Lately, there’s something running a bit out of control in the media, and this time it doesn’t involve Trump or Opioids, but it does involve a bit of FAKE NEWS. If you’ve seen the recent viral article featuring the “Social Media Agency” Mediakix and the “influencers” @wanderingggirl and @calibeachgirl310 you are already familiar with this story. If this is the first time you’ve heard about it, we’ll give you a short summary. A social media agency created fake accounts and purchased fake likes, comments, and followers. They claimed to get offered “pay for post” deals from a couple companies on each account. There’s a ton of problems with the legitimacy of this claim and some basic facts and information that need to be kept straight. I’ve worked in the PR and Marketing Industries for 2 years now and I’ve learned all the secrets that companies use to choose their influencers because SPOILER ALERT I used to be one of those Fashion and PR Account Managers that searched for legitimate bloggers and influencers to work with.
Whether you’re a blogger, someone who has been following this thread, or someone who’s just tired of not seeing the truth of people on Instagram… here’s the dirty truth for you.
First off there’s a few issues concerning the legitimacy of this so-called agency. If you’re a social media agency, wouldn’t you be up to date on the most recent trending social media platforms? That’s what we thought too, which is exactly why we found it so strange that they still featured Vine on their website and that they don’t actually have their own Instagram account. But more important than this agency desperately trying to gain PR by making absurd claims, are the claims themselves. In order to spot a fake account, you need to look at the following:
1.) WHAT IS THEIR FOLLOW:LIKES RATIO?
According to studies the average engagement rate on Instagram in 2017 in 2%, no doubt this number is affected by all of these fake accounts. A good/standard engagement is 10% this means if someone has 1,000 followers, they should typically receive 100 likes. This may fluctuate above and below this general area due to many other factors, but if an account has 200K followers and only gets 80 likes on each picture, this is a huge red flag. Somethings that could severely affect this typical ratio, positively or negatively are:
-not posting for a long period of time/ inconsistently
-posting something controversial or changing the overall page energy and attitude
-trending on the EXPLORE page on Instagram
2.) SPOTTING FAKE ENGAGEMENT IS EASIER THAN FINDING WALDO
Seriously take a look at the “comments” on these accounts. A series of generic comments is another big red flag, if every other comment is “cool” or “nice pic” this is clearly spam and not a genuine comment from a REAL person.
3.) DO YOUR RESEARCH- IT’S ALL PUBLIC INFORMATION
If they’re a blogger reaching out for a collaboration, (or if you’re a blogger reaching out to PRagencies or companies) you need to understand one simple thing: you can not lie about your engagement or website traffic because they can look it up and most likely will. There’s several platforms that allow you to view website information for free. StatShow and Traffic Estimate are two of the more accurate websites to view a sites traffic, for the most accurate number I would view both websites and usually the median between the two numbers is most accurate. You can also check their Alexa Rank. According to Avangate, Alexa Rank is, “The algorithm according to which Alexa traffic ranking is calculated. It is based on the amount of traffic recorded from users that have the Alexa toolbar installed over a period of three months. This traffic is based on such parameters as reach and page views.”
My unpopular opinion is that if a company is willing to invest money in these “influencers” they should be smart enough to educate themselves on how to find out who is legitimate and really do their research. If they are willing to recklessly throw money around at potentially fake accounts, I don’t feel bad for them. In fact they deserve to get scammed for being so careless with their budget and brand image. Furthermore, this isn’t a get rich quick scheme that people can use, as so aptly advertised by Mediakix, it’s a waste of time and money and was merely a poor attempt at landing in the news.
Moral of the story: No, you can't fake it til you make it.