A whopping 16 million accounts of Indian influencers on Facebook-owned Instagram are fake, revealed a new study, suggesting such people are artificially boosting "vanity metrics" that marketers often use while selecting influencers, including followers and engagement.
The research by Swedish e-commerce start-up A Good Companyand data analytics firm HypeAuditor jointly assessed 1.84 million Instagramaccounts across 82 countries.
It found the three regions with the most fakes on theFacebook-owned platform are the US (49 million), Brazil (27 million) and India(16 million).
"The Instagram fraud is estimated to cost marketersclose to $750 million globally in wastage in a market now worth about $1.7billion.
Marketing firm Mediakix estimated that influencer marketingon Instagram alone could reach $2 billion by the end of this year from $1billion in 2017.
"Companies are pouring money into influencer marketing,thinking that they are connecting with real people and not Russian bots. Inreality, they are pouring money down the drain and giving away free products tosomeone who acquired a mass-following overnight," Anders Ankarlid, CEO ofA Good Company, told PRWeek.
The rise in popularity of social media platforms has openedup a relatively new advertising economy driven by "influencermarketing".
While Instagram has over a billion monthly active usersglobally, its parent company Facebook has over 2.38 billion monthly activeusers and over 16 million people log in to Twitter every day. WhatsApp isanother powerful platform which has over 300 million users in India.
The kind of reach that social media platforms have can offersome idea about how big the influencer marketing business could be.
With a wide array of social media analytics tool availableonline, it is not difficult to spot the right influencers for their advertisingprogrammes. However, in India, it is difficult to distinguish between a paidpost and a personal opinion owing to lack of user awareness.In May, personal data of millions of celebritiesand influencers were allegedly exposed on Instagram and a massive database wastraced to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox.