A group of influencers on Instagram tried to play Oprah by giving away a car to their followers. The said group is now under investigation by Instagram for violating the platform’s policy against spam.
According to a spokesperson from Instagram, they are still reviewing the controversial content. After the review, appropriate action will be given to the influencers involved.
Stephanie Otway, Instagram’s spokesperson said that the car giveaway was against the platform’s policy, prompting them to assist the situation and plan to take action. She also added that any content that violates the policies of Instagram will be taken down from the platform. Instagram clearly states that its spam policies prohibit users to buy or sell followers as well as other site features unless they are marked as branded content. Moreover, branded content also has its own set of policies.
On the night of May 11, Monday, 16 influencers announced that they were hosting a car giveaway which they called car gifting. They also announced that the car they will be giving away was a brand new 2020 Hyundai Accent SE.
Many people believe that such giveaways are really legitimate. For instance, Daryl-Ann Denner, one of the giveaway participants, expressed her excitement about the car giveaway in question. According to Denner’s Instagram Story, she was excited because she knows that the giveaway is going to change someone’s life.
In addition, the giveaway hosts said that the winner could select a car equivalent which amounts to $16,000. Otway noted that the prize money is what made the giveaway run against Instagram’s policies. She emphasized that cash giveaway is considered as a violation of the platform’s policies if done in exchange for site privileges such as likes and tags. She also noted that such is not an experience that they want to create on Instagram. This is how you can get more Instagram followers without violating any policies.
According to Otway, the giveaway done by the group of influencers is a type of “loop giveaway.” A loop giveaway is when a group of influencers hosts together with a giveaway. For the participants to enter, they have to follow all of the participating hosts. A loop giveaway is done by influencers in order to boost their follower counts, which in return will help them acquire bigger partnerships and ad deals. This strategy is often framed as the influencers’ way of giving back to their followers.
The said giveaway strategy is controversial on the platform. This is especially true to many influencers who see the strategy as a way artificially boosting their follower count.
Most loop giveaways require people to follow the hosts and tag friends who will do the same in order for them to be a participant. This helps the hosts get a significant boost in the number of their followers.
Moreover, influencers offer various things as a prize when doing a loop giveaway. Some have offered cold, hard cash, or Peloton bikes, which led critics to consider them buying followers.
Instagram emphasized that collecting artificial followers is a form of spam. In the platform’s community guidelines, it asked its users to help the platform stay spam-free by not artificially collecting likes, shares, or followers. Instagram also reprimands users from posting repetitive comments and content or contacting people repeatedly for commercial purposes even without their consent.
After the influencer announced the car giveaway, a lot of people expressed their shock that such an expensive price would be given away to someone for free.
However, another implication of such a pricey item given away for free is taxes. According to CPA and tax expert for TurboTax Lisa Greene-Lewis, if the group of influencers really did give away the car in a giveaway, the winner would have to shoulder the taxes. She added that the winner of the car has to claim it on their taxes, which will be priced depending on the market value of the car.
The same thing happened with the famous car giveaway hosted by Oprah. The winner, who came from her show’s audience members ended up paying $6,000 each in taxes after winning the giveaway. In addition, Greene-Lewis said that winning the car could cause the recipient of another tax bracket, depending on how much their current income is.
Apart from the tax issue, many influencers feel that giveaways on Instagram and other social media are inauthentic. According to influencer Carly A. Heitlinger, a blogger at Carly the Prepster, such giveaways are completely out of control. She does not recommend doing giveaways in order to build a viable business.
She also added that aside from the questionable legality of these giveaways, the whole scheme falls under “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Heitlinger also spoke out on her Instagram stories that she was against the car giveaway. According to her, anyone who considers doing a loop giveaway must know that the scheme is probably one of the worst things to do as a business. She even added that every influencer is ranked based in tiers, which is done in purpose.
Moreover, Heitlinger emphasized that bumping one’s self out of one tier into another in an artificial way only means going up against bigger influencers. And by bigger influencers, she means those who have long years of experience, an established brand, and a high engagement rate. She also noted that giveaways are like Facetuning your photos in order to make it different from how you really look like in real life. While it may look good for engagement, the problem comes when a brand wants to find out how much trust your followers have in purchasing the products that you endorse.
Brands and consumers are both getting smarter and smarter. And although it is cliche, Heitlinger does not worry about what everyone else is doing. She added that right now, it seems as if everyone is taking their personal brands and bringing it right off the cliff. The choice of whether you will jump along with the other brands is solely yours.
Date: June 22, 2020 / Categories: News, / Author: Joy P