The Silent Shout Out

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Instagram, Scams, Shout out, Social media | 0 comments

What is a Shout Out?

It refers to having a social media profile with a vast audience share one of your pictures and suggest that their followers check out your account. This method is a recognized strategy for seizing the spotlight. Imagine the surge in traffic if a prominent organisation like National Geographic featured your photograph on their Instagram with a caption encouraging people to follow you for amazing content. For up-and-coming photographers, such an endorsement is a coveted achievement, but for most it remains just a dream.

Fraudsters exploit these aspirations. They might not be a renowned entity like National Geographic, but they claim to own accounts with huge followings and propose to display your work on these platforms for a fee. The offer seems too good to resist because of the low cost and the promise of gaining a significant number of likes and followers. So, you pay up, and within a day, you witness a surge in likes and new followers. The shout out accounts feature your content as agreed, and it seems it is effective. But then the influx suddenly ends. The likes and followers stop coming. What’s the reason?

You’ve fallen victim to a scam!

These scammers have a plethora of bogus accounts at their disposal. Once they receive your payment, they deploy automated bots to like three or four of your posts and follow your account. These ‘shout out’ profiles with large followings are fake. They may have hundreds of thousands of followers, but these followers are not real. Only those who fell for the scam are real followers.

Real or fake account? The Silent Shout Out.

How to identify if you have been scammed.

If you’ve purchased a shout-out and noticed a sudden increase in followers, scrutinise their profiles. These accounts usually show little to no activity, have minimal posts, and their posts lack significant engagement. In one instance, a scammer added a hundred new followers to their victim’s account in under an hour. Each ‘follower’ had seven posts on their profile and no activity for the past year.

After a legitimate shout out, you should see a consistent flow of engagement, not a sudden spike followed by silence. The internet operates around the clock, so genuine interest should spread over at least a day, gradually diminishing over a few days as the shout-out account’s audience has the chance to see your content and decide whether to engage with it or not. That post should continue to attract a trickle of attention for a considerable time.

‘But,’ you object, ‘the shout-out account has 750K followers! Surely that can’t be faked!’

 A high number of followers is not proof of authenticity

You can determine if a shout-out account is authentic by examining its engagement level. Look at the average number of likes per post. For example, Jenna Coleman, of ‘Doctor Who’ fame, has a million followers, and her posts garner between 50k to 100k likes, which is a 5-10% engagement rate, showing a genuine account. Conversely, accounts with a million followers but only 300 likes per post have an engagement rate of 0.3%, suggesting the account and its followers are fake.

Spotting a social media shout-out scam:

  • Unsolicited offers are a red flag.
  • The account lacks widespread recognition. Legitimate offers from reputable sources like National Geographic are a different story, but they’re unlikely to reach out unless you’re already a notable figure.
  • The account’s engagement rate is low. The number of followers is irrelevant if they’re not genuine.
  • The account hides its engagement statistics. While genuine accounts may choose privacy, commercial shout out accounts only do this to conceal the lack of engagement.
  • They request payment.
  • They ask for money through PayPal without sending an official payment request.
  • They hound you with direct messages to pressure you into accepting their offer.
  • They make unrealistic promises, such as assuring that all followers will be from a specific country, which is something they cannot control.
Why do they send a flurry of fake visitors?
It’s to fulfil their promise, at least to an extent. If they deliver traffic and you gain followers, they can argue they’ve met their obligations. However, they can’t sustain this for long as Instagram detects bot activity, and the scammers don’t want to draw too much attention. They’ve already received your money and will do the bare minimum to keep it while they target new victims.
Why do they insist on direct PayPal payments?
PayPal’s buyer protection doesn’t extend to money sent to friends and family and that’s how they’re asking you to pay. If the scammer had sent a payment request, you could dispute the transaction with PayPal if the followers were fewer than promised or fake.

Recommendation

If you’re approached with a DM offering a shout out, proceed with extreme caution; it’s likely a scam. The best course of action is to block them, delete the message, and move on.

How to get a real shout out

The effective way to secure a shout-out is to build a relationship with a credible, high-profile account, and then request one. With quality content and a respectful, patient approach, you might just achieve that goal.

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All content is Copyright Andy Bell 2024

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