Exposing the Dark Side: “Influencers”
Picture this: a brand wants to get into the new and exciting field of
influencer marketing. They search through tons of supposed influencer Instagram
accounts, and pick a few that seem to fit the best with their branding. They
have a high following, and the brand sees this as chance to expose their
products to a large audience.
High end brands invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into these influencers
all the time. Sometimes by gifting them an entire new product line, paying
thousands of dollars per Instagram post, or even extravagant international
vacations. They do all of this work, and invest all of this money in hopes of
increasing their sales and boosting their PR.
Now… what would happen if that brand found out that their products were being
exposed to a fraction of what the influencer said they were going to be exposed
to? It is becoming more and more common that influencers are buying followers,
likes, and comments in hopes of looking more impressive to brands.
Living in the era of technology has led a lot of people to try to become
big-time influencers. They see it as living a life of glamour. They think that
buying their following will pay the bills and let them get tons of free
products. What they lack to think about is the fraud they are committing. They
are fooling these brands to invest time and money into them for little to no
payoff. By buying their fake following, these fake influencers are taking
opportunities away from influencers that have worked hard to gain an authentic
and loyal following. They might get picked for an exciting experience over an
influencer that has a genuine but smaller following.
How to Spot a Fake Influencer
Every time we talk about influencer marketing in general, we always talk about
engagement rates. Engagement rate is calculated by adding the number of likes
and comments someone has on a post and dividing it by the number of followers
Someone with a massive following, take Kim
Kardashian for example, has an
engagement rate that’s less than 1%. It’s impossible for all of her followers to
continuously interact and engage with her posting. However, when it comes to
micro-influencers, we expect them to have a much higher engagement rate,
hovering somewhere around 7–25%. Their smaller following is more likely to be
genuine and it leads to a higher rate of interaction.
Now, in the past checking a supposed influencer engagement rate was enough, but
they have started to step their game up. Instead of just buying followers — they
are now buying likes, comments, and views on videos. This makes their engagement
rate look more authentic, but there are still ways to spot the fraud.
There will always be a natural fluctuation in following, likes and comments,
etc. from post to post. So, if these influencers continuously have almost the
same amount of likes and comments on every single one of their photos, eyebrows
should be raising. It’s unlikely that someone could obtain the same amount of
engagement on every single post unless they were buying the same engagement
package every time.
A Possible Solution
It’s important that brands know of and understand this information. Exposing
fake influencers would potentially save a brand thousands of dollars of wasted
money and hours of wasted time. Finding the right influencer for your brand can
be difficult, but it can be done. A benefit to micro-influencer marketing is the
decreased chance in a fake following. Their smaller yet loyal following will
provide better results than wasting money on an “influencer” that’s not so
influential at all.
Find your people.