How to Fake Authenticity

Aug 22, 2017

Be authentic! You’ve probably heard that advice more than once. You have to have an “authentic” voice in your content marketing, and engage with people on social media like an actual human, not just a brand. This emphasis on authenticity has led to the rise of influencer marketing.

Whether you’re Kim Kardashian or a mommy-blogger, you’re looking to turn the online following you’ve built into cash. And as influencer marketing gains more steam, this has become increasingly easy for many people. Maybe too easy.

In the quest for authenticity, some brands are being taken in by fake influencers, and Mediakix set out to prove it by building its own fake Instagram accounts. It started by hiring a local model and holding a photoshoot. Armed with plenty of pictures of an attractive young woman, it created the “calibeachgirl310” account. This fictitious lifestyle influencer “lived” in Santa Monica, California. For its other account, “wanderingggirl,” Mediakix simply used free stock photography of places around the world, and blonde women in beautiful locales, only shown from behind.

Once the content was in place, the company started purchasing followers. “We started with buying 1,000 followers per day because we were concerned that purchasing too many followers at the onset would result in Instagram flagging the account. However, we quickly found that we were able to buy up to 15,000 followers at a time without encountering any issues,” the company wrote about its adventures. “The pricing for followers ranged from $3-8 per 1,000 followers, depending on the reliability of the service.” 

Next, Mediakix moved on to purchasing engagement for “around 12 cents per comment, and between $4-9 per 1,000 likes.” It took a little time to get up to 10,000 followers, which many influencer platforms require in order to sign up. Once calibeachgirl310 and wanderingggirl cleared that threshold it was just a matter of applying for new campaigns and waiting for someone to bite.

According to Mediakix, “We secured four paid brand deals total, two for each account.”

This is kind of scary if you’re a brand, but it’s a good argument for paying for performance when you’re dealing with influencers—though paying for likes and comments it still a possibility. So if you’re thinking about employing influencers you’ll want to make sure you’ve vetted them thoroughly—and try to find someone with more substantial content to help prove their authenticity (think bloggers and YouTube stars). Nothing it worse than paying for authenticity, and getting a fake.

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