The buzzed-about recent report, “The Follower Factory,” has marketers scrambling to check if the “influencers” they are working with are ripping them off. The article’s investigation of the prevalence of fake Twitter accounts and fake followers used by influencers means that any marketer needs to be extremely cautious about who they retain to help communicate their messages on social media. The challenge, as highlighted in the story, is that brands may have no idea whether influencers have genuine fans and followers or if they have simply paid to make it look like they do.
Fortunately, it really doesn’t need to be this way. The cleansing sunlight of truthful insight and analytics is the best antiseptic for influencers playing dirty. We’re in an era where paid advertising is being held more accountable for the budgets being spent on display and video ads. With marketers no longer tolerating a lack of transparency in their paid campaigns, why should they in their earned media programs?
Companies like ours now give brands true accountability for their earned media, influencer marketing and social media programs — not just on Twitter but across social networks and the web. Brands can get the full picture of the value of their influencer programs by seeing deep insights about who is sharing what content, where and what the lifetime value of that is.
Any brand that wants to get their content shared and engaged with needs to get sophisticated about how that content is being seeded and shared by audience members who have influence and can help create engagement and virality. For a while now, marketers have been questioning the value of high-paid celebrity influencers and want to identify sharers who really create authentic engagement with brand content.
As Kerry Perse of OMD told Adweek, her agency recommends “clients select influencers that are the best match for them based upon a few factors: authentic love of your brand or products, quality or fit of content, and their ability to tap into aspects of culture and conversation that a brand cannot authentically do on its own.”
The brands ShareIQ works with know that they must shift their focus from follower count to ratio of engagement. Research has shown that influencers who get the best engagement typically have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers: they’ve built their audiences organically, and there’s a natural connection between the brands they’re endorsing themselves and their audience.
And, it’s not just the number of posts, likes, or impressions, but it’s also how the content is being shared, what type of engagement influencers are creating not only from themselves, but downstream with their followers. We see that some “micro-influencers” drive really strong second-degree and third-degree engagement in a way that some celebrity influencers do not.
It’s clear that in 2018, brands face challenges from all directions. However, since marketers now have the ability to make their earned media as measurable as their paid media, there’s no reason to keep getting ripped off by influencers with fake followers.