There has been a lot of speculation and fear about influencer marketing over the last year. However if you take a look at digital marketing collectively, you can see that similarly other channels have been through the same issues. For instance, five years ago eMarketer reported that 50% of programmatic budget was going towards bot fraud. Quickly the industry worked through these issues, the IAB set viewability standards, platforms and 3rd party partners took more responsibility and put new settings in place.
Influencer marketing is going through the same teething problems, platforms and agencies are working hard to prevent bot fraud. Earlier this year Instagram announced they had developed a new API system to track down and stop bot activity on its platform. This means users with fake followers and likes saw a massive drop in their follower count and engagement (with some even dropping to zero) with the new changes.
Influencer agencies and platforms are also cracking down on these bots. For instance, we have created a proprietary algorithm that allows us to view engagement ratios and app activity and blacklist fake influencers.
Wait….what are bots?
Instagram bots are designed to give you mass followers, likes and comments on your Instagram photos and videos. Bots are anything that push automatic engagement such as like farms, mass commenters and follow to unfollow apps.
Bots auto follow accounts to get users to follow them back to create a social media presence and market their products and push brand awareness.
So, how do you make sure you aren’t working with fake influencers?
We combine machine learning technology and our human approach to establish great working relationships with influencers and avoid working with fake influence. We have proprietary algorithm that identifies all major bot apps and fake accounts to blacklist fake influencers. We have a team of influencer experts who also look organically at comments, audience analysis, follower growth, tone of voice, sentiment, relevancy, and audience insights, to determine whether they generate authentic engagement. While tech supports our decisions, the real identification can only be determined by a human.
For instance, we think about these questions when identifying influencers:
Are they business savvy?
What past collaborations were successful and why?
Have we established a good working relationship?
Is their content creative / high quality and do they post frequently?
Are they on more than one channel?
Are they respectable in their community and do they generate strong engagement?
What could this mean for your brand?
Relevancy is key when selecting the right influencers so you’ll need a strategic partner to ensure you have the right settings in place to prevent bot fraud and help you develop a best-in-class influencer strategy.
Follower numbers don’t equal influence. If they are followed by ghost accounts, their audience will have no interest in the brand’s product. Brands will have to rethink their approach and target the right creators who generate real influence and genuine engagement. Thankfully, platforms and agencies are working quickly to prevent fake influence and we expect to see a significant decrease of bot app usage and websites in the next year.