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The (Un)Impressive Life of Fake Instagram Influencers
Tales from the Online Marketing Crypt #11
Why You Can’t Get Millions of Instagram Followers (Unless You’re Faking It)
Are you like me and easily attracted? Or does Shania Twain’s song, “That Don’t Impress Me Much” play as your typical anthem?
Maybe the way I was raised made me appreciate certain accomplishments. We didn’t have much growing up so the seemingly “rich” neighborhood kids would always impress me with their Etch-a-Sketches and Lite-Brites that my brother and I would only dream of having!
Even now, I am impressed when I see new neighbors move in a Tesla and take cruise ship holidays twice a year (before Covid).
I am impressed when I see people and businesses win prestigious awards.
I was impressed when I went to the gym and witnessed the incredible determination from people building their strength and endurance.
The list goes on.
But then there is social media.
I used to be impressed when I saw someone with thousands of followers. I thought, Wow, that person must really know their stuff! See how many want to learn or enjoy or be inspired by them!
But not so much. (Please Shania.)
The other day we watched an HBO social docu-experiment called “Fake Famous”. Did you see it? It was eye opening to say the least.
In it, they conducted a research study to see if they could create Instagram influencers from virtually unknown people.
And it was scary to witness how quickly they did it.
Everyone falls to creating a fake front of illusions to give their narrative the impression of success. As far as renting a luxury jet to a studio somewhere and taking photos pretending they’re going to a different location.
Here he is:
Or using a kiddy pool full of rose petals and taking tight photos of their head floating on top… giving the illusion of relaxing in some luxury spa.
And apart from these fake photo shoots, there is the purchase of followers, likes and comments.
These fake influencers go from a few hundred followers to tens of thousands in a short period of time.
Every one of the followers are fake.
Everything is fake.
But what makes it even trickier is the fact that it works.
They start getting offers left, right and center to take a picture with a brand’s product and in return, they get the product for free. Everything from brand-name sunglasses to portable bathroom bidets. One day I will tell you the story of my first encounter with a bidet. One of the funniest days of my life!
The more fake followers, likes and comments they get, the more free stuff they get.
And they are becoming more popular too. Suddenly they were getting invitations to fancy parties and weekend trips.
Interestingly, the more this happens, the more legitimate followers they get as well.
Thousands of real people will follow them because they see someone they admire who has “made it”. A person who arouses envy and fantasy of what life is like on the other side and they want to feel that they are a part of everything.
And do you know what makes this fake scenario even trickier? No one is motivated to stop it.
Fake influencers are reaping huge rewards for little effort combined with a few hundred dollars buying their way into this influencer world.
Brands that use influencers to market their products are happy to boost sales with all the legitimate followers gathered by influencers.
Instagram has benefited from increasing users and advertising money spent by brands promoting influencers who use their products.
And of course, let’s not forget the people who create and implement fake profiles that follow these influencers and earn a lot of money with bought likes and comments.
I can say that the only loser in this scenario is us.
Those who like what we see posted by these influencers.
Those who buy products because an influencer endorses them. I mean, it has to be good then, right?
Those who look at the influential and wish we could live like that.
Sure, not all “influencers” are fake. There are many respected people who have built their personal brand through hard work, unique brand positioning and careful posting strategies. I mean surely to goodness Oprah didn’t go and buy her 19.3 million followers, right?
And I admire them.
They are what I follow and learn from. The legitimate ones have earned their role as an influencer. That’s how I want to grow up.
What about you? Do you see through fake influencers or do you find yourself admiring the life they present to the world? Have you tried to model them to build your business like they did? Did this article change your mind or are you excited to give it a try and become an influencer yourself?
I’d love to hear what you have to say about it below.
To the success of your business,
Tales of the Online Marketing Crypt Vol. 10 warns that before you start comparing your business’s social media presence to others, you don’t know the whole story. Read our blog: Playing the Dangerous Comparison Gamee on Social Media
Netflix Documentary: The Social Dilemma.
Book: Under the Influence – How to Fake Your Way to Riches. Instagram. Exposing Influencer Fraud, Selfies, Anxiety, Ego, and Mass Delusional Behavior. Photographer Trey Ratcliff uncovers the cunning tricks Social Media Influencers use to buy their way into the lucrative, multi-billion dollar world of social media brand sponsorships, world travel, and free merchandise. Meet these fake “Influencers” – who have seemingly glamorous lives, but have no real social media presence – who fraudulently cheat the system by buying likes, comments, and followers.
Book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes” – and how to use these insights. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert on the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of studying what motivates people to change behavior resulted in this acclaimed book.
Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. For over sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has led thousands of today’s famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
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