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Instagram Assists with Weeding Out Fake Influencers

Love them or hate them, influencers have become an integral part of many brands’ marketing campaign.  The benefit of influencer marketing campaigns is that the influencer’s endorsement targets a specific on-brand demographic.  Moreover, influencer endorsements can have the appearance of being more authentic: every day people using every day products in their every day lives.  Influencer brand campaigns are almost the anti-thesis of the highly engineered celebrity campaigns that we are used to seeing in magazines and on TV commercials.

Influencer: Friend or Foe?

Brands partner with influencers in exchange for monetary compensation, free products or perks, such as free attendance to events as ‘press’.  Rightfully so, brands expect a return on investment, namely increased sales and/or exposure.  There are certainly many influencers who have created professional, authentic and sophisticated marketing platforms that legitimately benefit third party brands.  However, there are also many influencers who have faked their social media following to give the appearance of being a legitimate marketing platform for third party brands; yet it’s all smoke and mirrors.  Once you become familiar with the various social media platforms, it’s easier to spot the pretend influencers.  Take for example the Instagram ‘influencer’ with 24,000 followers who posts consistently, yet only gets between 100 to 200 likes per post, with only a handful of comments per post.  The math between the number of followers and the followers’ engagement simply doesn’t add up.  There’s a good chance that the influencer has purchased their followers, which are not real, and may also have purchased the engagement.  Any brand willing to invest in these fake influencers is almost guaranteed to see no return on investment.

What Is Instagram’s Position?

Social media platforms derive their revenue from brands’ marketing spend.  Thus, in order for social media platforms to flourish, they need to ensure that brands buy into the platform.  Instagram, recognizing that the mushrooming of fake influencer accounts devalued Instagram as a third party marketing platform, recently took steps to crack down on fake influencer accounts.  Specifically, Instagram shut down ‘botting’, whereby influencers subscribe with third party companies who create fake automated traction on the influencer’s Instagram account (i.e. fake follows/unfollows, fake comments, fake likes, etc.).  With Instagram’s crack down on ‘botting’, the traction on some influencers’ accounts will significantly decrease.

Best Practices for Social Media Influencer Campaigns: Brand

If you are a brand that is launching a social media influencer campaign, do your due diligence.  Look at the number of followers of potential influencers; consider the ratio of followers v. comments v. like.  Look at the quality of the comments: do they make sense to the actual content posted?  Or are they generic and irrelevant to the content?  Use your common sense.  Consult with a brand strategist.

Carefully architect a social media influencer agreement.  Codify the terms, rights, obligations and expectations.  Strategically architect the termination provision for unmet performance milestones.  Carefully structure contractual representations and warranties so that the influencer must produce an authentic influencer engagement.

Best Practices for Social Media Influencer Campaigns: Legitimate Influencers

If you are an influencer who is legitimate and put in the work to become a sought after marketing platform for brands, structure your business properly.  Consider incorporating.  Protect your own intellectual property.  Ensure that you enter into influencer agreements with the right type of protection that guards against non-payment.  Negotiate strong indemnification clauses that protect against third party intellectual property infringement and/or non-compliance with governing legislation.

Best Practices for Social Media Influencer Campaigns: Fake Influencers 

Be authentic.  Do the work.  You are denigrating a flourishing industry and taking advantage of brand owners that are investing in you by padding your actual reach.