More Than 10 Percent of Australian Instagram Influencers Are Buying Followers

New algorithms are getting better at detecting bots.

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14 March 2018, 1:50am

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Nothing on Instagram is real, obviously. It’s a social media platform where people post carefully curated and flattering images of themselves or their friends or their sponsored diet products. And nothing more than that. Literally by definition it is a construct.

Social media marketing firm Hypetap is putting up the numbers to prove it. Analysing thousands of popular Australian Instagram accounts, they’ve found that many of our most popular local influencers—those with follower counts between 8000 and 1.1 million—are buying more than 20 percent of their fans.

According to Hypetap, 13.3 percent of Australian Instagram influencers have high amounts of fake or inactive followers. To be honest, this is actually a bit lower than one might expect, and falls behind the global average. Internationally, 15.5 percent of Instagram influencers are followed by large numbers of fake accounts.

Without naming names, Hypetap have also taken note of a few incredibly bold Australian Instagram influencers who have clearly bought the vast majority of their fans. One popular influencer posting about travel is supposedly buying 96 percent of their followers; another account posting about men’s fashion is buying 86 percent of their followers.

Why does any of this matter? To you or I, it doesn’t. But Hypetap are concerned that advertisers are being fooled into paying people real money to advertise their products to an audience made up, essentially, of bots. Sad!

The agency has created an algorithm for auditing popular accounts for high proportions of fake followers, and hopes that advertisers will start using it to vet campaigns. So look forward to using a more brand-friendly Instagram in the near future, I guess.

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