Almost 40% of all Instagram influencers in India have been scammed by software vendors offering them tools to increase their subscriber count and engagement on the platform. A study by HypeAuditor, an influencer verification and performance tracking platform, found that 64% of all influencers with over 1 million subscribers were defrauded through these bogus software services.
In an unpublished report, titled “The State of Instagram Fraud in India,” HypeAuditor said influencers use software tools and hire Social Media Marketing Panels (SMMs) because they are promised real followers and organic activity on their account. There are various tools available to online content creators, some of which improve the profile of users and subscribers called “ subscriber growth ” or “ comment modules ” which increase the number of comments on a post to boost commitment. Some of these tools also offer influencers to “top up” their number of subscribers, in case they lose their account or the size of their network.
According to the report, these content engagement tools are mostly bots pretending to be real comments and followers. another account, ”he says.
Indians have taken to social media platforms to amplify their SOS posts seeking help in recent months as the second wave of the pandemic spread across the country.
MediaNama reported that some Instagram influencers were paid to amplify posts from a plasma portal run by the Indian Influencer Network (IIN), a platform of 15,000 influencers in more than 65 cities. And in turn, they would also amplify SOS requests for blood plasma from their subscribers or the online community at large. The IIN would charge a few startups and brands, which would go to the influencer network and partner NGOs.
India slightly below world average
In total, 38.85% of influencers in India are affected by fraud, the report says. This is less than the world average of 55%, but still a very high figure, he added. HypeAuditor analyzed over 132,000 Instagram accounts with over 1,000 followers using a machine learning model that analyzed over 53 models for suspicious content engagement tools.
Source: State of Instagram Fraud Report in India
HypeAuditor found that 64% of accounts with over a million subscribers, who purchased these services, were defrauded by these rogue software vendors. In contrast, 63% of accounts with 100,000 to 1 million subscribers were defrauded. The report added that the number of influencers using content engagement tools was higher in the 100,000-1 million bucket compared to influencers with over a million subscribers.
The cost of the services can range from $ 25 (Rs 1,818) to $ 50 (Rs 3,600) for 1,000 actual subscribers. “An influencer deceived by the promise of these services to bring in real people, not bots, makes a purchase. Then the growth service takes $ 25 per 1,000 subscribers from the influencer and buys 1,000 bots in the SMM panel for $ 3 (Rs 200), which it sends to the influencer account, ”the report says.
Majority of influencers have inauthentic comments
HypeAuditor said mega-influencers with over 1 million followers are more likely to have inauthentic comments on their account. “60.97% of this type of influencer in India have inauthentic comments,” the report says. He added that 29% of Indian influencers have more posts where more than 30% of comments are inauthentic.
Take, for example, a tool called “comment pods” that creates a micro-community for engagement on a post. These bots “ like ” and comment on the influencer Instagram posts to increase engagement and audience numbers. While this helps increase the account’s engagement rate, the comments don’t come from an engaged audience and don’t show real users’ level of interest in content shared by influencers, the report says.
“Some influencers may purposely buy comments on services, realizing or not that the comments are not from real people, others may participate in comment modules or host Give Away,” the report said.