Have you ever made the experience of finding several accounts apparently with the same or similar name even though you were looking for just one celebrity or influencer in particular? Maybe you were not even sure whether the first or the fifth account showing in your result list was the account you were looking for. This is due to Instagram fan channels people create for certain influencers or stars and we asked ourselves: What kind of Instagram fan channels are out there and what are their intentions?
The Verification Badge
If you are looking for star influencers, you will most likely stumble upon plenty of accounts. Luckily, several of the bigger influencers already have the blue verification badge that, according to Instagram, proves the validity of channels and helps to identify the original account of the influencer.
They also lower the “likelihood of being impersonated”. Note: A real influencer channel does not necessarily have to own the blue check, especially when searching for micro influencers.
Why Do Fan Pages Exist?
In the following, we want to show four of the untold number of fan pages that can be found on Instagram to analyze further what content those Instagram fan channels share and for which reasons they might run a fan page. Therefore, we looked at fan pages of famous influencer Zoella from the UK, the musical.ly stars Lisa and Lena from Germany and celebrity Angelina Jolie. We identified four different types of fan pages as presented below.
No.1: “Always Up To Date”
Instagram feed of fan channel @zozeebo
This type of fan page is exactly how most people probably imagine a fan channel to be like. It is a mixture of reposts and screenshots taken from different social media accounts of the actual influencer. Zozeebo is a fan page with 120k followers keeping fans of UK influencer Zoella up to date. The Instagram feed is a mixture of photos showing Zoella as well as screenshots taken from her Twitter or Snapchat account. Zoella herself currently has 11.1m followers.
The owner of this channel barely shares self-generated content. The only content that might have been created by the poster is a picture taken of Zoella’s beauty products with the caption: “what’s your favourite zoella beauty product?”
The last picture was shared in December 2016 so the account seems to be inactive and now followers slowly start to unfollow, which results in a negative growth rate of -0.5%.
Despite hardly any new information or posts other than those of Zoella’s own social media channels, the account managed to attract more than 120k followers over time, when actually, the fans only need to follow Zoella herself to see the same content. Thus, there is hardly any additional value for the followers. The upside of the fan account though is that it is comprising posts Zoella shares on several social media accounts (Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram).
When analyzing the account, we noticed that the numbers of the daily follower changes are conspicuous, so it is definitely not given that all the followers are real.
No. 2: “Like To Know The Outfit”
The second type of fan page brings to mind the channel liketoknowit which helps you shop the styles of stars and celebrities. There is also an Instagram fan channel for Zoella with a similar content idea and more than 51k followers. Fans that are following zoellabuys can easily copy Zoella’s style as the account bio describes: “#1 place to find Zoella’s homeware and clothes”. The pictures shared by zoellabuys show what Zoella is wearing, which brand is offering the clothing piece and also displays the price. The owner of the account seems to engage with its followers a lot as most of the photos seem to be created on request as you can see in the caption of the picture below.
As this posting shows, the content is not of high quality but sets a focus on its informative function. Still, the Like Follower Ratio is surprisingly good with 3.9% considered the low photo quality, so the informative function seems to be well appreciated.
Noticeable about that account is the fact that it links the brands in the pictures as well as Zoella’s account. We do not think that these pictures are sponsored adds but are wondering if that might be a new way for brands to be promoted without working directly with influencers but still take advantage of the influencers impact and celebrity status.
No. 3: “Build Up And Sell Off”
Looking at the third type of Instagram fan channels we identified, it becomes obvious that the content does not necessarily match the influencer or celebrity the fan page is for apparently. To us, it seems like the content creator wants to increase the chances to be found by other users.
The account is likelier to be found when a well-known influencer is part of the account’s name. You are able to find several of those accounts when you search for the German musical.ly stars Lisa and Lena.
Example of fan channels for ‘Lisa and Lena’ on Instagram
One account with more than 203k followers is called _.lisaorlena._ and claims to be a ‘LeLi supporter’ as it says in the bio, even though the content is not linked to Lisa and Lena.
Instead, the account is created like a game in which the followers have to decide whether they prefer one object over the other. The products or objects displayed are titled with either “Lisa” or “Lena”. By now, you can find several accounts on Instagram similar to the one mentioned above.
Instagram feed of fan channel _.lisaorlena._
We assume that the account owners try to make money out of these channels at some point. Fan pages are quite efficient for building a larger Instagram channel in a short period of time.
First of all, the topic of a fan page is simple, to some extent reasonable and the content does not need to be self-generated. Furthermore, the channel can be easily found by others when searching for the actual influencer the account is for.
No. 4: “Making Money With Someone Else’s Fame”
Our no. 4 of fan channels seems to have made a whole business idea out of a fan page! The account angelinajolieofficial has more than 6,9m followers even though it is doubtful that all the followers are real.
Angelina Jolie does not own an official Instagram account so someone else created one and shares pictures of her. The description in the bio even reveals that this is a fan page. Still, companies collaborate with the account probably due to its high follower number.
The Angelina channel also offers shout outs through the network of Buysellshoutouts. The platform itself even provides Instagram account lists of channels that are for sale.
Example of a shoutout-offer by angelinajolieofficial through Buysellshoutouts
As we see, a considerable part of the 700 million Instagram network consists of Instagram fan channels. The idea of Instagram fan channels is to create content about something you love or a person you admire is somehow getting lost though. In contrast, fan pages are part of the business sphere providers like Buysellshoutouts are building around Instagram. It is questionable if the celebrity status of someone else should be used by third parties for marketing purposes. We figured that the large fan pages we looked at partly build upon fake followers – why would an honest and authentic fan want to follow Instagram fan channels if the influencer’s official account is public anyway?