Instagram seems like a harmless place to scroll through photos and videos of friends, family and influencers, but in reality, there are many dangers to the popular social media platform. We may not be able to see them, but hackers, scammers, and worst of all, fraudsters are lying in wait as we're busy sharing the most recent Reels with friends.
A hacked Instagram account is a scary scenario for any user. Personal privacy is at risk, and so are many photos and memories.
For many of us, it is an inconvenience. For an influencer, it can be catastrophic. Imagine waking up to an entire career - gone. Their personal brand, followers they’ve worked hard to gain, and hundreds of memorable photos could be at stake.
For many businesses and marketers, the risks are slightly different, but the impact is equally devastating. Unfortunately, Instagram suffers from chronic invalid traffic and bots. Instagram calls this "inauthentic activity", but we know what it is - fraud.
Ad fraud is a rising online epidemic, and social media is no exception. Your social media marketing campaign could be at risk for much more than a hacked Instagram account.
Here's what you need to know to prevent ad fraud for your Instagram marketing campaign.
Due to its popularity with the younger generations and its status as one of the highest-trafficked social media platforms, Instagram has continued to be a top choice for influencers and advertisers. Now with Stories, Reels and IGTV, Instagram is more attractive than ever. It is no wonder that Instagram is also a major platform for advertising.
On Instagram, ads can come in all forms, such as photos, stories and reels, and can pop up seamlessly in any feed. However, the most popular form of advertising on Instagram is affiliate marketing. Brands partner with influencers to advertise certain products, and the influencer drives traffic and sales for that business. These influencers get paid in a number of ways, either by click, by sale, or even by impression.
When brands decide to work with influencers, they’re paying for exposure to the influencer’s audience. If the numbers are inflated or the followers are fake, brands aren't getting the exposure they bargained for, and this creates a big problem for the advertising industry.
Social media platforms like Instagram are saturated with fraud. High-paying ad campaigns and a false sense of popularity create an incentive for influencers to use fraudulent methods to get ahead. It seems like the fastest and easiest way to rise to internet popularity is by faking it. Fraudulent influencers buy "likes" and followers and use bots to trick the algorithm and inflate their numbers. Their metrics are showing a lot of interest, and they are driving traffic, but this traffic isn't real. Nobody is actually buying any of the products, and the business is draining their valuable marketing dollars on an affiliate who isn't driving sales.
What's worse, is the typical payout for an affiliate is rather quick, within a matter of days or weeks. By the time the business has discovered the fraud and requested a chargeback from the affiliate, it is often too late.
Here's how you can solve this problem.
There are several steps to secure your affiliate marketing campaign and maximize your ad spend.
Carefully screen your affiliates and their traffic. There are so many influencers on Instagram, and many appear to be legitimate. Monitor their metrics, and don't simply look at "vanity metrics", such as traffic, followers, and "likes". These metrics look good on paper, but they don't necessarily contribute to ROI or customer satisfaction. They could have a lot of traffic, but if the traffic isn't real, then it does nothing for your business.
Rather than wasting marketing dollars on bad traffic, try a third-party ad fraud solution. Many ad fraud companies can monitor or even help you block fraudulent traffic from an affiliate, as well as pinpoint exactly which affiliates are sources of fraud. This allows you to optimize your ad spend, focusing on legitimate customers, and cutting out fraud, increasing your ROI.
Instagram can be a gold mine for advertising. Equipped with the tools you need to protect your marketing campaign from ad fraud, the sky is the limit for your social media marketing campaigns. Request a trial to see the power of Anura's solution.
*This post has been updated in July 2021 with more recent information.