The $744 M Influencer Marketing Scam

All brands were doing influencer marketing

An automated platform to scale was a natural step

Two months in — something isn’t right?

  • What was going on?
  • Were we going at it the wrong way?
  • Had we collaborated with the wrong ambassadors and ended up with a bad fit for our brand?

An anonymous study to all of our influencers

The questions asked to our influencers

Were we dealing with inflated numbers from our ambassadors?

Most influencers are new into the industry. This reflects the youngness of the marketing channel.
36% state that they never used any service to increase popularity or engagement.

A jarring quote from one of our ambassadors stuck with me:

“I wanted to try a bot service because now everyone uses bots and I wanted to see with my own eyes how good it was.”

1.84 M influencer accounts scanned

The results from the global study

$744 M is at risk on a global level. The new and “true” market cap of Influencer Marketing can be €956 M instead of $1.7 Bn.
The graph shows the net amount of users in millions per country when bots and MassFollowers have been taken out.
Engagement Pods are widespread among influencers who have between 1K and 20K followers. They can easily boost the engagement rate due to that each new comment and like will affect the ER-rate from Instagram.
Auto likes is one popular method of Instagram engagement growth. Loads of services and apps offer a certain amount of likes on every influencer’s post. These likes come from bot accounts.
  • 1M+ followers — 0.3%
  • 100К — 1M — 9.5%
  • 20К — 100К — 12.2%
  • 5К — 20К — 41.6%
  • 1К — 5К — 36.4%

Key delights of the global study

  • Instagrams monthly active users data might be overrated by approximately 45%
  • Net market size 2019: $956 M, a 45% drop from the most conservative report
  • Loads of brands pour serious money down the drain hunting engagement and likes
  • The shiniest toy in the store, micro-influencers are the ones cheating the system the most.

What did we do?

No more free products

So, what did I learn from this?

Our new influencer strategy at a glance

  • Don’t trust any data.
  • Influencers can be great for sales and possibly for brand positioning. But the effect is difficult to measure without direct results generated by the ambassadors. Trust only sales.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your ambassadors to pay a certain amount for your products. This way, you know that they are actually interested in your brand and what your company stands for. And, not to forget, you are slowing down the mindless consumption train.




CEO of A Good Company. A serial e-commerce entrepreneur, and a father of three. Have worked in e-commerce for more than a decade. Mindless consumption-activist.

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Anders Ankarlid

Anders Ankarlid

CEO of A Good Company. A serial e-commerce entrepreneur, and a father of three. Have worked in e-commerce for more than a decade. Mindless consumption-activist.

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