Photographer Proves How Easy It Is To Buy Followers and Fake Being an Instagram Influencer

Photographer Proves How Easy It Is To Buy Followers and Fake Being an Instagram Influencer

It’s well known that many Instagram influencers will do anything — including buying fake followers — in order to increase their appeal to potential brands for partnership. Now photographer Trey Ratcliff is exposing the “cunning tricks” used to do so, proving how easy it is to have companies pay you for sponsored posts.

Ratcliff claims to have gained insight from encounters with aspiring Instagram influencers at luxury travel events over the past few years. Many, he says, were paid anywhere between $1000 and100,000 for a single post. Not to mention brands frequently gift products, or provide flights, hotels, and meals free of charge.

It’s a well-known fact that Instagram suffers badly with fake spam profiles, and paying someone to make a load of these bot accounts follow you is one of the most popular ways people fake Insta-fame. In a quest to see what “buying influence” could do for him, Ratcliff created a fake of his own, purchasing his 104,000 following in the process. It set him back around $40 for every 30,000 followers he bought.

Impressed by the numbers, the reception from marketing agencies was warm, with many of them suggesting relevant brand partnerships.

Of the experience, he said:

I see quite a bit of suffering out there on social media, and that’s why I wrote this book. I hope it is a fun way to open the door, if even just a little, to have people become more mindful in their daily activities. Social Media, if used wrongly, can really add to a lot of undue suffering.

Another source of suffering is some of these Instagram Influencer charlatans are using completely unscrupulous tricks to gain a big following and engagement to trick brands into giving them the seemingly ideal lifestyle that is perfectly Instagrammable. So, a lot of people suffer anxiety when they see this stuff online because they feel like losers.

But that is all based on a lie, so there is zero need for you to have any internal suffering by comparing yourself to a crook.

Compiling everything he learnt in one place, he has now released the book, entitled “Under the Influence – How to Fake Your Way Into Getting Rich on Instagram: Influencer fraud, Selfies, Anxiety, Ego, and Mass Delusional Behavior.” It retails for  $10 for the digital Kindle Edition and $18 for the paperback.

Lead image credit: Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash.

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Previous comments

very easy to buy likes to page. I bought 500 when I started my photography page on FB. and it wasnt through FB

But did the 500 help your business initially?

the reason I bought it was so it doesnt look like im a new guy with new customers.

Coming from Trey Ratcliff, a pseudo photographer if ever there was one. Have you been to his website? He's simply a bandwagon-jumper using all the tricks in the book to make money with clever marketing. He is no artist though despite running workshops on such. His photos are mediocre at best. No, he is a fantastic marketer through and through. Companies should hire him to head their marketing departments as im sure they would do very well. Don't hire him as a photographer though.

Marco Fiorini's picture

It's more complicated than that. High following it's not enough to work with real business..fake followers are easy to spot and they don't engage with your profile. There are many free software than can even spot if you're using follow/unfollow strategy. People are not so easy to fool.

Nick Rains's picture

So by publishing a book is Mr Ratcliffe therefore making money out of those who want to scam money out of brands? Not sure if that's irony, satire, just desserts or what.

Chad D's picture

exactly what I was thinking he faked something to sell something and suckers are buying into reading his book about faking it to make money which is what he did ?

yeah I hope not all the younger generation and some of the older get caught up in this idiocy and start to pull away

vadim lobaiz's picture

thanks for sharing such a great article with us

I wish that Instagram never posted the number of followers. If you liked someone, follow them. Then people could post and be followed by those they liked, and not play games to simply build followers.

It’s unbelievable how people fake it! I bought the book because of this article (so fstoppers is an influencer for me).

My biggest problem with buying through Instagram influencers, though, is that of course they’re doing it for money. And you don’t get to see customer ratings, like on Amazon. It’s difficult to trust anything.