What The Recent Instagram Scandal Means For Influencers

Have you ever considered using influencers in your marketing strategy? It’s a fairly commonplace marketing strategy in today’s world.


But how do you estimate the value of an influencer, especially if you’re a business owner? Well, most will take a look at how many followers the influencer has and take a stab in the dark at how many people they’ll reach; 100K followers? Nothing to be sniffed at. 600K? You’ll reach a decent amount of people. 2 Million? Your brand will be exposed to a massive audience!


However, before you get too excited, what if you found out up to 60% of their followers could be fake?


What happened?

In a recent study by ICMP (source), numerous celebrity influencers with over 50 million followers-a-piece, were found with millions upon millions of fake followers. Some of the most prolific of these celebrities are listed below:


  • Ellen Degeneres – followers: 74,400,000 Fake followers: 58%
  • Kourtney Kardashian – followers: 80,400,000 Fake followers: 49%
  • Taylor Swift – followers: 119,500,000 Fake followers: 41%
  • Ariana Grande – followers: 158,900,000 Fake followers: 46%


In some extreme cases, there are up to 78 million fake followers on an account. Almost half of all followers for larger accounts are revealed to be bots.


Of course, the celebrities listed are extremely high profile and are likely not responsible for the obscene amount of fake followers. In contrast, for smaller influencers hoping to achieve wealth and notoriety on social media, it’s not unlikely that they ‘bought’ their followers to deceptively boost their value as a marketing asset.


The effect on businesses

Globally, influencer marketing spend is up to $8.5 billion in 2019, and the industry is forecast to hit up to $10 billion in 2020 (source). It is estimated that at least 15% of an influencer’s followers are faked; defrauding the businesses that pay influencers based upon their follower count.


Because of this, it is estimated that the level of fraud in influencer campaigns is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020.


What now?

We imagine that this revelation will bring about a lot more scrutiny in the influencer market and (hopefully) a reduction in their prices. Influencers are a hot topic, with most calling out for some form of regulations within the space, and this might just be the thing to force the hand of tech giants to bring method to the madness.


For more on the everchanging world of digital marketing, click here!

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