Over the past few years, Instagram and YouTube stars have staked their claim in the marketing world. Businesses have learned that social media celebrities with large, authentic followers can be used as an effective marketing strategy. In fact, Marking Dive claims that 63% of marketers have increased their influencer marketing budgets this year.
But influencer marketing is currently in the hot seat.
Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued 100 letters to influencers and brands about how endorsements and paid advertising were being disclosed. However, shady practices aren’t the only thing to worry about when it comes to influencer marketing. Here’s what the FTC isn’t monitoring.
Followers, likes, comments, tags, subscribers – they all matter. Brands love to see big numbers when scoping out potential influencers to partner with, as it will allow their brand to be seen by a larger, more diverse audience. However, the mantra ‘the more the merrier’ only goes so far – brands want to be seen by real people, not bots.
How many of these numbers are authentic?
On Instagram, this comes in at just under 50 percent, according to anti-fraud company SwayOps. Meaning that over half of these engagement numbers are made up entirely of bots. In this instance, marketing budgets are only paying for less than half of an influencer’s following. Fohr Card’s research indicates that this amounts to a whopping 80 million dollars spent on non-active accounts.
You can buy your followers
With the swipe of a card, followers can be purchased in an instant by influencers. Sites like ‘Buy Instagram’ advertise packages ranging up to $450 that will get you up to 50,000 followers and likes. It is unknown just how many influencers are taking this path, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate this space.
How to spot a fraud
It’s tricky to navigate the authenticity of engagement but here are a few things to keep an eye out for regarding bot activity on Instagram:
A sudden, overnight spike in followers (accounts doubling in size)
Comments unrelated to the post
Engagement coming from a different country
Many images in a row liked at one time
These accounts will hardly have any followers, but will be following many accounts
They will unfollow you after a few days
Always be weary of influencers who display these signs.
Want more of this straight to your inbox?
Ensure that your following on social media are real people, who react to real interactions, and not bots or bought followers who don’t care. You can do this by choosing to hire a marketing company instead of an influencer. A marketing company works for YOU and have YOUR best interests in mind, whereas it can sometimes be difficult to tell what an influencer’s motives and priorities are. At the end of the day, the goal is to engage your target market with your product, and this requires real people to make real human connections that generate opportunities for sales.