Instagram fraud has been top-of-mind for many marketers for the last few years. Despite the rise in fraud, we had high hopes and expectations for websites selling influencer shoutouts, like Fiverr.
To our surprise, we discovered that gig websites like Fiverr actively promote freelancers who are falsely advertising their services.
TL;DR: You need to verify influencers you find before working with them.
Overall for this study we analyzed 38 Instagram profiles across 28 Fiverr seller accounts offering these services. Nearly 10 accounts we approached refused to share their profiles when asked, do not list them on their page and simply pitch the promise of “Having many followers”.
Out of the 38 listed Fiverr Instagram profiles we analyzed, 29 had 25% or more fake followers. Meaning more than 3/4 of the profiles have purchased followers to boost their numbers. Fiverr Instagram follower gigs and shoutouts are completely fraudulent.
When you go to fiverr.com and look for Influencer marketing offers. Fake Instagram accounts, inflated by hundreds of thousands of fake followers are the “top results”. Fiverr is bad for promoting your products/pages.
The Fiverr Instagram profiles we analyzed had a combined following of over 6.7million.
Out of those 2.7 million are fake. That's an average of 40% of each profile’s following being completely fake.
With minimal engagement rates and broadly distributed audiences, this means a virtually useless promotions being sold hundreds of times to Fiverr users.
Most sellers have more than 1 job offer for the same service. This seller has 2 different Instagram profiles spread out to 6 different available gigs common practice in Fiverr fraud.
Highlighting the fraud with @Teamovertrain
The worst of the offers came from Fiverr seller named top_ads_agency. His profile reads of long experience and humble beginnings.
"I have over 13 years under my belt when it comes to experience in marketing from the old days with flyers in the street to nowadays in this digital age of social media influencing." - Faker
The Instagram profile they are using to fulfil orders is @teamovertrain. Motivational quotes, back muscles and peanut butter cups. Everything you could hope for in an Instagram account offering fake promotion.
@teamovertrain’s account which has over 400 000 followers. 10.22% of them are real. Meaning that a whopping 90% of the audience is completely fraudulent, the rest likely completely disengaged, semi-automated accounts and the occasional, rare, authentic follower.
Fraud beyond fake followers
Of course, almost all of the gig offers say that they have “real followers “. Almost all have completely fake audiences. Unfortunately that is not the end of the misleading ads Fiverr is pushing..
Many offers lie to you, sharing tales of a highly targeted audience in a major market. There is an unfortunate and stark difference between that and the truth however.
This data was pulled from Fiverr seller shoppinghut1988. Using Instagram profile @outfitsshopnow (follower credibility of 57.61%). This is what they advertise and what their actual targeted audience is.
The sad reality of these services
Let’s continue with our previous example, fashionista01. She boasts an instagram account with 1M “followers” and sells shoutouts on her page.
In the description, they say that this promotion will give you USA and Europe audience. In addition, her selling point is that you will have the chance to: “Sponsor your ad to real and active followers all over the world.”
Now if we crunch the numbers here for a second.
- The Instagram profile has 657 743 followers.
- The follower credibility is 65.87%. Meaning 34.13% of the audience is fake. Which translates to having 224 487 fake followers.
- 7.9% of the followers are from the US. Meaning 93.1% of the (real) audience isn’t.
- The engagement rate when analyzing the 30 latest posts is 0.57%. Meaning that 99.43% are not engaging with the content that the influencer produces.
So when you take all these numbers into consideration, The actual number of real and engaging accounts from US is a bit under 200. Which is only 0.02% of the initial AD title of 1 million.
Fiverr, where you get what you pay for
Due to having low results, these types of comments you can see quite occasionally when looking at the different sellers.
You would expect that Fiverr would do something about it, but the overall reviews of the sellers stay high. Seemingly inflated artificially by the sellers. For these types of fraudulent sellers there is a perfect “safe heaven” in the form of a note like this:
This is their out, so they can scam hundreds or thousands of dollars from brands and claim that “there was no guarantee”. Needless to say, these fraudulent influencers are hiding behind a trusted brand. While Fiverr is making money allowing them to work under their name, despite claiming you can “buy… worry free”.