Earlier this year, Unilever sent a strong message against working with influencers who buy followers. The company made a public commitment to actively eradicate any influencers using fake followers, bots, or other fraudulent practices from its brands’ global marketing spend. Following this announcement, many other brands followed, such as eBay, Diageo, and L’Oréal indicating that they too are cracking down on influencer fraud.

Also joining the fight against fake followers are social platforms looking to rebuild integrity and trust within the digital marketing space. Earlier this year, Facebook suspended several large groups that helped members artificially inflate their perceived popularity, reach, and engagement on Instagram. One of these groups, called “engagement pods”, boasted over 200,000 members. Instagram actively shuts down third-party services and bots that automate thousands of generic comments and likes on posts. Now Twitter is looking to do the same and to stop the artificial amplification of certain Tweets.

As the influencer marketing industry works to weed out the “fakes” and moves towards greater transparency and trust, here are five ways your brand can find authentic and effective influencers:

Seek True Alignment with Your Brand

Do you know who your super fans are? Can you identify who among your customers truly gets excited about your products or services and tells everyone they know about it?  

You don’t need a social media superstar or celebrity to create excitement and passion around your brand. Look for individuals in your current fan base whose personality and audience already align with your brand’s values and voice. Working with people who already have a credible connection to your brand is the best influencer marketing tactic, it shows true authenticity.

Focus on Quality, not Quantity

It’s easy to get distracted by vanity metrics like follower counts and impressions. These figures are open to the public, accessible, and widely promoted but, as mentioned above, they are not always an accurate or honest portrayal of an influencer’s reach or more importantly value. When looking for authentic influencers for your brand, the quality of engagement matters more than the quantity.

Knowing which engagement metrics to consider for your brand starts with having clear and focused objectives for your campaigns and hiring influencers based on these goals. This leads to more meaningful and successful relationships with influencers and driving the results you want.

Watch Out for Tell-Tale Signs of a Fake

There are some simple ways to determine if an influencer is buying followers or faking engagement. A skewed ratio of likes or comments to the number of followers, comments that have little or no relevance to the content of their posts, and huge, overnight spikes in follower rates are just some tell-tale signs of this. It could also be proof that their content simply doesn’t connect with an audience.

As you identify and evaluate influencers for your campaigns, look for people who are creative, actively participating in back-and-forth chatter within their community, and consistently produce more than just sponsored content. Shares, length of video views, and tagging within comments are other strong indicators of genuine engagement, reach, and authority. If available, examine their previous partnerships with other brands and ask for data that proves they have actually swayed audience behavior or public opinion about a brand. A strong influencer will be able to show how they have driven spikes in web traffic, helped reach a new target audience, or generated sales upon the launch of a campaign.

Use Technology AND Humans to Identify Influencers

We believe that properly vetting influencers before they work on a campaign or join a network is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting quality influencers without fake followers.  We believe the human element is of utmost importance when vetting influencers – work with an agency that doesn’t rely solely on technology to identify influencers. We also believe that having a human touch is a key component in detecting fake followers and that no technology can replace a human’s experience and skills at analyzing.

Choose Your Agencies Wisely

Before you work with an agency, ask how they vet their influencers.  You want to look for agencies that vet influencers not only for the quality of content but for authentic engagement – looking to ensure comments and shares are real and the engagement to follower ratio is realistic.  You also want an agency that uses both technology and the human element to vet influencers.

How are you going to find the right influencers for your next campaign?

This post has been modified from the originally published post on Blissful Media Group

Paula Bruno

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