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Keeping Influencer Marketing Authentic: How To Get Around Fake Followers
Influencer marketing. It’s a unique, clever and ever-changing practice that most brands either already use or have seriously considered.

With such a wide range of business applications from product awareness to event attendance, influencers offer a level of third-party credibility that brands oftentimes cannot achieve on their own. While most of us are on board, a recent article by Forbes highlights one thing marketers are wary about when it comes to influencer marketing: fake followers.

It’s no secret that the Internet – especially social media – is rife with fraudulent or inactive users. In fact, last year Facebook reported that it disabled 583 million fake accounts in just a few months. Influencer programs can carry a hefty price tag, so why should we spend money on eyeballs that potentially aren’t human?

Here are a few tips and tricks for avoiding fake followers and getting the most bang for your buck on influencer programs.

Look Beyond Vanity Metrics

While the digital landscape cleans up its act, or at least attempts to, there are plenty of data points that indicate campaign success other than a high following. Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence Central reinforces this by saying they’ve “seen a large increase in brands and agencies looking towards engagements over impressions to gain a better understanding of how the campaign performed.” With your influencer campaigns, take into consideration engagement rates, customer sentiment and performance of previous sponsored content (if applicable).

While social platforms have been notorious for dragging their feet on bot-traffic issues, there is progress to tout, as previously noted. Check out the chart below for number of accounts removed over the past year from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t Be Shy In Asking For What You Want

Since many important metrics like Instagram Story views or number of Swipe-Ups aren’t readily available on the marketing side, be upfront in asking influencers to share that information with you. Brittany Hayes, influencer behind the lifestyle and design blog Addison’s Wonderland, says she gets asked for things as simple as screenshots of impressions, blog views or audience demographics. It’s great to leverage proprietary solutions where possible, but access to first-party data is always the way to go.

Use Tools

According to the ANA’s recent ad fraud report, the estimated loss of money attributed to bots in 2018 was a whopping $5.8B globally. While a staggering number, this is down 11 percent from the $6.5 billion reported in their previous study in 2017. Alongside abated (albeit large) losses, nearly two thirds of marketers plan on increasing influencer marketing budgets in 2019.

Why? There’s still more to gain than lose when working with authentic influencers to connect with key audiences and build credible word-of-mouth… as long as you have the right practice in place. Ryan Derrow, Senior Vice President, Media Innovation at Empower emphasizes a proactive process that includes technology partnerships and active campaign management. “With people and technology combined in a focused effort against fraud, the numbers clearly show that the issue can be largely overcome.” Tools like the end-to-end software platform Klear or online engagement rate calculators will  help you make a strategic, well-informed decision.

Rest assured that there are several ways you can verify influencers and measure their followers to get the most out of a campaign. Go out there, stop fretting the fake followers and embrace the relationships.