One unfortunate reality of the influencer marketing world is the continuing problem with fraudulent influencers. There are many ways in which influencer fraud can occur, but purchasing followers looks to be the most prevalent strategy. In this type of fraud, the influencer will artificially increase their number of followers, use bots, paid followers, or take part in influencer pods built for this purpose.
In addition to artificially increasing their follower number, they will also purchase engagement in the same way. Trading likes and comments with the influencer pod community or using bots that leave likes and generic comments.
It’s easy to see why they do it; being an influencer can be a lucrative opportunity but building a substantial following takes time and hard work. However, the influencers that practice this type of fraudulent behavior are effectively scamming the brands who work with them.
A brand will partner with an influencer to expand its own audience, and attract interest in their products or services. A brand is just wasting time and money if its paying inflated prices to collab based on fake follower numbers.
Awareness Will Save You From Fraud
Instagram has tried to combat this issue in several ways. However, those who still insist on carrying out this type of fraud always find a way around the measures put in place. This is why it’s important to be able to recognize influencer fraud so that you can avoid it.
One of the most obvious signs an influencer is artificially inflating their audience numbers by buying their followers is sudden spikes in the number of followers they have. It’s very unlikely that someone’s Instagram following can go from 2K to 5K overnight. Before starting to work with an influencer spend some time tracking the growth of their following. Make sure it is rising organically.
Know Their Followers
Another important sign of influencer fraud is a suspicious ratio of comments and likes when you compare it to their followers. An account with a low follower count but very high levels of comments and likes is likely purchasing auto-generated comments. Many of the comments will be irrelevant to the content, with extremely generic phrases or strings of emojis. These types of comments are one of the surest signs that they came from bots rather than actual people.
The best way to make sure that the influencers you’re working with are genuine is to look beyond the standard engagement rates one would use to gauge the effectiveness a certain influencer will have. Instead, take into consideration other metrics. Such as story views, affiliate codes, or sticker taps. These will help paint a more realistic picture of the type of exposure and engagement your campaign can achieve.
If you take care to recognize and avoid influencer fraud your brand will be able to use its influencer marketing budget on forming partnerships that will build brand awareness, drive traffic and establish a relationship with your customers that is built on trust.