Con?! What’s That?
When people hear the word con, they probably don’t think about people in the influencer world.
When I first started working in the influencer industry, I had no idea that people had the capability to “con” others. I knew that things like propaganda existed. I knew that marketing tactics could be shady.
I didn’t realize that influencers specifically were conning audiences and companies with fake accounts and false stories. Influencer marketing is making an impact in the marketing world, so it’s essential to practice honesty. Many consumers are demanding that companies, influencers and anyone on social media be transparent.
The industry as a whole is shifting, and consumers view advertising differently. Now that I’ve worked in the influencer market for a bit of time, I’ve seen a lot of fraudulent influencers in the industry.
At first, I wasn’t aware of the ways that fake accounts come off as real. The methods for deceiving others are becoming more and more real. Everything from followers to engagement can be completely fabricated and sometimes, the audience will never know.
Even worse, brands fall for those fake accounts and spend their money on the wrong type of influencer. At BeautyClout, we care about your needs for honesty and authenticity.
We want to let you know how to avoid con influencers!
But Why Fake?
When I first heard about fake accounts, I wondered why people wanted to create fake accounts at all.
It didn’t make sense, but then I found out how easy it is to make a fake account and get paid for one. All you need to start a phony influencer account is money and some high-quality stock photos.
Then, most people buy fake followers and likes to come off as a popular figure without actually doing the work to get there. Just like the influencer market, the business of making fake accounts and monetizing off of it is growing.
It’s incredibly lucrative when done the right way.
Buying or Selling Fake Followers is Illegal
According to Social Media Today, a court has ruled that an American company that sells fake followers and likes, can no longer operate.
The ruling outlawed the sale of social media followers and likes.
So, if you’re using fake followers and buying counterfeit likes, now’s the time to stop.
If you’ve gone too far off the deep end, you might want to consider making a new account and rid yourself of the fake likes and followers.
Don’t hesitate to start an original path, especially when legality is involved.
So, How Can Your Business Avoid Con Influencers?
Influencers are everywhere, which makes it challenging to find authentic ones.
Luckily, as a business, you’re not alone, and there are many routes to take when searching for the right influencer. If you’re launching a new business, taking time to find the right influencers is essential.
If you’ve been a business for a while, it’s still important to be able to spot out the cons in the influencer game.
In the influencer market, storytelling and providing valuable content is essential for authenticity. Brands should always look for influencers that have a personal brand and provide an experience for their followers.
These kinds of influencers typically slowly gained more engagement, more followers, and an audience that enjoys what they have to offer. In short, they became influencers because they were honest, not because they bought any fake followers or likes.
If you want to avoid working with con influencers, here are some tricks to keep your eye out.
Tricks to Know
1) Followers don’t necessarily equal engagement
When you are looking for the perfect influencer for your brand, you might think that their social media following is the most critical aspect. It isn’t.
A long list of followers doesn’t necessarily mean exposure for your brand, especially if the influencer has a bunch of fake followers.
Many authentic Instagram influencers with thousands of followers are known because of something they did or said. Unless the influencer went viral, they probably had a slow rise to stardom. They’ve probably been working for a long time to gain their following.
Genuine influencers will have a link that leads you to their story. Very few influencers have high engagement without having an authentic and relatable story.
Of course, a Google search goes a long way in the influencer business but it’s still important to do other types of research. Primarily since people lie online by making fake news stories. Being thorough is important.
Look for evidence of this person beyond the followers they have.
2) Ratio matters
Engagement rates are vital when it comes to working with influencers.
An influencer having hundreds of thousands of followers won’t have high engagement, but it should be more than 1%. The median engagement rate on Instagram is about 3%.
If an influencer has 1,000,000 followers, nearly 30,000 should like and comment on their posts. Another critical thing to look out for is the “following” vs. “followers” ratio. This is a good indicator because then you can see if the influencer is even engaged with an audience at all.
If the influencer follows the exact amount of people that support them, they might be a fake. They probably only gained followers by asking people to follow back.
It’s essential to go through the list of followers and see if they make sense for the content they produce.
3) Use Modern Agencies, Not Traditional PR Firms
Traditional PR firms shouldn’t be on your list because they operate like out of touch, or fake influencers.
Most times, these firms won’t keep track of any analytics but offer real engagement in exchange for absurd amounts of money. Some of the firms promise of interviews and television segments without having any real understanding of what that entails.
A PR person writes out a media pitch and tries to leverage their network to get results. In contrast, a modern media company, such as an influencer marketing agency, will know exactly how to match you to the right influencer.
They can’t guarantee a great campaign will come out of it, but they can assure that they’ll try their best to get you everything you need.
A right influencer agency, such as BeautyClout, will have influencers that create their original and appealing content for your brand.
4) Reach & Engage First!
Some fake influencers know how to finesse the influencer market.
They know that buying followers isn’t the best way to have a presentable account. These days, most influencers also buy comments, which looks like fake engagement.
The comments are often hard to notice as artificial, mainly since many people use them to see if engagement is there. Reach, and engagement means that people no only like the posts but also genuinely engage with the posts as well.
Since likes and comments can be bought, it’s essential to know whether the comments reflect anything about the position. If not, you should assume that the comments are fake and that the influencer is a fake as well.
Another thing to look out for is whether the comments are from a variety of people.
When choosing to work with an influencer, ask them if they have analytics that shows how well their platform is doing.
5) Marketplace Influencers
Beware of influencers who will sell a promotion for the best price without thought or understanding of what they are selling.
These influencers tend to have less integrity. For example, flat tummy Tea is a company with notoriety, but they market to a specific demographic. If an influencer that doesn’t match that demographic works with them, they might be a fake.
The best influencers are picky and will only work with that that align with their overall messages. Another insightful measure to look through is their past paid sponsorships. These posts have the #ad, #spon or #sponsored hashtags. This content is essential because you’ll be able to see if the influencer has been consistent with their brand.
Knowing which brand this influencer has worked with and whether it feels authentic or not will help you avoid con influencers that want to take your money. An influencer with a community won’t spam followers with sponsored content that doesn’t align with what they’ve promoted in the past.
Real followers know when an influencer is being deceptive. Successful influencers select brands that make sense for with their community and their overall message.
The products they promote must help their community.
6) Content Consistency
An essential way of spotting fake influencers is by checking how often they post content.
Consistency is critical when it comes to the influencer market. If an influencer isn’t posting regularly, they should be posting content that makes sense, consistently.
This understanding means that an authentic influencer shouldn’t be posting one piece of substance one day and another piece another day. Brand messaging should be consistent, always.
Some influencers only post once a month and have high engagement with their followers because they post content that relates to what they’ve always said. Fake accounts often gain followers overnight, and post a massive amount of times and then become silent.
They also tend to post sporadic content where they post about businesses that don’t relate to anything they’ve talked about before.
7) Reach The Right Audience
The right target audience for your business is essential.
You have to work with and influencer that has pretty much the same local crowd that buys your products already.
The vetting process for choosing an influencer needs to include this aspect. It’s essential to have a conversation with the influencer about their community and whether it aligns with yours. If they are authentic, they should already know whether their audience will respond to your brand.
They should care about what their followers want. If an influencer is hung up on posting promotions without much thought, they probably don’t care about their audience.
An influencer that cares won’t post things their audience doesn’t like or won’t respond to. Great influencers engage with their community in ways that make the community feel included.
An authentic influencer deeply cares and understands their audience. They probably also have high engagement levels because of their understanding.
An influencer that doesn’t attend to their audience is probably fake.
8) Analytics are the fine print
An influencer should always be willing to hand over all the details and demographics of their audience across social media platforms.
If they are genuine, they will know that information like that is essential for brands to see their work and how it translates. You can also use experts to find and analyze the data, especially the date that shows engagement.
Analytics measure the effectiveness of campaigns with influencers and help you see if you reached your goals. Don’t rush to make deals with influencers who pitch out their services to anyone willing to pay them, especially if they won’t give the analytics.
Go over accounts and social media platforms and see which influencers provide and produce the content that you need. You’ll need to look for other things besides a high number of followers.
Use the help of professionals to find the best influencers for your brand.
9) Check follower location
Checking geographic location is extremely important because you’ll want to see if their following matches yours.
If your potential influencer is a person based in America, but the majority of their followers live in far off countries, there’s a high chance that they are inauthentic. Even though digital media is a global phenomenon, it doesn’t mean that all of someone’s followers should be from different countries
This is especially when there’s a language barrier.
It’s effortless to have a demographic of people that follow you from a different place. So, don’t be alarmed but if they don’t have many followers from their residence, they are probably a fake.
If you still can’t tell, you should go through the followers and see if they match the influencer at all.
Your Brand Can Avoid The Cons
Just because fake influencers exist, doesn’t mean that your brand needs to fall into the trap.
After reading this, you should feel more equipped to take on the world of fake influencing. Here, at BeautyClout, we care about whether your brands work with authentic influencers, especially with so much at stake.
We ensure that all of our influencers are legit, honest, and authentic. Most importantly, they are great at what they do! Check us out today, and let us know what you think.
Are you an influencer that’s dealt with influencer fraud before? Let us know in the comments below!