#IGramEthical - And You? Say No To Instagram Fraud

It feels lovely to achieve results without cheating. The most important thing I have to say upfront is that no one should ever measure a person’s worth by likes and followers. What I have to say might hopefully encourage many to change their attitude. In previous months I worked on a project where I monitored user behaviour on Instagram. I carried out countless interviews and meetings over breakfasts, dinners, coffees, cakes, emails, and whatsapps, and gained invaluable information. Influencer marketing fraud is a problem.

When I was recently invited to a magazine launch the social media manager told me that she only works with Instagrammers who have a high following. I told her about my findings and she admitted that she was surprised that Instagram success can be enhanced artificially. You cannot use apps to measure it. Every user can do things to look like a celebrity, you must study Instagram accounts for a good amount of time to be then in a position to assess the results. The amount of likes a photo receives has got nothing to do with quality or with whether you are a nice person. It is mostly all about how “creative” you are in the way you play on Instagram. As an example, on the left is one of my photos that I posted on my account, and on the right when a company featured it on their account.

A large ornate vaulted hall with a checkered black and white floor.


Performance-enhancing activities on Instagram

Sometimes people got upset when I asked them about their work ethics, some even flipped out, and that is something I cannot understand. Today many people using Instagram value fake relationships over real connections. Social media altered their values.

Social Media Cheats/fraudsters belittle all the ones who do not cheat on social media. Content creators who do not cheat are left behind and ignored. With their behaviour, they destroy the income and livelihood of all the ones who keep things fair and who value authenticity. Sadly, that word authenticity is so overused, and not in a good way.

Most tell the world how frustrated they are with the uncontrollable use of shady tricks on Instagram until they join the Social Media Cheats/fraudsters. They feel pressured to play along and fear to lose assignments. How did we end up like this? It is exactly the same as doping in competitive sports. Brands want to see high numbers; hence users engage performance-enhancing measures to deliver. It is all about money. From experience, I can say that no company loves to throw money out the window, and I have the feeling that not many brands are aware of all the performance-enhancing activities that go on behind closed doors.

What exactly are social media marketing fraudsters?

Fraud? Really? Yes. All users who buy followers/auto likes on Instagram or engage in commenting pods and/or follower loops or in any other form of performance-enhancing activities undermine the quality of work of their peers. These people are not social media managers, influencers or strategists; they are social media fraudsters. I want social media to be a lovely place. It is in our hands. Who is interested to be part of a group of ethical Instagrammers? It is all about respect, interaction, and attitude. Let us be honest, trustworthy, responsible people who love the platform and enjoy it and who want to use it to grow, be inspired, inspire and above else, have a good time.

One would think that no one wants to be friends with a robot, and no one needs robot comments. In an ideal world, yes. I just do not want to accept unethical behaviour any longer. We all read the clever tips on how to gain followers, as in for example, like five photos, leave one comment and everybody follows you in rows. No, this is spam behaviour, you are not sincere. There are countless commenting groups, where it's organized to like a photo and comment on each other’s content to simulate high engagement. You can see this when one account always gets the same amount of comments, by the ever-same people. If you jump over to the other person’s account you are going to see soon, that that person gets the ever-same amount of comments, from the probably always ever same people.

That leaves everybody guessing how the ones feel, who do not want to be part of a group like that? It is heartbreaking for all who work hard to make things work. Simulating interest is misleading customers, it is deceptive advertising. Each Instgrammer can change the fake-audience situation into a real-audience one. Why would one pay a person (a fan) to like you? Would you ask strangers on the street to tell you are beautiful? By now I am so far that I often think they would do just that too.

 I Gram Ethical - You too?

 I Gram Ethical and you?

This is important, I have to repeat this, this is not at all about disclosing social media fraudsters. All the cheating bloggers, Tweeps and Instagrammers out there know exactly well who they are. Their secret is safe with me. They can accept awards, job offers, interviews, create campaigns for brands, sit on expert panels, true, but they know they cheated their way into this role and position. These people know they pathetically asked others to like their posts, they know they asked others to follow them so that they would look successful.

 Over time, it became more and more common. Social media fraud in all its colours spreads like a wildfire. Even so many who once spoke out against it are now heavily involved. Shamelessly. Maybe people like US President Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made lying and cheating more normal than as to what it was before they turned up on the world stage. 

Let's Post on Instagram like a friendly Human

We can only change things together, and it would be great if we could do this, no matter whether we belong to a certain group or not. We can leave bad practice behind and start fresh. I ask all social media cheats out there, to do the one and only right thing. Now. Stop pretending you are great and delete your manipulated account and just do as all the others do. Connect and engage like a friendly human.

It is easy, and it is free. Put in the hard work as everyone else does. Stop at once misleading other Instagram users believe you are a celebrity. Keep it real. I cannot just stand by any longer and look on while values and morals are kicked in the face. It would be wrong not to say anything. It wears me down. To say that everybody else behaves badly is no excuse any longer. Instagram invites us to “Sign in to check out what your friends, family & interests have been capturing & sharing around the world.”

How to spot Social Media Fraud

Some examples on how to easily spot social media fraud and cheating. Honestly, it is cringeworthy. Imagine somebody would say this to you in real life, to your face.


-Hey. Looking for likeminded people to engage and connect with. Follow me, leave a few likes and I follow back.


-Just followed and liked some posts.


-Let’s share the love by finding new people to follow in the thread below... We will start, you can find us here: xxx.


I am doing a project with such and such. Bla bla bla, a like and comment on this insta is appreciated.


-Instagram Follow Train. Do not unlike and unfollow. Like and RT this tweet. Drop your link and check out others.


-I am this close to 5,000 followers on Instagram. Drop your link here (on Twitter) and let us connect there.


-Somebody dm’d me about an Instagram follow thread. Let us do it.


-It is my birthday, and as a present I would really like to gain some followers on Instagram.


Use the hashtag #igramethical in all your future posts, if

-you set your own likes,

-your comments are genuine, you are interested, you want to learn about something/someone/somewhere,

-you are not part of a commenting pod,

-you are not part of follower loops (or organize them),

-you follow others because you love their content,

-you are not hiding in the background like a ghost or spy,

-you don’t buy followers,

-you won’t follow users to gain followers and unfollow later,

-you mark promotion as promotion,

-you use relevant hashtags only,

-you are in short considerate towards other people on social media.

It feels lovely to achieve results without cheating

I understand that Instagram wants to make money on the platform; the company has the right to do that. So far we can all use their service for free. I personally wouldn’t mind if each user would have to pay a monthly fee to use Instagram if that helps everybody to play a fair game.

Tell everybody who might be interested, who can add to this, and who wants a fair Social Media world in the future. I don’t want your likes, follows or applause, this is not a trick. Do one thing that scares you every day? I have just done it. All comments are welcomed. Just spread the word please, and be brave enough to use #igramethical for all your future posts. If you are a blogger or Instagrammer and read this now, remember, there is no need to cheat. It is wrong. Don’t be a Trump or Johnson. Remember, you are better. It feels lovely to achieve results without cheating.

Please visit Instagram, meet me, aka The Touristin, and follow the hashtag to see who already grams ethical

Read what I wrote about Influencer Marketing for Ethical Influencers and Hype Auditor Working with ethical social media marketers is better for brands.

From Berlin with love