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Fraudulent influencers: the big scam of 2018


Fraudulent influencers: the big scam of 2018


1 “Mom, when I grow up I want to be an influencer”
2 Alamudena: the H2H experiment
3 Devumi: the followers factory
4 The problem in numbers
5 Why don’t social media companies react?
Last Updated September 18th, 2019 at 10:55 am

There have always been people who manage to influence others for various purposes (see our article on Edward Bernays ). But the concept of influencer is recent and refers to a limited and specific phenomenon: personalities who manage to have a great reach on social networks and turn their lifestyle into a trend. In recent years, these people have become fundamental pawns of digital Australia Mobile Number Database .

In a 2018 survey, the Association of National Advertisers found that 75% of brands used influencers for promotional purposes, and almost half planned to increase their spending in 2019. Yet only 36% of companies viewed those. campaigns as effective. This is partly due to a growing phenomenon: As the influencer market becomes more competitive, many have resorted to fraudulent conduct to maintain popularity. From falsifying followers to buying engangement, the bottom line: companies invest money that generates no return.

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“Mom, when I grow up I want to be an influencer ”
Influencers are the popular boys and girls on social media: what they say is replicated everywhere, what they wear becomes fashion. It is enough for an influencer to upload a photo eating in a restaurant so that in a short time it is filled with reservations. Thus, what began as a social and leisure phenomenon quickly became a million-dollar industry. The field of influencers is increasingly professionalized. To such an extent that, last year, the Autonomous University of Madrid announced the creation of the first university course to be an influencer. This “vocation” is one of the most chosen by teenagers around the world. Free dinners and hotel stays, trendy clothes, fame and money just by posting photos. It sounds like a very attractive existence, but if popularity has no real sustenance,



Alamudena: the H2H experiment
The influencer Betting Email List agency H2H (Human to Human) noticed this problem and decided to conduct an experiment. They hired a Spanish actress named Alamudena to play the role of influencer, created an account for her, created content, and planned to buy followers, likes, and comments. All Alamudena followers would be bots and therefore have no value for brands. The aim of this experiment was to demonstrate how easy it is to artificially inflate the arrival of an influencer.

The experiment yielded alarming results: despite the fact that all her followers were false, Alamudena was hired by brands and accessed free services in exchange for promotion. As H2H demonstrated, it is very easy and cheap to buy followers. This represents a huge temptation for micro influencers looking for rapid growth. With just a few euros they can create a giant community and access all the benefits of being an influencer, without actually being one.


Devumi: the followers factory
In his research “The Follower Factory” , the newspaper The New York Times exposed the black market followers. It’s about an obscure American company called Devumi that has made millions of dollars by selling Twitter followers. The fan pack is offered on the premise that the followers are authentic. However, the New York Times investigation revealed that most are automated bots. These bots are created by duplicating the information of real accounts, altering only a minimum data that goes unnoticed.

Based on an estimated inventory of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold multiple times, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers. According to an analysis of data from the Times, at least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile photos, places of origin and other personal data of actual Twitter users, including minors.

Devumi mentions a Manhattan building as his address, but the property owner said he had never rented a space there. | Photo: Dave Sanders for The New York Times
The problem in numbers
12 of the 35 million invested have not had any return due to fraud.
One out of every two campaigns is a scam.
One in four followers of an influencer is fake.
One in five likes is bought.
Of the 350 influencers analyzed, 184 exceed 25% fraud.
Source: Annual Report Influencer Marketing in Spain of the H2H agency.

Why don’t social media companies react?
Given how easy it is to incur this type of fraud, a question arises: why don’t social networks take action? Some critics point out that Twitter has a business incentive not to remove ghost accounts. In the past two years, the company has struggled to generate the user growth seen by rivals like Facebook and Snapchat. The market value of a social network depends on the number of active users. You see the problem: if they remove all the fake users, they lose market value.

However, the severity of the breach – large-scale social identity theft – forced Twitter to carry out a massive purge of fake accounts last year. As expected, this action put them at a disadvantage compared to other social networks, where fraud persists. Due to the little response from these companies, new analytical tools emerged that do respond to the problem. HypeAuditor is software that scans influencer accounts for fradulent behavior. Different brands have used this software to certify the authenticity of the influencers they hire.

A standard HypeAuditor scan.
Despite these problems, influencer marketing continues to grow. Last year alone, the number of campaigns increased 400%. As of today, it represents 2% of investment in digital marketing, which gives it a huge margin for growth. For our part, we hope that the sector becomes professional and that social networks implement transparency protocols. What do you think will happen with influencer marketing? We read them.

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About Last entries
Marina Do Pico
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Marina Do Pico
Community Manager at MD Marketing Digital
Hello! I’m Marina, I study Writing Arts at the National University of the Arts. I like to write, read and make music. I have been in digital marketing for a while, writing content for SEO, managing social media and PPC accounts. I hope my articles help you to know more about digital marketing.
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