There is an effect with real followers unintentionally following pages by either churn&burn or clickfarms, as well.
Facebook has this occur more widespread. The churn n' burn goes as follows:
1) Build Meme or image sharing page,
2) Accrue 50K+ followers,
3) Sell page to an influencer, influencer updates pictures and profile
4) Followers of old page have no idea the influencer they're following, and now see ads mixed in with the old content.
All and all, the overinflation in that industry is reaching bubble levels, if it hasn't already passed it.
They could even use the algorithm in this article to flag 90% of all "most likely fake" accounts, and require a series of daily captchas to remain active?
p.s. To those debating what constitutes a "fake" account, don't forget that the term was only recently invented: https://www.avclub.com/merriam-webster-points-out-that-trump...
Regardless these are all small bubbles that will only have localized effects when they collapse. Much more important bubbles to worry about like the derivatives market.
That is very strange, given that there are already better ways to determine if the accounts "will provide value to advertisers", and that is by raising the bar a bit more to look at the account's recent likes and activity.
just because an account has less than 10 posts or is private doesn't mean that they aren't actively engaged humans. that is the root flaw of this analysis.
I would disagree with this. It is very easy to have a steady stream of followers on instagram, I've run a few campaigns myself.
When an account is private, and promoted, instagram queues up follower requests to 100 at a time, and you can't see how many are queued but you can predict how many users have been attracted to the account. Bot accounts or otherwise.
(Note: this is part of a larger strategy of getting instagram's algorithm to self-promote your posts in the explore section, or as popular in a hashtag. As you can post something new and your new followers will like your post and then you can switch your account public soon after and it is boosted in activity on many feeds, attracting more people to your account)
The user - who is the influencer - account can manually approve the pending followers, or take their account public. When taking the account public, 100 pending followers are added automatically, and it has to be switched back to private to show the next pending followers, only for them to be added when the account is toggled to public yet again. If the account stays public, the other pending followers will stay pending indefinitely and the user can't see that they are pending.
Therefore, this gives the account the ability to control a steady growth of followers, 100 at a time, indefinitely. If they keep the account private during their actual campaign. The authors might be surprised that this strategy obtains more humans than bots.
The main thing here is that there are many ways to "buy followers". And I think the analysis here assumes way too much about a single way that followers are bought. The authors have probably never created their own influencer account, to know about the infrastructure that really exists.
Just like I was explaining it can basically bake in followers while private. An account can go from 0 - 10,000, or 20,000 pending followers almost overnight, but more practically in a week's time. This won't register on any analytics site.
The account can accept as many of the new followers as it likes (this takes time though) and can make a new post and stack it with hashtags while private. The post will begin getting a lot of likes in a short time span, and then the profile can go public.
For maximum efficiency, this should still be in conjunction with at least one other campaign, still funneling new followers in while the account is public. The post will go to the popular section of every hashtag except the most popular hashtags, as well as trend in the explore section for many users who don't follow you yet.
Given the way that campaigns work, using stories and tags in photos, these should mostly be human followers.
Your existing followers cannot tell if your account is public or private, because they see your profile.
Your prospective followers encounter either a closed down profile, which is still being promoted for some reason making them curious.
Or they are presented with an open profile, which is still being promoted for some reason and worth following.
Having tinkered in the 'dark economy' meant to defraud advertisers before being employed by the advertisers, I trust nothing. The 'dark economy' will be always be miles ahead
So, in a country (with all due respect) hardly "at the center of the universe" for (say) design, fashion, and similar with approximately 8.5 million people, 115 "influencers" have 8.5 million followers.
Even taking into consideration foreigners (after all it is the internet and it is "global"), is it a surprise that a large part of them are "fake"?
Nothing. As you say, the internet is global.
The intended audience seems to me pretty much "narrow" at least from the few examples given on the article under "Illustrative examples of Swiss Instagram influencers".
These are seemingly all fashion related, targeted to an audience (my personal estimate) of women in the 16-40 years old range, maybe even a more restricted age range.
And Switzerland is not - I believe - considered an international (worldwide) reference for fashion.
Of course my reasoning is based not on any data, so it may be well off, but I would have expected an even higher number of "fake" followers, not a smaller one than what the researchers found.
Also, there are network effects. It's unknown whether Instagram would be a better service (to investors) if all (half, a quarter, etc.) fake accounts were removed.
The user agent for the devices experiencing the errors were all an old version Firefox.
Turns out that version of Firefox was the default for some version of Selenium, and all of that traffic was coming from bots running in data centers.
Moral of the story, don't buy cost per impression from any company with anything but the best reputation, because that market is saturated with bots.
- Check comments to followers ratio.
- Check comment quality (are people tagging friends or leaving generic/spam "great pic" comments?).
- Follow the account and turn on post notifications. By doing this you'll see how many spammy ads they post then delete an hour later. Many of these posts will have fake social proof on them.