Influencer marketing has proven itself to be incredibly effective in the last few years. But with influencer marketing expanding, there has also been a rise in fake influencers. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful tools in marketing. Consumers are much more likely to trust and believe the opinion of a friend, family member or celebrity. Brands have quickly learned to see the value of aligning themselves with individuals who have significant influence over their audience. Influencers are established tastemakers within their communities and companies of any kind can benefit from their support.
Influencer marketing gives third party validation to your product. These individuals are idolized and a go-to for the newest trends, best products and breaking news. They have a built-in audience - so just make sure it matches the target demographic of your brand. Done correctly, partnering with influencers can build long-lasting, symbiotic relationships. But it needs to go beyond compensation. Influencers want to be able to give their audience something unique in order to continue to strengthen their influence. Done the right way, this relationship becomes a genuine partnership where you provide the influencer with exclusive or interesting information and products, and the influencer provides you with great content, credibility and exposure.
Influencer marketing is an emerging industry. And, as with any good thing, there will always be those trying to take advantage of the increase in demand. Some individuals and companies are resorting to shady tactics to take advantage of this trend: buying or selling followers, likes and other measures of social reach. In fact, The New York Times even did an expose on this new fad. The piece focused on a company called Devumi that “collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud."A successful influencer partnership aligns your company with an authentic person of influence who creates truthful endorsements for your brand that are seen by their audience. And that audience needs to be actual people. Authentic endorsements by authentic influencers are the keys to success for any influencer marketing campaign.
Engagement rate can be a clear indicator of an inflated follower count. Someone who has 200,000 followers but only gets 100 likes on their photo should immediately raise a red flag. A good rule of thumb is to calculate an influencer’s engagement rate. To do this, divide the influencer’s average likes/comments by their follower count and multiply by 100. Two to three percent is considered standard, but the higher the engagement rate, the better.
Instagram offers free analytics to business accounts. Most influencers monitor these daily to better understand their audience, reach and overall impressions. In addition to getting their media kit or Fohr card, don’t be shy when it comes to asking for a screenshot of their business analytics as well. This will give you quantifiable data to dissect before deciding to move forward with a partnership. These insights allow you to see how the influencer’s following interacts with their posts and what kind of content resonates best. Be sure to pay attention to metrics like impressions, overall reach, likes and comments.
Besides in-platform analytics, there are a number of other tools available to help you validate the authenticity of an influencer. Social Blade is a fantastic, free tool that allows you to look at an influencer’s growth over a certain period of time. Influencers who are gaining followers organically should show a steady increase. Huge, substantial spikes in growth could be a sign that shady practices have been employed to increase follower count. SocialRank is another great tool. It’s free to analyze your current following, but you’d need to pay a monthly fee to analyze other accounts. (Sign up for their free trial to check it out!) It provides extensive insight into an influencer’s followers. Using SocialRank, you can determine not only the engagement level of your own followers but any Twitter or Instagram user in the world! It also has an algorithm that identifies how many fake followers an Instagram profile has according to a variety of metrics. Whatever platform floats your boat, be sure you’re using some kind of resource to validate an influencer’s authenticity before committing to a partnership.
Influencers who use questionable methods to skew their follower count or engagement rate have, in actuality, little to no influence over their audience. Especially with the price of influencer content continuing to rise, it’s in your brand’s best interest to do your due diligence when it comes to finding authentic partnerships. Put in a little extra work now and get your brand the best return on investment in the long run.The task might seem daunting at first. But if you do your own digging and utilize both in-platform and independent analytic tools, you’ll be able to easily spot the authentic influencers from the phonies.For more information and to get some expert help with your influencer marketing strategy, head over to our Content & Social services page.
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Shayna Zeigen is the Public Relations Coordinator at Hawke Media.