With influencers proving to be an effective mode of marketing on social platforms, the brands are increasingly taking advantage of the memdium. As per a MediaKix report, the global spending on influencer marketing is expected to reach $5-$10 billion by 2020. The same was close to $500 million in 2015.
But just like every new marketing channel, influencer marketing has its share of challenges for the brands. One of the biggest challenges is the influencer fraud. In this, the influencers or creators pay to increase their follower’s count and improve engagement.
Followers Count- The Game of Numbers
The number of followers an influencer has significantly impacted their value for a brand wanting to sponsor campaigns. So, influencers do know the fact that a higher number of followers could help them land new sponsorships. Along with this, the extraordinary rise of influencer marketing has also made the space highly competitive.
Due to these reasons, a large number of influencers are now relying on unethical measures to get more followers. This includes paying for them or using paid engagement services. The practice is further increasing the number of fake profiles on social platforms with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more now having millions of active fake profiles as per a report by Gizmodo.
The Data-First Approach for Brands
For brands, the whole idea behind working with influencers is their unique ability to reach consumers and encourage them to buy their products. But the dilemma of fake followers defeats this very purpose as there are no genuine ‘consumers’ that can be targeted. What we have are fake profiles or even bots with the sole aim of increasing the follower count of an influencer.
This makes the task of identification of fake followers or assessing audience integrity of an influencer a must for brands aiming for influencer marketing. Rather than relying on traditional metrics that could be easily manipulated, what brands actually need is a data-first approach that analyses multiple dimensions of the influencers.
Building a Data-First Strategy for Analyzing Influencers
An effective data-first strategy for analyzing audience integrity can help brands avoid influencers with fake followers and work with the ones that bring in real value to their brand.
Here are a few tips to help brands build a data-first approach for assessing audience integrity of an influencer-
● Track Abnormal Growth
There are now several tools and services to track social profiles. You can use reliable tools and services to track the growth of the influencer you are interested in.
While assessing influencers, focus on any abnormal growth in followers count or engagement within a short period. More often than not, such sudden spikes are observed when an influencer subscribes to a paid service to increase followers or engagement. Influencers with such sudden spikes in their growth can be avoided.
● In-depth Analysis of Engagement Rate
A comparison of the engagement rate with that of the industry benchmarks will provide you with a more accurate picture of an influencer’s authenticity.
For instance, as per a RivalIQ report, the average engagement rate on Instagram in the fashion space is close to 0.95%. If you are analyzing an influencer in the fashion space with a considerably higher engagement rate than this benchmark, it can be treated as a red flag.
● Assessing Follower Location
Another effective way to avoid influencers with fake followers is to analyze the location of the followers. While one is allowed to follow anyone from anywhere on social platforms, insights on follower location can help you know more about an influencer.
For instance, if a US-based fashion influencer has a lot of followers from Asia, it is possible that the influencer might have purchased the followers. Brands can also compare the location data of an influencer with another influencer from the same region to know more about the authenticity of the influencer.
Key Takeaway for Marketers
Influencer marketing has already proven its worth within a short span of 4-5 years. But the rising competition among influencers is encouraging them to use unethical measures for attracting brands.
An influencer with paid followers or engagement could only prove detrimental for a brand. It is only by assessing audience integrity that a brand could find influencers that could add real value to their business. Rather than relying on traditional metrics or tools, brands need to focus their resources on in-depth analysis to prevent follower fraud and use influencer marketing effectively.