There is much talk about the good and the bad of influencer marketing. Some consider it a key channel to growing both social reach and revenue, others are against using influencers to promote their brands, citing the much-reported issues of fake followers and influencer fraud.
Back in June, Unilever called on the ad industry and social platforms to do more to combat influencer fraud. But despite concerns, according to a survey by the National Advertisers Association, 75% of US brands use it and 43% of brands are set to increase their spend on influencer marketing to boost revenue, brand awareness, reach new audiences and improve brand advocacy.
So how can brands ensure the integrity of the influencers they work with, and make sure they’re reaching real people, not bots?
- Work with influencers who have legitimate followers. To spot the fakes, look for strange patterns in follower behaviour, including things like generic comments and spikes in follower numbers
- Check the location of your influencer’s followers. If they’re a US-based influencer writing about US issues, but all their followers are based in Ukraine, that could indicate something suspicious
- Ensure your influencers declare paid relationships clearly and in line with the ASA’s guidelines
- Ask your influencers for previous campaign examples, so you can see their style. Ask for examples of hard metrics – reach, engagement, traffic, revenue.
- Consider using smaller (non-celebrity) influencers who have solid reach and engagement, but who have real credibility with their peers. They may be more authentic, and have more impact on things that really matter, like sales. For a great example of this, see how J&J used micro influencers (in their case, teens with a small following) to reach a Gen Z audience
- Work with your influencers to come up with clear campaign objectives. Listen to them to understand what will resonate with their followers. A good influencer will know exactly what works for their audiences, and what doesn’t
- Measure the impact of the campaign against those objectives.
- Make sure the implementation feels authentic and fits the brand identity. People need to trust the brand, the campaign and the influencer.
Above all, make sure your influencers have real influence, not just a high number of followers.