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Protect Your Brand From Influencer Fraud


Protect Your Brand From Influencer Fraud

Taghreed Oraibi, business director at BPG Orange, shares tips on how to address the issue of influencers lying about their real Instagram following.

Influencers play a significant role in driving consumer attention to marketing campaigns, especially millennials. According to research conducted by BPG Group in 2017, 94 percent of in-house marketeers in the UAE believe influencer marketing is very significant for the success of their brands. Brands are enticed to invest heavily in influencer marketing as they believe products excite consumers the most when a person they connect with or can relate to endorses them.

Depending on the number of followers, influencers can charge between $1,000 and $10,000 per post – huge sums but an investment worth making, considering the benefits companies get from these deals. For every dollar spent, a brand earns around $6 in ROI and this lucrative industry is set to rake in $15 billion by 2022.

Unfortunately, with great money comes great influencer fraud. Some people inflate popularity by buying followers and likes to fool brands, and consumers know it. 78 percent of consumers are aware that influencers can buy followers, likes and comments on Instagram. In addition, there are ‘Instagram pods,’ where people exchange engagement to trick the algorithm and drive false metrics.

To help protect companies from ‘fakefluencers,’ Instagram is cracking down on bots and pods, but if you work closely with influencers, here are some tips to help you manage influencers’ campaigns effectively and ensure you are making the right investments:

  • Analytical tools

Invest in tools like HypeAuditor and Traackr, that analyze influencers’ platforms and display their reach and audience demographics. If there is a sudden spike in their followers numbers, you can investigate to determine if the reasons are legitimate and then decide if the influencer’s platform is credible and worth the investment.

  • Follower-to-following ratio

Skimming through a platform, there are many visible signs to look for. Manually calculate an influencer’s follower-to-following ratio. This figure tells you if a person is using the follow/unfollow technique, where people follow others just to gain followers back. Investigate some followers’ accounts because several might be fake without profile photos or regular content.

  • Engagement rate

You should monitor an influencer’s engagement rate. If they have 100,000 followers, but only ten people comment on each post, their engagement rate is nonexistent, when it should be between one to three percent.

  • Comments

Read comments to ensure they are genuine. If followers are all making generic statements like “Yas Queen!” – which is irrelevant to the post – they are fake.

  • Request results

Hold influencers responsible for the outcomes of their campaigns with your brand. Brands should set their targets and goals ahead of a campaign, and spend based on the achieved results. For example, if your objective is to drive sales through an influencer marketing campaign, then perhaps consider offering a percentage of sales to the influencer instead of paying them per post. If your objective is to increase engagement, then the financial compensation should be made based on the engagement level resulting from the campaign.

To protect brands, the UAE government is enforcing stricter regulations and transparency through mandatory influencer licensing policies. Soon, we hope that regulators will start verifying accounts even more closely to audit an influencer’s page before issuing any licenses to conduct business.

Opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author.

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