Social Chain CEO Steve Bartlett claims his influencer marketing agency is “the biggest victim of plagiarism”.

The Manchester-based firm has been accused of plagiarising content for its hugely popular social media pages – including @BeFitMotivation, which has 1.67 million followers, @BritishLogic and @PrimarySklProbs – in recent months.

It openly admits to reusing content from Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit. However Bartlett says that it’s a two-way street.

“Any publisher which puts out thousands of pieces of content every single day runs the risk of one of those images or sentences they’ve used having been used by someone else,” he contends.

“There’s a very fine line between curation and plagiarism. Some of our pages curate images so they’ll find images online, post them and tag the person who made the images.

“We’re probably the biggest victim of plagiarism.”

Barlett says his influencer marketing business can be a “billion-pound company”.

Social ChainSocial Chain
Bartlett with co-founder Dom McGregor



“When we started the Social Chain, we weren’t aware of the rules regarding advertising,” says Bartlett.

“Four of us were university dropouts and the other was planning to become a primary school teacher. We didn’t have anyone from advertising in our company.

“Social media is a new thing and the Advertising Standards Authority regulations hadn’t been adapted to it a couple of years ago.

“There were no guidelines about how to make it transparent. We didn’t know that you had to write #ad in a post.

“The ASA contacting us in March 2015 was the first moment we were made aware – then we didn’t hear anything back until the piece came out.”

Social ChainSocial Chain
Fun and games in the Social Chain office



However the bad publicity hasn’t dented his confidence. “Social Chain is going to get closer and closer to excellence and being perfect at what we do,” he says.

“We’ll never get there, but we’ll get closer. We want to make sure that Social Chain is synonymous with social media.

“We want to go into a number of different markets – Australia is a big one for us – and continue to be disruptive and bold.” 

Bartlett told BusinessCloud that he had to create his own birthdays and Christmases as his parents were so poor.