Every third Swiss Instagram follower is made up

A U.S. study by the start-up Hypeauditor shows how high the proportion of fakes on Instagram is in Switzerland as well: one in three followers is said to be fake. This is hurting advertisers. They are fighting back with AI - but the algorithms are not without controversy.


Influencer marketing is in vogue. According to the influencer marketing agency Mediakix, almost 2.5 billion US dollars will be generated worldwide with young social media celebrities by next year. According to Fabian Plüss of Kingfluencers, this figure is expected to reach 30 to 40 million Swiss francs this year in Switzerland alone.

Where there is a lot of money, there is also fraud: With purchased likes, comments and followers, advertisers are led to believe that there is interaction and interest in the products placed.


SRF came to the same result in 2017

One of the SonntagsZeitung This study from the U.S. now quantifies the extent of this fraud: According to the calculations of the company Hypeauditor, every third follower on Swiss Instagram accounts is bought. Worldwide even 46 percent.
The sobering result is likely to dampen the hype about the supposed panacea of influencer marketing in many places. However, this is not the first time that evaluations have quantified the extent of fake fraud. SRF already presented figures in 2017 - and came to the same result.

Artificial intelligence screens followers

Unsurprisingly, advertisers, who pay dearly for influencers' reach, are fighting back. Hypeauditor offers a tool for doing just that. Founded by a Russian, the U.S.-based company uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to examine the quality of Instagram profiles. Followers are screened: Where are they from? Who else are they following? Are they orphaned? Are their numbers skyrocketing? Do their numbers match the interactions? In the end, a quality score results. The highest score in Switzerland is achieved by Swissmeme star Zeki Bulgurcu.


With tools like Hypeauditor, profiles can be checked for follower quality with just a few mouse clicks (screenshot Hypeauditor.com).

First-hand data rather than trusting algorithms

In Switzerland, for example, Farner uses Hypeauditor software to screen and select influencers. However, consultant Markus Maurer emphasizes to the SonntagsZeitung that the tool is a supplement, not a replacement for personal exchange with influencers.

But there are also critical voices from the industry. Daniel Koss of Yxterix, which has around 100 artists under contract, says that real influencers wouldn't do that today anyway. In addition, "projections" like those from Hypeaudior are too inaccurate - the only way is to get the data directly from the influencers. Fabian Plüss of Kingfluencers also doesn't think much of AI tools. He says his agency has the problem of fake followers well under control and works exclusively with first-hand data. With alogrithms, you never know exactly what they are doing.

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