Social media influencers have large online followings and the power to influence trends, plug products, or refer their followers to sponsored links.
Kylie Jenner, for instance, has more than 144 million Instagram followers and makes $1 million per sponsored post.
In the burgeoning digital era of e-commerce, consumers are becoming progressively more susceptible to positively responding to sponsored advertising online. More than 36% of consumers respond favorably to sponsored advertising on their social media.
Social media accounts with loyal followers are incalculably valuable to influencers and businesses.
They are also valuable to Ramy Halloun. He’s a 23-year-old who made a lucrative full-time job for himself flipping Instagram pages as though they were real estate.
The Instagram flipper
People can buy Instagram accounts with followings, increase them, and then sell for a profit. The larger the following, the more valuable they will be to companies that pay for product promotion.
Halloun buys and sells Instagram accounts through his registered business website TooFame. He makes more than $30,000 a year and has made $120,000 so far.
Halloun said that $2,400 was the most he ever made flipping one Instagram account.
“I started selling accounts five years ago…I started making more accounts and reselling other accounts until I made a formal business,” said Halloun.
What makes these accounts so valuable is the monetization potential via advertising and e-commerce.
Risks and rewards
You cannot buy a personal account, like a celebrity account, for example. Only themed or product related accounts can be purchased.
The true value of an Instagram account comes from “engagement.” Account followers must be actively and continually liking, sharing, linking, and responding to posts on the account.
Such activity perpetuates awareness to sponsored ads on the account. You can’t monetize one million unfamiliar, unengaged and disinterested followers just because you bought them.
Critics of the practice believe Instagram doesn’t enforce its own rules against account purchasing because its lucrative for the company too.
Kris Ruby, a public relations consultant, believes Instagram account purchasing is counterintuitive.
“Why would you want to build something on top of a pre-purchased Instagram account?” asked Ruby.
“The account can essentially be kicked off at any time.”
“That seems like a terrible investment and a big gamble to take that makes no logical business sense.”