threat to influencer marketing’. But is there any truth in it?

‘Influencer marketing fraud is a known problem,’ writes Digiday. ‘Authenticity is often manufactured: High engagement is often because of bots, for example. Influencers often engage in practices that are in a gray area such as Instagram pods.’ However now, the magazine explains, network amplification is the biggest problem – and influencer talent agencies are often the ones pushing the practice.

‘One influencer speaking under condition of anonymity told Digiday that his agent frequently “forces” him to engage with other social stars’ posts: He gets paid a small amount for reposting an Instagram photo. The network will calculate whatever engagement his repost gets. Even more interesting, because of the way platforms work, people are inclined to click through to the original Instagrammer’s profile, increasing the chance they end up liking the original post or even following that influencer as well.’

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Brands would collaborate with an influencer, whose representative would then encourage other influencers in the agency to reshare or interact with the campaign content, even if their audience was totally unrelated to the original post.

‘The worst thing that can happen to influencer marketing is this way of over commoditization of the industry — platformification, gamification and incentivizing influencers,’ says Collectively co-founder Alexa Tonner. ‘It devalues the industry. You’re paying for engagement that doesn’t reach an audience you want to reach, is not indicative of performance or value of that content. You’re not understanding the consumer you want.’
Influencers are also unhappy with these tactics. Just take a look at Chloe Morello’s 2017 video ‘EXPOSED: Beauty Bloggers Committing fraud!’ for the beginning of the backlash.

Do you notice Instagram marketing fraud? Share in the comments!

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