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Can you earn money and gifts from a fake influencer account?

Is it possible to create a social media account, buy lots of followers and then pretend to be an influencer?

Well that’s what one company has done as an experiment and to highlight you should check your influencer is, well actually real.

Keep reading as there is a real lesson at the end which you wouldn’t believe a reputable business would do let alone many of them.

This is what they did:

Back in 2017 the company – sorry can’t name them 🙁 – created two Instagram accounts, one which they used photos of a model they hired for a day having a great time. The type of posing selfie type photos that are very popular of celebrities accounts. The other Instagram account they couldn’t even be bothered to even do that – or was part of their plan to show how easy it was to do – instead of a model they just uploaded a load of stock photos.

The next stage, to get some followers, after all influencers need followers right? The experiment was to show that not all “influencers” do actually have a real followers. So they bought about 10,000 followers and also purchased a lots of comments – yes you can actually buy fake comments – so it looks like the account is well liked. This, of course is against Instgrams Terms and is not advised for you to do.

Now the Accounts were ready, all they needed to do was earn some money from it. They approached several large companies within many different sectors showing off their new Instagram accounts and it didn’t take long until the offers came flooding in. Free gifts, free merchandise and FREE money! All for a post on one of their fake Instagram accounts.

I understand the company didn’t take any of the freebies and stopped their experiment at that point. This story got a lot of media attention at the time, as you expect especially as Influencers are big business now – a 1 billion dollar a year big! – and other influencer stories were also in the press.

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it didn’t take long until the offers came flooding in. Free gifts, free merchandise and FREE money!

But something interesting happened…

Almost a year later the company decided to have another go but this time try and get free hotel rooms and free meals. Amazingly one of the Instagram accounts were not closed down due to breaking their terms – but the did get closed down. So, they started creating new posts and bought more followers, over 60,000 now!

The Stats

Throughout the experiments they bought 34,000 followers, 1100 comments and 117,000 likes.


This time they targeted 4 star hotels and popular restaurants trying to get free rooms and meals in exchange of a post. These were very well established hotels and restaurants with large teams in place.

Once again the offers came flooding in, some offered a free one night stay and surprisingly one offered a two night stay worth over $300!

The restaurants also didn’t disappoint with free meals and vouchers on offer.

The big surprise about this experiment for me was – as mentioned earlier – that none of these companies did any background checks. There was a huge media interest the previous year which they could have simply searched for the Instagram account and would have seen all the written articles about this scam. They just took the proposal at face value, maybe looked at the amount of followers and made an offer.

Real influencers can be very helpful in growing your audience or promoting your product, however, this story shows that you should find out a little about your influencer before making any offers.

GOYakka’s influencer tools shows you how affective your influencer was. From about of interest in any of the social media platforms to the amount of conversions were made from each post. We can show how many products you sold due one influencer post, providing you with all the ROI stats you need.

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Written by Stuart Cole

Stuart Cole has been running internet businesses since 1996 and has been concentrating on his popular group of Apps since 2015. A regular author on topics like social media, search engine optimisation and conversion rate optimisation.

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