With influencer marketing quickly becoming the new black for SMBs, there’s no surprise there are also those willing to benefit from the trend without investing any effort.
With popular YouTubers influencing teens more than sports stars or silver screen legends and 49 percent of consumers depending on influencer recommendations there’s no wonder most marketing campaigns involving “the internet’s people” are generating six bucks for every dollar spent.
This makes a lot of sense. Bloggers, content creators, and Instagram models are more down to earth. You’ve seen them grow, followed their path. Heck, you can DM them and you’ll probably get a response.
Influencers are simply that much more relatable than any other celebrities or even most brands for that matter.
To top things off, while the A-listers are reserved for the brands willing and capable of coughing up the big buck – working with internet influencers is much more cost-efficient than the lion’s share of PR and marketing campaigns available to Small Businesses.
Alas, businesses are not the only ones who have picked up this new trend.
Here’s the thing: nowadays everyone with a stable internet connection and a literal army of easily obtainable social media bots can spit out thousands of “highly successful” profiles like a submachine gun.
The trick here is to put on your detective hats and identify the crooks before doing business with their bot-infested accounts.
Identify the audience
What do you, as a business want from an influencer? Exposure to their audience, of course.
Therefore, start with identifying the quality of the community before proceeding to investigate the person in charge.
As a general rule of thumb, you should pay attention to such metrics as the numbers of fake, unsuitable, or inactive users. The trick is to look through the comments section under each of the “influencer’s” posts to see how people react to content and interact with one another.
Do pay attention to the people themselves. If you see five of six people engaging in the same meaningless conversation under each post, that’s a definite red flag. Alternatively, you can use tools such as InfluencerDB to automate the analysis.
Where’d everyone come from?
You don’t need us to tell you that gaining exposure and acquiring a following is nothing short of a Herculean feat. The process is hard, draining, and extremely time-consuming. Seeing a person with even a couple thousand followers popping out of the blue is definitely a red flag as well.
In fact, the flag is so painstakingly crimson that nearly 50% of marketers from the US identify spotting fake followers is the number one challenge of influencer marketing.
Here’s a couple of surefire tricks to help identify if an audience and their engagement is fake or not:
- Take a look at the content. If it is terrible but the people still love it – the odds are they are mere bots. Don’t be afraid to trust your judgment.
- Generic comments such as “nice post” or “cool pic” are a sure sign of dirty game.
- Try following one of the people. AI bots are programmed to follow and unfollow people until they receive the desired effect – you following them back.
- Lastly, check where everyone came from. If there was one or a series of sudden outbursts of follower activity, they are most likely purchased on these dates. You can use tools such as IG Audit, Social Audit Pro or fakechecker to automate the process.
Investigate the culprit
Think of it this way: a potentially fake influencer exists with the sole purpose of fading you out of your hard-earned money.
Your security, financial integrity, as well as the brand’s social perception, are at stake. As such, there’s no shame in playing the PI game. Run a background check on your potential influencer to see who they are, what they are known for, and whether they are even real people or not.
Also, pay attention to their profile to see if it displays enough information. A real influencer interested in ongoing opportunities and cooperation with brands will always have his or her name, last name, email, and a profile picture, as well as a verified account at your disposal. If any of these things are amiss – well, you’ve found your last red flag…
Written by: Tony Tomov
Tony Tomov works at CheckThem, a company for Online Background Checks and Public Records located in California. He’s passionate about exploring online safety topics as well as methods of search for information online.