Is influencer marketing becoming safer for brands?

Influencer marketing

Fresh news from camp Instagram suggests more protection from influencer marketing fraud may be en route.

Code hacker Jane Manchum Wong believes the world’s fastest-growing social platform is about to start contacting accounts that have bought followers.

It’s one of the biggest concerns in the influencer marketing world. Fake follower counts even went so far as to turn Unilever off the idea of influencer marketing altogether.

If influencer trust is falling amongst the public, brands are arguably even more sceptical because they struggle to prove ROI. Without due diligence checks they can easily be duped into enlisting an influencer who paid for, rather than earned, their reach.

So how is Instagram looking to improve things within influencer marketing?

According to Wong, code has been added and could soon be trialled that will deliver messages to account holders found to have paid third-parties to provide followers. The messages are:

‘You may have shared your username and password with an app offering likes or followers… …continuing to do so may result in your account being further impacted’

’Change your password to stop these apps accessing your account’


‘Using apps to gain followers isn’t allowed’

Isn’t buying followers illegal anyway?

Sadly not. Clearly, if a brand pays for an influencer marketing campaign based on falsified reach and engagement levels it could constitute fraud. However, it only breaks Ts & Cs and community rules. Technically there’s nothing criminal about buying a following.

It’s just a message though, right?

The trick is to hit shady so-called ‘influencers’ and the dodgy firms that have been profiting from influencer marketing and its darker side where it hurts. And by that we mean disrupting the account itself.

By warning users they have been found to have breached community rules a clear message is delivered. The powers that be are watching, know what’s going on, and could take action to correct the situation. This could potentially harm the chances of securing lucrative influencer marketing deals.

One step further

It’s a logical next step in the fight to clean up the reputation of the influencer marketing sector. It also comes in the wake of mass culls on networks, which have seen millions of fake accounts closed down in the last year or so.

The question is, though, will these steps be enough to win back the level of naive trust we saw in this practice, say, five years ago? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, have a look at our post on effective ways to measure influencer marketing.


Looking for more in-depth influencer marketing support?

Get in touch with Smoking Gun to discuss how we can help.