Is there a silver bullet for insta fraud?
Well, Social Chain would have you believe that there is! When they first announced their Like Wise tool, I have to admit I was intrigued and I did think it would be useful for brands who want an easy way to audit who they’re working with. But…as time went on, and it was made very clear that Social Chain planned to market this tool aggressively I found myself worrying about exactly how it would be used and who the target users were. While I saw lots of people praising the tool, I saw people like Nik Speller and Sara Tasker raising their concerns and after reading through their thoughts I was inspired to share my own.
Of course, I’m sure all of us would love an easy-to-use one-click tool that we could use to determine if our fave Instagram people’s audiences are genuine but it would definitely be naive to think that this will be achieved with Like Wise. Insta fraud is not a new concept, people on marketing and PR teams have known about it for years and those that want to ensure that their campaigns run well actively investigate who they are working with. There are tools already out there that show brands how genuine influencer’s engagement is, and a lot of brands do this in house.
So, when I watched the video promoting Like Wise, I couldn’t help but find myself rolling my eyes a bit. Much like Shane Dawson’s Jake Paul series, it felt a tad too dramatic for my liking. And what worried me the most was the emphasis put on ‘exposing’ and ‘blacklisting’ those who are exploiting brands.
The biggest scam in marketing?
Sure, if you’re completely new to influencer marketing, I can see how you could easily be duped by bot use, fake followers and fake engagement but…the influencer industry has been building for a few years now and a lot of the people that work within it are very savvy. Sure, using bots and buying fake followers and engagement is completely wrong but is the best way of tackling the problem with third party AI? Personally, I think Instagram wiping out bots and fakes would be far more useful (in fact, I wrote about how Instagram could improve their platform at the beginning of this year). But, they’re not going to do that because it would take a significant hit on their 1 billion user count, which they’re very proud of.
I also think AI can be a dangerous thing to trust. The uncomfortable truth is that we all have some bot and fake followers, because they’re so rife on Instagram and to appear to be normal users they will follow accounts that haven’t paid them for their follows or likes. So, what’s to stop this clever AI from incorrectly labelling someone a fraud, and having an impact on their future brand deals and income?
My final concern also ties to how this new tool has been marketed. The video would have you believe Insta frauds will be exposed and we will all soon know who those playing the system are. But the tool is not available right now, in fact you have to ‘register interest’ in order to have access to it. This just doesn’t match up to me. Why would you market something as exposing frauds and making the influencer industry more transparent if there’s no transparency about how the AI works? It all feels a bit smoke and mirrors and if this is a third party tool that brands have to pay for I really don’t see it changing anything or having any real impact. Brands who care about working with genuine influencers already have measure in place to ensure they do, brands who really don’t care aren’t going to buy into this.
Are there things that could improve in this industry? Yes, of course, and if there was a silver bullet that could tackle Insta fraud it would be amazing, but I don’t think this is it. And I think it’s dangerous for us to trust it so blindly when there’s no evidence of it working.