Followers of an Influencer’s social media page garner attention from brands for digital campaigns — higher the count higher the reach. Brands know that the metrics they seek vis-a-vis digital campaigns can only be fulfilled by those with a massive follower count — a fact that influencers are well aware of.
But often in an effort to catch the brands’ attention, many resort to unfair means and pay platforms to make their follower count look appealing. This sums up the recent debacle with the musician Badshah who was accused and later questioned by the Mumbai Cyber Crime branch. It has been suspected that the Punjabi rapper had paid a company Rs 72 lakh in exchange for 72 million fake views on his music video ‘Paagal’ released in 2019. This raises the question of whether he will be trusted by brands in the future for brand endorsements and his existing deals. It also puts the companies that handle these celebrities and influencers under scrutiny.
Not just Badshah, even B’Town celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra were accused of having more than 40% fake followers according to the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) and are among 10 celebrities who have the highest number of ‘bots’ on Instagram. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres ranks first on that list with about 58% of fake Instagram followers.
The sequence of events was triggered by singer Bhumi Trivedi who reported that someone has created a fake account of hers on Instagram. The CIU unit of Mumbai then arrested a Kurla resident and later Kashif Mansoor, who runs a portal that provided fake followers, views, and likes.
Influencer Marketing has a personalized approach when it comes to promoting a brand or service that resonates with the influencers’ persona as consumers are more likely to find them reliable. But with the issue of fake followers in the limelight, brands need to differentiate followers from the ‘Faux Followers’ on Social Media and reassure credibility when it comes to campaigns, especially in the pandemic where influencer marketing is at it its prime.
e4m spoke to Influencer Marketing experts about their perspective on fake followers on social media and how to develop a more authentic approach on social media platforms.
Fake Followers in the Digital Marketplace
Manesh Swamy, VP-Creative, Logicserve Digital says, “I think the celebrities have gone overboard and done it for that extra fame or that one specific