The term social media influencer might not tickle everyone's fancy, but there is still some truth to it. The larger your social media follower base, the more influential you'd be. To secure potential sponsorships or even flourish their appeal, countless media influencers will do anything to artificially inflate their growth, including manufacture fake followers.
That'd be the case for Instagram influencers in Singapore, where US firm HypeAuditor exposed that over 47 per cent of them increased their Instagram data analytics through various techniques.
As at August this year, Instagram had more than 1.9 million users (33 per cent of the population) in Singapore and the influencer marketing industry is projected to be valued at US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion), as per HypeAuditor.
The study conducted by the firm was designed to track behaviours of influencers on Instagram and YouTube through an online analytics tool since 2018. What this means is that the audit tool uses artificial intelligence to detect the most common sorts of fraudulent activities, for instance, fake followers and engagement.
Based on HypeAuditor's classification of influencers, they have been distributed into different tiers:
- Mega-influencers and celebrities (over one million followers)
- Macro-influencers (100,000 to one million followers)
- Mid-tier influencers (20,000 to 100,000 followers)
- Micro-influencers (5,000 to 20,000 followers)
- Nano-influencers (1,000 and 5,000)
Standing at 33.8 per cent and 16.9 per cent, micro-influencers largely constitutes of those who buy followers and have fake engagements from Instagram bots respectively. Tapping onto ubiquitous tactics which are tedious to detect, such as buying comments and comment pods, it allows influencers to collaborate and boost each other's comments sections.
HypeAuditor CEO Alex Frolov said: "Over 17 per cent of Instagram influencers artificially inflate their comments. That is why most comments look inauthentic and spammy. About 9.9 per cent use comment pods — a group of Instagrammers who work together to enhance the engagement on their posts. They engage with each other, liking and writing comments on other pod members.
Budgets for influencer campaigns will certainly increase but brands should remember that influencer marketing without the proper checks and transparency will not work. Large numbers of followers can be fake."
With Instagram implementing measures, such as hiding like counts, we can only rely on time to see what other tricks influencers could pull out of their hats to outsmart future measures.