Our State of Influencer Marketing 2019: Exploring influencer fraud on Instagram has just arrived and this is the most complete research on influencer fraud so far.

For this study, we have analyzed over 4M influencers on Instagram and over 500M posts and here are 5 key takeaways from that research.

1. The Instagram audience is becoming older

According to our stats, 45.43% of Instagram users in 2019 are aged between 25 and 34. Over the past few years, the average age of the users has increased markedly. According to Statista, in 2012 the primary Instagram audience was aged between 18 and 24 (35%) and only 33% was aged between 25 and 34.

Age - The State of Influencer Marketing
Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of December 2018, by age group and gender

Influencers are especially effective for reaching Millennials and the older generation of Generation Z.

2. The average Engagement Rate is growing

If we compare the Instagram Engagement Rate in 2018 and 2019, we will see that it has grown. For all groups of influencers, the ER has increased by 22-25%, except influencers who have between 5K and 20K followers, their ER increased only by 6%.

How Engagement Rate changes over time
How Engagement Rate changes over time

3. Only 39.98% of influencers are fraud-free

The scale of influencer fraud is impressive. Over 60% of influencers use inauthentic methods to grow their followers and engagement. The study shows that only 39.98% of influencers are fraud-free.

The lowest rate of fraud-free influencers was detected in Italy (33.34%), Germany (36.72%), and India (36.02%).

Percentage of Fraud-Free influencers by country
Percentage of Fraud-Free influencers by country

The highest percentage of fraud-free we find in the group of influencers who have between 1K and 5K followers (53.78%).  Influencers who have over 1 million followers and between 20K and 100K followers have the lowest authenticity rate. In the first case, we believe it’s due to the big amount of spam on Instagram, in the second, due to inauthentic methods of growth.

Percentage of Fraud-Free influencers by followers number
Percentage of Fraud-Free influencers by followers number


4. 22.46% of influencers have suspicious growth anomalies

This number indicates that 22.46% of influencers use suspicious techniques to grow their number of followers. In most cases they just buy them.

The percentage of Growth Anomalies
on influencers accounts by followers number
The percentage of Growth Anomalies on influencers accounts by followers number

It’s worth noting that’s it’s impossible to buy real and active followers, all these new followers are just bots, inactive accounts or followers that were motivated by some amount of money to follow an influencer. They wouldn’t stay long with them and unfollow as soon as possible.

We also have detected a significant percentage of influencers who use follow/unfollow. Over 15.83% of creators use this spam method to grow their follower number.

5. 38.23% of influencers use suspicious methods to grow their comment numbers.

There are two popular methods that influencers use to boost their comment numbers:

  • Buying comments,
  • Participating in Comment Pods.
Percentage of influencers who have
Inauthentic Comments by followers number
Percentage of influencers who have Inauthentic Comments by followers number

Comment Pods are groups of influencers collaborating to run up their activity. They often gather on Facebook, Telegram or other chats. An influencer from such a pod would make a post and throw a link to the chat with a comment such as: “likes, comments (3 words and more), saved.” And then they would go up the chat to see the last 10 tasks from other bloggers and carry them out.

Engagement Pods are widespread among influencers who have between 1K and 20K followers. They can easily boost their engagement rate using this method because each new comment will affect the ER. When the amount of followers is bigger, comments pods have less impact on the ER and they become non-effective. Medium and macro-influencers prefer to buy comments instead of wasting their time in engagement groups.

We’ve noticed widespread Comment Pods in Italy (17.34%), Germany (15.82%), France (13.84%), and Russia (13.01%). Influencers in the US, India, Brazil, and Japan prefer to buy comments instead of using pods.

Percentage of influencers who use
Comment Pods by сountry
Percentage of influencers who use Comment Pods by сountry

This is only a small snippet of what you will learn from our research. Download your complimentary copy of the full report and learn valuable insights that can help enhance your 2019 influencer marketing strategy.

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