Instagram fraud has been a contentious issue for some years now. There are very few people in social media who are not rattled by disingenuous Instagram users – including brands, influencers, agencies and everyday users. The influencer marketing industry has issues, just like the PPC industry does. Millions of Google ads, Facebook ads and other digital display advertising spots are affected by bot click fraud on a regular basis.

Also, Instagram remains rife with bots, and users who actively purchase followers and engagement. Despite various attempts to clamp down on the issue, little seems to have changed.

At the end of 2018, Instagram vowed to reduce inauthentic activity once and for all. The social media platform released a serious announcement, assuring brands and users that it would work to put a stop to inauthentic activity. It also listed the specific strategies that the platform will put in place to achieve this.

Read on for a breakdown of the announcement, and to find out exactly what this might mean for your brand.

Identifying Instagram Fraud

In the announcement, Instagram described how often brands and professional social media influencers now collaborate on Instagram. The social platform mentioned how beneficial influencer partnerships can be for both brands. It also noted that such relationships can bring value to everyday users who enjoy content on the platform.

However, Instagram did not shy away from the reality of inauthentic activity, either. In fact, the company rightfully and specifically noted that fraudulent activity can have a hugely negative impact on influencer collaborations. They recognised that such activity can prevent the existence of ‘real experiences and genuine interactions’ on the app.

These observations by Instagram have been described as ‘bang on the money’. With so many bots on Instagram, it can be difficult to know which accounts are genuine, and which are fake. Moreover, with so many influencers opting to purchase fake followers and engagements, rather than working for the real thing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to take influencers at face value. This is a particularly concerning issue for brands, who clearly do not want to invest in influencers that are not who they claim to be.

So, it’s definitely positive that Instagram has clearly highlighted the frightening reality of this issue. But what is the platform now planning to do about it?

Instagram fraud

Preventing Instagram Fraud

In the announcement, Instagram claims they will now make a start on reducing the amount of inauthentic activity on their platform. They said that they will ‘begin removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments’. To do this, Instagram will target profiles that use third-party apps that offer opportunities to boost an account’s popularity. Instagram claimed that newly-developed tools have the ability to identify such accounts.

Instagram has also explained the process that will accompany the use of this new tool. First, Instagram claimed that they will issue a user an in-app message if their tool is able to detect inauthentic activity associated with the account. This message will explain that Instagram has removed the account’s inauthentic likes, follows and comments. The message will also request that the user change their password, in order to secure their account. This is because many third-party apps request usernames and password when users sign up, and then use this information for fraudulent purposes. They sometimes use the information to give inauthentic likes, follows and comments to others. This came as a huge shock for some users, who were not aware of what they were signing up for. However, Instagram assured users that changing login details prevents these apps from retaining access to their account.

The Stance on Instagram Fraud

Ultimately, Instagram has long been against the existence of inauthentic activity on its site. Third-party apps that generate inauthentic followers and engagements have long been against the platform’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines. As we all know, however, this hasn’t changed the reality of the situation for Instagram users, and brands employing influencer marketing strategies. But now, things seem to be looking up.

Finally, Instagram is taking a very clear stance against fraudulent activity. This speaks volumes and sends a very clear message to all in the industry, and all who use third-party apps to generate inauthentic activity.

Most importantly, however, Instagram is now also developing real tools, and taking concrete measures in order to retain the community’s authenticity. Some critics remain sceptical about the real impact this will have on the platform. After all, bots and inauthentic activity will not disappear overnight. But whatever the critics say, this is a huge step forward for both Instagram fans and brands alike.

Instagram fraud

The Biggest Hurdle for Brands and the Solution

It’s no secret that fraudulent activity affects the Instagram experience for all. And for brands that are keen on upscaling their influencer marketing activity, it can be hugely concerning. But this latest announcement from Instagram shows that things are looking positive. We’re hoping for even more crackdowns on Instagram fraud, as well as similar progress from other platforms throughout the year.

Despite this, there is no telling if influencer marketing fraud will ever become a thing of the past. And regardless of if it does, large authentic followings do not always translate into influence.

The biggest hurdle for brands in 2019 is finding effective influencers who are actually thought leaders in their relative niche – Influencers with large authentic followers that are going to act. Influencers with genuine followings that are genuinely influenced. Identifying effective influencers is the most important factor in a successful influencer strategy. And that’s why our influencer marketing agency made it our mission to help brands find the effective and relevant influencers who will actually have an impact on your ROI, Chromo-Influencers™.

Chromo-Influencers are influencers that pass PMYB’s 5 Stage Chromo-Analysis process – a solid vetting process that is based off real-life campaign data. You can learn more about our 5 Stage influencer selection process by contacting us today.

In the meantime, don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest social media news and insights here on our blog.


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