How to spot a fake influencer and other tips for working with influencers

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It’s no secret that influencer marketing has quickly become a staple for many brands. Businesses are devoting more and more of their budget to influencer marketing and the market is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 billion worldwide.

However, along with any “hot new marketing technique” comes the fraudsters. Social media is fraught with fakes – fake news, fake likes and fake followers. Hell, influencers recently showed how easy it was to fake a trip to Coachella.

So how and why should you care? How can you try and make influencer marketing work for your brand? If done correctly, influencer marketing can have a huge impact – giving you exposure to a brand-new audience and raising the profile of your brand to your target market. Here are our top tips on working with influencers.

Audience

Before you do anything, think about you it is you’re trying to reach. If you’re a chocolate brand wanting to appeal to busy mums, don’t look to healthy eating vegan influencers. This sounds obvious, but sometimes brands only look at audience numbers and potential exposure, they don’t think about the fit with the person behind the account. Your product needs to genuinely appeal to the influencer and fit with their brand. This way the message will seem authentic and like a real recommendation. Also think outside the box when it comes to audience. A smaller, niche audience of 5,000 of THE RIGHT people is far better than a huge audience of 500,000 people who don’t fit your buyer persona.

Growth

A big following is great, but a good giveaway for someone who’s bought followers is a sudden increase or spike in followers. More followers generally mean more money per post – so influencers are always on the hunt to increase their numbers.

It can cost as little as a few dollars for hundreds of followers. You can easily spot someone who’s purchased likes using the free tool Social Blade. Just enter their handle and you get a great overview of their followers over time. True influencers will have a steady growth, a fake will have noticeable spokes of gains and losses.

Once you’ve looked at their growth, also look randomly at some of their followers. If there are lots of inactive accounts, accounts with no followers etc, it’s likely they’ve paid for some fake followers.

Engagement

After looking at their followers, take a peek at their engagement. Social Blade also offers an overview of engagement on posts. The figure you want to focus on here is the engagement rate, shown as a percentage.

If an account has 100,000 followers and is averaging 2 comments, I’d say something is amiss. Either their content is appallingly bad, and no one is looking, or those followers are fake.

The average Instagram engagement rate is between 1% and 5%. So, if someone has 2,000 followers, you’d expect to see about 100 likes per post.

Comments

How many times do you look at a post on an account you follow and see the following?

  • Great!
  • 100!
  • Awesome!
  • Love it!
  • 😊
  • 💯

These generic comments are usually a giveaway of fake accounts. The tech is good on these robot profiles! Some of them don’t just follow, they comment too! Clever, eh! And a minefield for brands looking to use influencers. Take a good look at the comments and see if people are actually asking questions, tagging friends and having genuine interactions.

Also look out for the same people commenting all the time. Some influencers form pods and agree to all comment and like each other’s posts to increase their engagement figures. If it’s the same 5 people all the time, you may want to rethink this partnership.

Followers to Following ratio

A genuine influencer will have spent time building their audience. To do so organically, they will have liked and followed lots of other accounts. So, their follower to following ratio should be pretty similar (unless you’re a Hollywood celeb, then you don’t need to follow, daahling”. If these numbers are radically different, alarm bells should start ringing.

Strategic thinking

If you find the right influencer and want to go ahead, always take it back to what do you want to achieve. Who do you want to reach and what do you want them to do? Are you better to offer a discount to your influencer which their followers can use? Do you need photography, if so, put a contract in place so you can have access to the images once posted.  This may cost more but can be a valuable asset for your business longer term.

Ask your influencer for some stats before going ahead. If they’re worth their salt. They will use some kind of Analytics programme to track their success, or at the very least, regularly check their Instagram Insights. Ask them to send you some reports on their reach and engagement rates too. It’s always worth getting this information first.

Finally, check out who they’ve worked with before and ask how it went! If you see a competitor brand has worked with this influencer, give them a call and see what kind of return on investment they got, how the working relationship was etc. This will not only give you a good insight into your influencer but will also help you build up your business networks.

In short, an influencer has to influence people, have their respect and encourage them to take action. If an “influencer” can’t do that, then they are unworthy of the title. 

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy or want to know more about working with influencers, give us a call – we’d love to help!

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