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There is a growing number of aspiring Instagram stars, all of which just want to look amazing to brands to get those sponsorships. They’ve gone as far as creating fake sponsored posts, hoping it will bring attention and lead to actual deals in the future.

This trend can be seen all over Instagram as bloggers post products that they actually purchased themselves but tag the brand and caption it as if they were paid to make the post.

In their posting of these ‘sponcon’, these Instagram bloggers are in pursuit of enticing brands who wouldn’t normally go for sponsoring influencers they haven’t worked with in the past.

One of these is lifestyle influencer Sydney Pugh who is based in Los Angeles. She has admitted to doing these fake sponsored posts like this recent post on a local coffee shop that makes it look like she was paid for the post.

Instead of creating a caption like: I need coffee to get through the day, she went for ‘I love Alfred’s coffee because of A, B, C.”

Sydeny Pugh created a fake sponsored post with coffee from a local coffee store. Source:

They say that it’s quite an easy task because everyone’s feed is already filled with sponsored posts and these are very formulaic in captions so it gets easy to copy even if there’s no payment being done.

Another blogger, Palak Joshi from Mumbai also confessed on making fake sponsored posts on her stories and she doesn’t want to reveal it to her followers.

She said in her interview with the Atlantic that though it looks sponsored, it’s really not. The follower just assume so because of caption and that every product is sponsored even if it really isn’t.

Palak Joshi, a instagrammer from Mumbai, uses her Instagram stories to create fake sponsors. Source:

The creation of these false sponsorships have gone up so high that influencers have started using real sponsored posts “as a verification badge”. This came from the Tiktok Star CJ OperAmericano.

CJ OperAmericano admits that influencers now use real sponsored posts as verification and rates for posts are lowering because of free advertising.

It has actually brought upon a huge struggle for real influencers. With the high amount of free advertising brands can get from these free posts, brands lower the pay they give to the real ones and some don’t even get any at all.

When CJ lost a campaign due to another influencer offering to do it for a way cheaper price, she tells the Atlantic that the people who do this probably don’t know that they’re just lowering the standard for everyone altogether.

Even regular users of apps are unable to tell the difference between fake and real sponsored posts, even brands are confused by it all. Despite the requirement for Instagrammers to now disclose which posts are sponsored, most regulars won’t bother checking these hashtags of #ad or #sponsored and just assume that these are being paid for.

Kim Kardashian and other celebrities use hashtag #ad and use the ‘paid partnership’ feature.

Another trick but a lot more wasteful one that was seen by research is the ‘snap and send back’ culture. Shoppers were surveyed and one in every ten admitted to purchasing clothes and taking a photo in it for social media and returning it immediately after. This is due to the view that it’s wrong to be seen in the same outfit twice.

The shocking part is that most of these are actually 35-44 year olds wherein one in five of them did this trick according to the Barclaycard research.

As a brand, it is up to you as to what your view in this is. It’s good on the part that it doesn’t actually make use of fake followers but you should also do more careful study as to how their followers respond to these posts and if they’re influence is working.