At the end of April, we held a Roundtable at which industry professionals gathered to talk everything Influencer Marketing – a main pressure point: Fraud.
In our recent post, “The Year of the Micro-Influencer”, we described how bigger isn’t necessarily better – an influencer with a refined following may yield the greatest engagement. Despite this insight, the ‘size matters’ fallacy persists: more followers = more engagement.
Fraud is running rampant.
What enables this fraud? Click farms and bots that generate fake followers and stimulate fake engagement rates. And, according to Forbes, “The growing emphasis on search engine optimization incentivizes people to game the system – creating an entire industry centered on boosting page rank.”
As marketing budgets move more dollars into social media, these inorganic ways to grow followers are becoming prolific. According to Fullbottle, “…recent studies show that over 8-11% of social media accounts are fake.”
Gina Lee, an Instagram-based influencer, states, “While it might be an easy game to play, in the end, it not only hurts the purchaser, but it hurts the entire social community… in order for influencer marketing to be effective for brands, the influencer behind the promotion needs to remain genuine.”
With so much fraud available for so few dollars, the honor system alone won’t cut it. Influencers must adhere to higher standards by shaping better business practices. To ensure reputable engagements, Lee advocates for using, “…sophisticated tracking methods for monitoring and analyzing activity in real time, providing alert notifications when suspicious activity is detected.”
Brands have to be much smarter, too. CEO and Founder of Hypr, Gil Eyal, explains*, “Before you choose an influencer, make sure you do your due diligence. Checking and clicking on the follower list and sampling some of the followers can give you a general idea. Looking at posts and seeing who engaged and whether the comments make sense or seem automated also sends a signal.”
More ethical behavior, more due diligence, and a dash of tech to automate the tedium will go a long way toward creating a brand-safe, integrity-driven Influencer Market ecosystem. Bye bye, click farms.
Author: Ayla Quinn