Influencer marketing is set to become a big part of the marketing mix for many businesses in 2019. Brands look forward to unlocking the potential of digital channels by leveraging the skills and knowledge of people who have used social media to build a community of fans around them. These influencers have cracked the code to create authentic content driving engagement among people whereas brands might still have a bit of figuring out to do. A burning question on the minds of marketers is “Could some of the influencers be faking it?”
Problem – Rise of the Fake Social Media Influencer
As businesses recognize the potential in the strategy, the monetary incentive to be a part of the scenario is tempting for individuals to accrue a large fan base by any means necessary. A large number of followers will attract large sums, at least that’s the thinking. Brands want to work with influencers who have an engaging audience but measuring engagement is a challenge on its own.
The key measure used to evaluate the influencer options used to be the number of followers. It was seen that having a large follower count didn’t mean great engagement and it was easy to actually increase the number of followers. Here’s how you follow a bunch of accounts and some will follow you back. Unfollow the ones who don’t follow you back. You can do this every single day and over time you will build a large following. You would be considered an influencer technically but it is unlikely you wield any actual sway over your followers since most of them won’t engage with your content.
Spotting a Fake Social Media Influencer
- Follower count is not a standalone proven factor to consider. Look at the number of people the influencer is following. If the follower and following count are neck and neck, you could assume with some certainty that engagement is not very high with this account.
- Look at the comments on the posts. Are they descriptive? Seem genuine? Or are they vague and generic? An authentic comment would be related to the material of the post whereas a generic comment would be like “Nice”, “Great” or something that can even be automated.
- Many third party and native platforms have emerged just for this purpose. These platforms add another layer of checks against fake influencers as these platforms might just be taking some action against the wannabe influencers. The native platforms are constantly making updates to weed out bad, aggressive and inorganic practices with respect to adding followers. An example would be the practice of purchasing followers which was booming once upon a time, now people have caught on and we can expect a sharp decline in the near future.
As a business, the marketing decisions are in your hands. It can be a bit tedious at times but safeguarding your investment and reaping the benefits of influencer marketing make it worth the effort. Of course, as influencer marketing continues to grow and becomes a mainstream method, we could see some legal regulations for the same. As of now though, it seems some ways down the road and until then, brands are on their own. If you are reading this, if you are a brand or an influencer, I urge you to keep it straightforward so as to create win-win situations.
If you are an influencer, consider this, even if you have a large fan base, what good does it do if no one is actually interested in what you are saying. Instead, take this as an opportunity to step up your social media game so one day you can actually make a difference. The audience is intelligent and is growing smarter by the second. The fake influencers, the fugazi will be separated sooner than later as the scrutiny increases. Fake influencers, you have been warned!