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Yup, it’s real news. Some are faking it.

A budding influencer posts a picture at a big event. They seemed to be sponsored by Nike, or Coca-Cola, or that new coffee shop that got trendy overnight. The post has over 10,000 likes with a convincing caption tagging the brand. It seems real enough. But lo and behold, a lot of influencers are faking it. And it’s becoming a phenomenon.

It’s not unusual to hear a young generation of social media users wanting to gain popularity. From asking for free stuff to using bot followers, Instagram started as a badge of social status to a possible income generator. Brands have noticed a coming era of influencer marketing. It’s effective and cheap, if done right. However, more and more fake Instagram accounts are made everyday. Moreso, with fake sponsored content. So if you’re a brand looking to hire an influencer, you better validate their profile.

An Age of Influencer Marketing

It’s undeniable that real influencers have helped brands grow their market and revenue through social media sponsored content. However, whatever product or brand you’re trying to market, influencers are already trying. From books to makeup to clothes. It is said that for ‘every account with 20 to 30 thousand followers, there are 5,000 more influencers just like them’. Clearly, more people are trying out influencer marketing. But as the trend projects up, people have gambled their credibility for fame and fortune. And some marketers don’t know this.

Hiring an influencer with a fake instagram account, full of paid followers and bot engagements, would hurt your brand more.

The Cost of Fake Sponsored Content

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It’s not easy to spot fake sponsored content. People are getting edgier with their editing skills. They post pictures without the actual product. Some edit themselves looking like they went to a big event (looking at you Coachella). Which all seems normal as long as it gets conversion. But the worst kind comes from fake instagram accounts—without actual followers.

Recently, an influencer posted that despite have 2 million followers, she was only able to sell 36 T-shirts. The internet went crazy. And some say that the influencer bubble is about to burst. Some questioned the authenticity of her report (again, emphasizing that influencers would do anything). But then again, this prompted the question whether influencer marketing actually works.

Controversy aside, sponsored social media content isn’t always real. And getting an influencer that has questionable content would cost you. If don’t know the reason, here’s why:

  1. No Actual Market (and revenue) with Fake Followers

This is a no-brainer. Accounts with fake followers don’t have “a following” who care about their products. The biggest selling point of influencer marketing is the lifestyle and engagement. People want to be like these influencers. It’s no longer about a culture, but it’s about selling, ownership, and experience.

  1. Other Brands (possibly, your competition) Are Watching

Sponsored content means collaboration with brands. And brands have competition. Often, when brands see an influencer has collaborated with their competition, they wouldn’t hire them anymore. They could possibly hire another well-known influencer as a retort. And other brands are looking out for influencer scam.

When you fall for the scam, they could get ahead of your game. And this would cost you competition.

  1. People Are Also Watching

Nothing says social media like a controversy. Fake Instagram accounts usually don’t know how to handle Instagram following and engagement. These fake accounts could suddenly put up controversial social opinions and statements (whether literally or metaphorically) that would cost you PR. This has happened before. And it will cost you more for damage control than you know.

  1. No Control Over Sponsored Content

There has been online buzz about influencers who post ads without any sense. Soe influencers post ridiculous or downright stupid posts for products. Now this seems unlikely to you, but it happens. Look here.

You may have an agreement with the influencers to ask for approval before posting. But the lack of control over sponsored content means you’d trust the account enough to come up with something smart. And fake Instagram accounts with fake content would cost you time and money with that.

There are many things to consider with influencer marketing and collaboration. And although fake Instagram accounts are aplenty, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

MORE: What you have to consider before any Influencer Collaboration

How to Spot Fake Instagram Accounts

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And while the influencer marketing strategy already seems a handful, there are a couple of ways to spot fake sponsored content and bot accounts. This would require action from your team, a little bit of research, and a couple of tools that could help.

  1. Usually influencers would use the hashtag #paidad or something similar

But obviously, this isn’t as reliable as we’d hope it would. But then again, people wouldn’t just put that as a hashtag considering they could get reported. Influencers with high market often put #paidad on their captions. But to be sure, more research on influencers should be done.

  1. Check out brands if they listed influencers they have worked with

Since the fake sponsored content phenomenon is so common that listing influencers has been suggested. The posing threat of fake influencers are dangerous to the marketing industry. So, an expert said that listing down influencers that have actually collaborated with could help the online community.If this is available, it’s best to check and verify. If not, then we have a last option.

  1. Use an Instagram credibility tool like Instacredible

With digital problems come digital solutions. Instagram credibility tools have been developed to help digital marketers everywhere. Instacredible uses an AI algorithm to determine bought followers, fake engagement and use of bots. Often, fake Instagram accounts use the same pattern and post fake sponsored content. Tools like Instacredible would save time researching and validating influencers just for a simple social media posting.

Influencer marketing is here to stay. Whether a small scale business to big brands, you need to stay vigilant with upcoming trends. One wrong collaboration could cost you a lot of money and bad PR. However, with the right tools, you can take advantage of this marketing and walk away not getting scammed. Nothing says a successful marketing strategy without too much liability.

Interested with Instacredible cool stuff? Check out our website for updates and info

MORE: Say goodbye to Instagram Bots