Frauds pervade most activities of the business world and any business that does not want to be taken to the cleaners must constantly be on its toes. Since marketers have started leveraging digital influencer, the baddies have been working round the clock on how to cash and cut off their slice.
Brands have discovered that partnering with influencers — essentially well-known social personalities with enormous followings — can be very rewarding. This is the main reason influencer marketing holds so much attraction for rogue influencers.
In 2017, the worldwide Instagram influencer market value was estimated to be 1.07 billion U.S. dollars. It is projected that the value will more than double to 2.38 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
In a survey of its members, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that 75% of marketers currently work with influencers. The report went on to say that 43% plan to increase spending in the next year.
Of those who are not currently using influencer marketing, 27% indicated they plan to do so in the next 12 months. Yet only 36% said they judged their influencer marketing efforts as effective and 19% admitted they thought that the money spent was ineffective.
These rogues perpetrate influencer frauds – where paid tastemakers use artificially inflated follower numbers to increase their asking rates for engaging their audiences on behalf of brands. The scope of the problem is so high and Points North Group said it has found that midlevel influencers—those with between 50,000 and 100,000 followers—often have about 20% fake followers.
The situation is so bad for marketers who are feeling the pinch after expending budget for a service that is non-existence. “At best it’s misleading, at worst it’s corrupt,” Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed expressed the hurt in an interview. “For the sake of a few bad apples in the barrel, I believe there is a risk in the area of influencers.”
What do brands do to counter these frauds?
- Set Objectives and KPIs to Gauge Influencer Effectiveness
Brands need to develop an understanding of not just appropriate influencers and their content but the makeup of their followers to ensure alignment with predetermined objectives. In this regards, a sort of metrics could be worked out by brands to measure the authenticity of claims by influencers.
This will enable them to be able to decipher genuine from fake influencers, with the attendant view of checkmating frauds. It’s absolutely necessary to know what tracking measures and KPIs an influencer can provide and deliver on before entering into an agreement.
It’s vital to inspect an influencer’s engagement rate, which includes likes and comments. In recent years, we have seen an avalanche of applications that automatically increase a user’s engagement rate inorganically.
CMS WiRE reports Lauren Braun Diamont to have said that “When an influencer’s engagement appears too good to be true in comparison to their following, raise up that red flag. If a user with 3 million followers is averaging 20,000-50,000 likes per post, the majority of his or her followers are likely purchased. The same rule applies if a user with 3 million followers is averaging 5-8 million likes per post, another red flag — unless the post went viral, this is the only exception here.”
“The best practice here would be to check out posts from the beginning of an influencer’s feed and see if you can spot a sudden change, [which could be] a notable increase or decrease in the engagement at a certain point,” advised Diamont.
- Concentrate on comments
Rogue influencers play out their frauds by using a make-believe large number of reach, brands should, therefore, focus on comments. When vetting potential partners, it’s important to look for passionate, dedicated creators who have developed trust in their networks.
This is where micro-influencers, or social content creators, come in. Micro-Influencers might have significantly smaller followings than their celebrity counterparts, but their ability to turn the needle for brands is anything but small.
While at it, you should note that Some applications automatically generate comments from inauthentic user profiles to beef up the engagement of a post. Ensure that the comments are organic, related to the issue being discussed, and not basically all emoji-only responses or short “love it” and “fabulous!” comments.
- Number of posts
To establish oneself as an influencer, one must have garnered a large following on their social media profiles, which irrevocably depends on the number of posts. Brands can, therefore, determine how many of an influencer’s followers were purchased and how many were gained organically.
One way you can determine this is by taking a look at the total number of followers they have compared to the total number of posts. Influencers with a large organic following must have tons of posts that date back several years, not just a few months.
It’s not something you can just wish from the blue sky, consistent and engaging content is the key to organic growth.
The bright side to the whole thing is that marketers are unequivocally saying no to frauds. On an industry wide-level, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) updated its Good Practice Guidance on Disclosure earlier this year to include influencer marketing to help both advertisers and influencers understand what the rules are and how to comply with them.
The expectedly looming crackdown from big brands will be a necessary purge to bring influencer marketing back to the fundamentals upon which it was founded: finding creators to champion your brand message. In such an environment, there will be no room for frauds.
Photo Credit: Amenda Marvin Flickr via Compfight cc