Instagram mega-influencers and celebrities – those with more than one million followers – were the worst culprits, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of these accounts engaged in some form of fraudulent activity.
Nano-influencers – those with 1,000 to 5,000 followers – had the lowest proportion of fraud, occurring in 42 per cent of accounts (see chart below)
The most common tactics used included buying followers, likes and comments from click farms, buying story views, and engaging with comment pods – where a group of Instagram users get together and systematically engage with each other’s posts.
In some cases, influencers may be engaging in fakery without realising. HyperAuditor estimates that only 55 per cent of Instagram accounts are held by real people.
Despite the high prevalence of fraud and fakery, the report predicts the Instagram influencer market will grow by 15 per cent this year to a market capitalisation of $5.87bn.
The report found that for every dollar advertisers spend on Instagram influencer posts, they receive $4.87 of earned media value, while 62 per cent of marketers said they have seen an increase in sales when working with social media influencers.
The study also provided insights into audience demographics. It found that 81 per cent of Instagram’s global audience are aged 34 and under, with 43 per cent aged 25 to 34.
The study analysed more than 12 million Instagram accounts, 4.5 million YouTube channels and 5.2…