Throughout the course of the semester we’ve had multiple influencers and high-profiled guest speakers such as Lauren Carroll of @love_phillyfood, Jared Benoff, client account manager at Twitter and Erin Morrissey of Erin Lives Whole. While all of these influencers are real, there is an entire different world of ‘fake influencers’.
What is a fake influencer? According to Meltwater.com, “Fake influencers can either be bots, or real people who artificially boost their following and engagement by paying for it. The goal is to create accounts that, on the surface, may be of interest to advertisers, but fundamentally, do not influence many people.” I didn’t realize how much of an impact fake influences have on advertising. Personally, I thought they didn’t have much leverage. However, I was wrong. A roundabout of 1.3 billion dollars has been used to pay for fake influences. The image below shows four different types of influencer marketing fraud. It explains how to spot them as it relates to fake followers, fake engagements, fake interests and fake brand deals, all of which happen on a daily basis.
Wired has estimated that there are at least 95 million fake influencers, bot’s or spam accounts that’s sole purpose is to bring in advertising dollars to someone’s business or personal account. A report by cybersecurity firm Cheq projects that these fake fans will cost brands $1.3 billion in 2019 alone. In the influencer economy, you’re paid in part for the size of your audience, which means that, if an influencer’s account is swarming with fake followers, brands are paying extra to reach people who don’t exist.
Is this the advertisers fault for not doing their due diligence? Is it morally wrong on the influencer who is creating these fraudulent accounts? In my opinion, it’s a little bit of both. Major brands like Nike, Polo and Go-Pro all spend millions of dollars on influencer and new media budgets, and they should have someone truly vet out who their influence is and how they have such a big following. There are few questions they should be asking as well as receiving some metrics and data from their influencer. When Erin spoke to our class she talked about a contract that she had with other food vendors and would make sure she followed their guidelines and vice versa. This allowed for a good partnership, but it also built trust with Erin and the companies she worked with.
Spotting fake influencers is something that has become a norm in 2019 and will continue to do so as social media continues to grow and more and more advertising dollars are spent in the space. Brands need to do a better job of finding the fakers out there and not throwing thousands and in some cases millions of dollars at them.
BRANDS, DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE AND RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!