2.48 million profiles out of 8 million exhibit credible followers on Instagram: Report

A lot of the fake follower farming is happening in India, then Brazil and Indonesia. Suppliers of synthetic followers (humanly managed profiles of dubious quality, sold as real followers) are largely from Russia and Turkey," said Kalyan Kumar, Co-Founder, Klug Klug India.

By  Storyboard18Apr 19, 2024 2:17 PM
2.48 million profiles out of 8 million exhibit credible followers on Instagram: Report
Nearly two out of three (58.5 percent) Instagram profiles in India have spurious or fake followers in excess of 60 percent. (Image source: Unsplash)

Nearly two out of three (58.5 percent) Instagram profiles in India have spurious or fake followers in excess of 60 percent, an analysis by influencer marketing platform KlugKlug has shared.

"This alarming trend is especially prevalent in the beauty and fashion industry. These industries grapple with influencers resorting to deceptive practices, potentially leading to significant financial losses for brands investing in influencer marketing campaigns," said Kalyan Kumar, Co-Founder, Klug Klug India told Moneycontrol.

Only 2.48 million profiles out of the eight million audited exhibited credible and high-quality followers, the platform said.

India is the largest supplier and buyer of fake followers currently, noted Kumar.

India's influencer marketing industry, which is over Rs 1,800 crore in size, loses a significant amount of money due to fake follower fraud, which is affecting many legitimate creators, who are in a race to amplify reach and get the attention of brands.

"A lot of the fake follower farming is happening in India, then Brazil and Indonesia. Suppliers of synthetic followers (humanly managed profiles of dubious quality, sold as real followers) are largely from Russia and Turkey," said Kumar. "A lot of the fake follower buying is happening in the Middle East as well. The UAE has 40-50 percent incidence of fake followers among the top influencers, just like India. In Indonesia, 19 percent of followers are dubious on Instagram, which is 59 percent in India, as Indonesia sells more fake followers than it buys."

The cost of buying fake followers can be as low as Rs 8 to Rs 10 for 1,000 followers and can go up to Rs 50 per 1,000 followers on Instagram, Kumar said.

Kumar said that as the industry is growing, more categories of influencers in India are buying fake followers. "The micro and nano influencers have started buying fake followers and the problem is that brands and (influencer marketing) agencies decide an influencer on the basis of following. Creators buy followers to increase their reach, which can help them charge more from brands."

Influencers are categorised into five types based on their social media following. Nano influencers are those with 100 to 10,000 followers, while micro influencers command a following of 10,000 to a lakh. Macro and mega influencers have a following of 1 lakh to 1 million and over 1 million, respectively.

Brands lose 30-50 percent of their money on every campaign due to fake followers, Kumar said.

"Let’s take the example of the brand Sugar Cosmetics. In the last one year, 11,000 female profiles tagged the brand. However, only 3,000 profiles had a credible following. If today a brand picks 100 influencers, at least 30 of them are not going to be worth their money," Kumar said.

Out of the total size of India's Rs 1,800 crore influencer marketing industry, at least 25 percent, which is over Rs 400 crore, has gone down the drain, he added.

While fake followers are being bought by all types and size of influencers, a smaller fraction, who are larger influencers, also buy comments and likes, in what is known as engagement buying . "The big creators who monetise their content can afford to buy likes and comments, because with likes and comments one has to do it for every post unlike with fake followers," said Kumar. "Also, they buy likes and comments because they have to show higher engagement to brands. Most brands we have met do not know that influencers can buy fake likes and comments."

First Published on Apr 19, 2024 2:17 PM

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