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“Follower fraud” widespread among Singapore’s influencers

In order to attract brands and advertisers, some influencers cheat by artificially boosting their statistics through methods like buying followers, using the "Follow/Unfollow" trick, buying likes and comments, buying story views and using "Comment Pods"

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Singapore — One should think twice about buying into influencers with thousands of followers since almost half of Singapore’s influencers use unsavoury methods to boost their follower and engagement numbers.

According to a recent study by social media analytics tool HypeAuditor, 47 percent of Singapore influencers use artificial methods to increase their Instagram followers, likes, comments, and overall engagement.

HypeAuditor used artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify social media fraud.

“The fraud starts when these impatient influencers connect with brands to advertise their products and services. Usually a brand agrees to pay a fee based on the number of followers the influencer has and ends up wasting their time and money.”

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The study identified five categories of influencers:

  1. Mega-influencers and Celebrities (more than 1M followers) have a distant relationship with followers and have the highest reach but lowest trust rate.
  2. Macro-influencers (100K – 1M followers) are famous among the local community with high-quality content about particular topics.
  3. Micro (5K-20K followers) and Mid-tier influencers (20K-100K followers) they have more niche but highly-engaged audience. Majority of Singapore influencers (58.2%) fall under this category.
  4. Nano-influencers (1K-5K followers) are “regular consumers” with little influence but quite passionate about their interests and content.

It turns out, macro-influencers in Singapore commit the highest rate of Instagram fraud at 56 percent.

Nano-influencers (having 1,000 to 5,000 followers) were the least involved in cheating their numbers at a mere 38 percent.

With Instagram hiding likes, how will “influencers” measure their influence?

To easily attract brands and advertisers, some influencers cheat by artificially boosting their statistics through the following methods:

  • Buying followers,
  • Using the “Follow/Unfollow” trick
  • Buying likes and comments,
  • Buying story views,
  • Using “Comment Pods”

“Follow/Unfollow” refers to a strategy where influencers automate a “mass-following” on users hoping for some to follow back. The influencer will then unfollow the users once they get what they need.

Comment Pods are social media or chat groups set up by the bloggers and influencers in order to mutually enhance likes and comments engagement on  their pages. They are usually the same group of users that comment on each other’s posts in similar ways.

HypeAuditor identified suspiciously inauthentic comments with the following characteristics:

  • Consist of emojis only or words like: wow, cool, fantastic etc.
  • Are monosyllabically simple and irrelevant,
  • Consist of the mention of another account only.

The report stated that Instagram’s influencer marketing industry is estimated to be worth S$5 to S$10 billion by 2020. Influencers that cheat their way to higher numbers and fake popularity are also cheating brands and smaller companies who may not be getting their money’s worth.-/TISG

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