Nearly half of SG influencers found to have faked growth

Over 47% of influencers in Singapore use artificial methods of Instagram growth such as buying followers, likes and comments as well as using follow/unfollow and comment pods. According to a report by AI-powered analytics tool HypeAuditor, the highest percentage of fraud-free lies in nano-influencers. The report which looked at August 2019 and was released last week found that 61.37% of nano-influencers, defined as Instagram users who have between 1,000 and 5,000 followers, are most fraud-free.

On the other hand, approximately 10% mega influencers with over one million followers, and celebrities artificially inflate their engagement and number of followers.

Overall, the vast majority of influencers have tried some flawed methods for Instagram growth at least once.

"Influencers who have over 5,000 followers understand that their numbers correlate with their earnings, thus they intentionally inflate their metrics," said the report.

Growth, according to the report, can be in terms of following and engagement. Fraud can be committed in four ways: buying followers, using follow/unfollow, using comment pods, and buying likes and comments.

About 27% of influencers in Singapore buy followers and this fraud growth method is the most popular (33%) among micro-influencers with 5,000 to 20,000 followers. Nano-influencers comes next at 21.99%.

Meanwhile, 10.46% influencers in Singapore use automatic follow/unfollow spam tactic. It is most popular (15%) among mid-tier influencers who have between 20,000 and 100,000 followers. The report added: "Influencers who use this trick have the bigger percentage of non-reachable audience, who don’t see their posts, thus they have a lower reach."

Over 17% of Instagram influencers artificially inflate their comments, making most comments look inauthentic and spammy. About 9.9% use comment pods, which are groups of Instagrammers who work together to enhance the engagement on their posts. They engage with each other, liking and writing comments on other pod members. Investing time in comment pods make sense only for small accounts and hence, it is commonly used only by influencers who have less than 20,000 followers, said HypeAuditor. About 10.79% of nano-influencers use it.

“Budgets for influencer campaigns will certainly increase but brands should remember that influencer marketing without the proper checks and transparency will not work. Large numbers of followers can be fake," said Alex Frolov, CEO of HypeAuditor.

Influencer trends in Singapore

As of June 2018, Instagram has reached one billion monthly active users and 1.8 million of them comes from Singapore. There were 1, 972, 000 Instagram users in Singapore on August 2019, which accounted for 34.9% of its entire population.

The majority of Singapore influencers are micro-influencers (58.2%). Core influencers in Singapore are women aged between 18 and 24 years old. There are also a big amount of male influencers aged between 25 and 34 years old.

The average engagement of Singapore’s influencers is about the same as the worldwide average, but macro and mega-influencers receive less engagement. Nano-influencers have stronger connections with their audience, recording a higher engagement rate (ER) of 5.8%.

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The report collected and aggregated open data from a variety of sources, including market research agencies, internet, and social media companies, and news media. HypeAuditor processed the data by anonymising, sorting and structuring, cleaning and removing any irregularities, and enriching the data. It then transformed the data into intelligent estimations by using estimation and machine learning algorithms developed by its team of leading data scientists and influencer marketing experts.

(Photo courtesy: 123rf)