Why You Can't Buy Influence

Instagram is an unpredictable platform and there’s a lot of competition for paid campaigns. Unfortunately, some influencers resort to buying followers and likes to keep up with the pressure. Whether you’re a brand or agency, it’s important to research influencers before working with them, or else a campaign might not give the results that you were hoping for.

How it works

Here’s a little breakdown on how fake followers and engagement works. If you google “buy fake followers Instagram”, you’ll find a ton of sites that’ll do just that.

Fake followers: A package of followers (50, 300, 10,000, you name it) can be purchased and the account can gain them all in one day or spread over a couple of days

Fake likes: You can buy a certain number of likes for an individual post, or a set number of posts. You can have the fake likes kick in after a certain amount of minutes, or after a certain amount of organic likes on your post.

Fake views: Yup, you can even buy fake views on videos and it works the same as the fake likes

Spotting fake followers/engagement

To be honest, if you suspect someone and look into it, it’s easy to spot.

A great tool to use is Socialblade; you can see an increase in followers and subscribers for different social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch. Instagram following is pretty consistent; it doesn’t organically fluctuate from -10, to +200, to +20. Yes, if you get reposted from a brand or other influencers, you’ll gain a little more that day.

Below, you can see an example of an increase of fake followers over a span of 3 days. Instagram tries to block fake accounts, which is why there’s a big loss the days following.

Another way to spot fake accounts is just by scrolling through the recent likes or followers on an account. It’s pretty obvious… The usernames usually have some numbers and some letters with accents on them. A lot of the accounts are foreign and they usually follow over 1,000 people, with very few following back. In the screenshot below, it’s clear that these followers came as a package. All of the followers have fully uppercase last names; it’s quite unlikely that these are real.


Why this is a bad idea for influencers

Buying followers and engagement is a very unethical way of growing in this industry. It also ruins it for other influencers, and the whole industry when brands decide to work with fake influencers.

Firstly, the brand will most likely not get any valuable exposure from that influencer. This could cause them to rethink whether or not using influencers is an effective channel for their marketing.

You’re also taking the easy way out and taking collaborations from other influencers who are actually working hard at growing their profile. The thing to remember is that people talk, and once someone finds out that your account is fake, others are going to find out. If agencies or brands find out, they’re probably going to take you off their list, and you won’t get any work from them.

The truth is that once you start, you’re stuck in a cycle of buying followers and engagement. Look, the algorithm sucks and most people aren’t getting the numbers that they used to. You’re not alone. What we tell our creators is to focus on being innovative, consistent and honest.

Why this matters for brands and agencies

When brands decide to put their marketing dollars towards influencer marketing, it’s because they’re hoping to get exposed to a certain market.

With influencer marketing, you can create a campaign to: get brand exposure, generate sales, generate web traffic, increase social following, etc. If you work with influencers who buy their engagement or followers, you’re talking to a wall. Although the numbers could make it seem like the campaign was successful, there will be no actual return on investment.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the brands and agencies vet influencers in order to spend their money wisely. A well-executed social campaign with the right influencers will be a success.

We’ve found that there’s no one formula for executing campaigns. Depending on the client/client category and goals, we tailor the program. Have questions or comments? Hit us up: info@counterculture.agency