The other side of Instagram

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If you look at a typical account on Instagram with the focus on clothes, you will face a lot of colorful images of luxurious shoes, jeans, sweaters, and some other things along those lines. Everything about this profile including posts, comments, and likes might seem very normal.
But, with a more meticulous look, you can read a little bit weird sentence: “For Sale”.

Source: freepik.com

Digging Deeper Into what’s ‘FOR SALE’

Many other profiles adopt a little bit different approach for earning money. With a little searching through Instagram’s stories and posts, you will find advertisements with content like: “6$ each post, 4$ each story”. A typical profile posting images of beautiful girls in a stylish and a little bit seducing mood and up to 33K followers can offer such prices. Depending on the number of followers, these prices might be very different.

Thousands of people are spending money to buy sought-after accounts on Instagram, although it is an illegal action based on the application terms of use. In this article, we will focus on the black market of influencers on Instagram.

Based on Instagram’s terms of use: “You cannot attempt to buy, sell, or transfer any aspect of your account (including your username) or solicit, collect, or use login credentials or badges of other users”. However, a dirty but lucrative black market exists beyond the beauty of Instagram’s pictures.

Why Instagram?

Although similar deals can be made on other social media like Facebook or YouTube, the process of gaining followers on Instagram has made it much sought-after. As you might know, a profile can reach thousands of followers with just throwing enticing pictures and rephrasing texts without ever making a brand-new content by itself. But, on YouTube, you should make and edit videos to be original and creative which typically takes a long time.

Source: freepik.com

So, with more than one billion monthly active users around the globe, Instagram is so popular in the eyes of marketers for selling and purchasing.

How it is done

A vegetarian restaurant can buy an account focusing on food and continue the process of posing content. They will then include their desired advertisements among other posts, without changing the common theme.

The job has become more professional than we can imagine. Many profiles with such specific focus only on a specific field like food, clothes, or sports are known as “Niche”. Niche profiles are subject to the process of purchasing and selling. For instance, Socialtradia is one of the platforms on which influencers can sell their pages to other people or businesses.

On the contrary, there are “Personal” accounts on which posts are original from personal photos of the user’s daily life. Surprisingly, many of these personal profiles are the place of the most profitable trade among social media platforms. On these accounts, a little bit different market is happening: “Brand Sponsorships”.

Subsequently, many people around the world have been absorbed into Instagram wishing to be wealthy just by posting images. Many of them will openly advertise their profiles on other social media like Facebook or Twitter. Some of them are very young and have a convincing reason for this work: “living and educating costs”. Of course, many of them will not reach their purposes. For example, Nick is a mechanical engineering student at a college in Nebraska. He told us that he has tried to sell more than 50 accounts! He indicated that some of them were sold less than 50 $, although they had more than 10K followers. He insisted that this job has been saturated, and every work must be started at a suitable time, even black marketing.

The current state

Although there are many pieces of evidence that these kinds of black marketing activities are taking place, the owner of the application does not comment. Also, many buyers and sellers still operate secretly. These secret activities bring about some other defrauds and criminal actions. For example, some buyers will not pay a seller the price. On the other hand, some sellers will not provide buyers with login information on an account. More importantly, some skilled hackers will hack high follower accounts and sell them to the customers at a very high price.

Verified Accounts

Another important aspect of social media, especially Instagram, is the blue checkmark that should help users recognize the legitimacy of an account. The blue verified checkmark informs people that an account is authentic. This verification process is very clear for Twitter or Facebook as opposed to Instagram. An account that has verification is highly likely to be on top of search results and gain more followers. The more following you gain on Instagram, the higher the offer you can propose. So, a verified account on Instagram is another subject of black marketers.

Source: freepik.com

Conclusion

Black marketing of influencers and trading of accounts on social media, especially Instagram, should be viewed as a real criminal activity. Since there is money on Instagram, some buyers and sellers try to earn money. A widespread effort is needed is we want to solve the problem. The owner of the application can limit these activities by laying dawn some stricter regulations. Also, active users on Instagram can avoid paying attention to the copied contents, fake accounts, and “for the sale” profiles.


This is a guest post by Tom Siani. Tom Siani is an online marketing expert with up to 4 years of experience in this digital industry. He is also collaborating with some well-known brands in order to generate traffic, create sale funnel and increase online sales. He has written a considerable number of articles about marketing via social media, brand marketing, blogging, search visibility, etc.

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