Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Do Social Media Cheaters Prosper?


I remember watching Lance Armstrong storm up a mountain during Stage 13 of the 2003 Tour de France only to get his handlebar caught on a spectator’s jacket and flip over..

He untangled himself from the wreck, got back on his bike and ascended that mountain at a pace that seemed out of this world — and it turned out it was..



With nearly 3 billion social media users worldwide – growing at an astonishing rate of more than one million per day – social media influencers have a large megaphone for impacting the world.

The top 10 most followed celebrities on Instagram — including Selena Gomez, Beyonce and Cristiano Ronaldo – collectively amass an estimated 954 million followers. That kind of power brings enormous responsibility.

Unfortunately, some folks on social networks have started to game the system for profit, primarily by buying fake accounts. An influencer can easily buy up to 100,000 more followers for a few hundred dollars on Instaboostgram, a small price to pay to significantly increase one’s rate and reel in premium brand sponsors.

With influencer marketing steadily becoming a multi-billion dollar industry, the temptation to cheat is real. It offers entirely new income streams with attractive global brands and lets young entrepreneurs raise their profiles on the world’s largest stage.



But the fallout is already tangible.

According to a study of millions of Instagram accounts conducted by my company, Fohr Card, nearly 10 percent of influencers buy followers to inflate their numbers, meaning nearly $80 million could already be wasted in brand dollars this year. If what these early warning signs show is left unchecked, deceptive practices could ruin social media’s promise of becoming a respected and authentic brand activation channel.

No one likes being duped. When the US Anti-Doping Agency published 1,000 pages of damning evidence against Lance Armstrong in 2012, the athlete lost eight sponsors in one day -- including Nike, his longest supporter since 1996.

A recent study reported that as much as 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted last year. So advertisers heavily consider follower count as the best gauge for reach. But solely relying on this metric is risky without proper policing, and no one wants to be the brand that partners with a Lance Armstrong.

Luckily, our industry can self-regulate as more sophisticated technologies emerge to tackle tougher problems. By taking on a fervent commitment to preserving influencers’ integrity, we put ourselves in a prime position to rid the category of bad actors before it’s too late. Left unchecked, brands could begin to lose trust in influencers and potentially leave influencer marketing as an engagement channel and allocate their dollars elsewhere.



Here are a few additional solutions:

Raise The Bar

A commitment to authenticity is the first step to fighting fraud. It’s time to weed out the cheats and prop up the real stars who have organically built solid followings over the years through hard work and high-quality content.

The practice of buying fake followers needs to be condemned and stopped by brands, influencers and the agencies that service them.

It’s imperative to raise public awareness of deceptive practices now so that stakeholders across the ecosystem know what to look out for and can incrementally address the issues. Dialogue around inauthentic accounts hasn’t gone mainstream but I see it becoming a robust topic in op-eds and conference panels in the future.

Guest Authored By James Nord. James is the CEO and Co-Founder of Fohr Card, an Influencer Marketing Platform that connects Brands and Influencers. Follow James on Twitter.




The practice of buying fake followers needs to be condemned and stopped by brands, influencers and the agencies that service them.

It’s imperative to raise public awareness of deceptive practices now so that stakeholders across the ecosystem know what to look out for and can incrementally address the issues.

Dialogue around inauthentic accounts hasn’t gone mainstream but I see it becoming a robust topic in op-eds and conference panels in the future.."

    • Authored by:
      Fred Hansen Pied Piper of Social Media Marketing at GetMoreHere.com & CEO of Millennium 7 Publishing Co. in Loveland, Colorado. I work deep in the trenches of social media strategy, community management and trends.  My interests include; online business educator, social media marketing, new marketing technology, skiing, hunting, fishing and The Rolling Stones..-Not necessarily in that order ;)
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