A cheap trick some influencers are using – and how to spot it

by Michelle Tan
in Blog Posts
24 Mar 2016  |  4 Comments

My mother hates lies - I was brought up to believe that lying was one of the lowest things you could do. So much so that I can’t even lie about the smallest thing, not even at my age.

Speaking of age, I love that we are living in THE era for communication. Everything is fluid and now there is a myriad of ways to reach an audience, tell them your brand story and ultimately build a better relationship with them. Creatively, the possibilities are endless.

The reality, of course, is we have limited resources – time, money, focus, assets to exchange. It becomes essential to be able to work out who is best to engage with - how can my clients get the biggest bang for their investment to achieve their goals? 

The number of influencers – on blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and so on- is growing and changing all the time. We are constantly discovering new influencers with whom we can work. As communications custodians, it is essential for us to vigilantly vet and qualify those we want to collaborate with.  We’d look at things like the number of followers and where they were from. We’d also look at engagement – did audiences like, comment, share? Lots of likes? Great!

The other day we had a request from an influencer who has nearly 200K Instagram followers.  Impressive.  There were pictures of her at a few A-list events. She had thousands of likes for her various posts. On closer look I discovered that in one day a few weeks back, she jumped from an average of 300 likes per post, to an average of 1K plus likes. This made me look closer, and I found that a lot of the likes for her posts were from strange accounts – each of the accounts only had a bunch of random pictures all uploaded on the same day 52 weeks or more ago.

A quick Google search will show you how easy it is to buy followers – and even buy engagement for your posts. There are now apps you can download and one site even says, “We believe all pieces of the Instagram social proof process should work together. Once a profile’s Instagram followers have been increased, we complete our process by increasing your Instagram profile’s photo likes. Instagram pages with plenty of dynamic user likes build credibility in a way no other service can. ... We target niche-specific Instagram likes that fit fashion editors to sportscasters.”

People who engage in behaviour like this make it bad for everyone - those who are legitimately working hard to build credible platforms and businesses, brands who have wasted their resources, and agencies that facilitated the collaborations. Partnering with the right influencer can be a crucial channel for a brand; deceitful accounts diminish trust for sector as a whole.

Mum was right, nobody likes a liar. 

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