Over the years, influencer marketing has quickly became the go-to strategy for brands to connect with customers. No one really knows how, or when the phenomenon started. But one thing’s for sure – it is almost impossible for brands to thrive without influencer marketing these days.
IUIGA has engaged our fair share of influencers the past 8 months. Lucky for us, we have never had any unpleasant experiences with the influencers we have worked with. IUIGA takes careful precautions when we select influencers to work with. As an advertiser, we understand the uncertainty when you have to pay online personalities to speak for your brand. Hence, we wanted to share some of the tips that may be useful for other advertisers who are thinking of working with influencers.
Check if influencer buys followers or bots
It is not a trade secret that some influencers DO buy followers to inflate their profiles (source). In fact, anyone with $150 can get 20k followers on their Instagram profile. This unethical practice overstates the influencer’s engagement rates, and makes it unfair to advertisers who may be getting less than what they originally paid for.
Platforms like Social Blade provides advertisers with important insights into an influencer’s social media profiles. Check your influencer’s followers growth chart to identify any suspicious activity. Typically, a normal Instagram profile will have a steady growth or decline in followers over time, as pictured below.
However, if the growth chart reveals sharp and consistent spikes in followers, it is possible that your influencer bought followers. From the graph below, it is evident that the influencer had a spike of 20k to 30k followers within 3 days. The spike in followers remained relatively uniform for 4 months, leading to a stair-like shaped followers chart.
Similarly, this follower growth chart for another influencer reveals tremendous and consistent spikes over time. The sudden increase in Instagram followers is not entirely impossible, but extremely rare, especially if the influencer did not post anything particularly different that may help us rationalize the abrupt boost in followers.
Additionally, you can also use Social Blade to check out who is using the ‘follow-unfollow’ method. If an account repeatedly follows 100 or so accounts and then unfollows them a few days later, they are probably trying this tactic.
2. Check if influencer posts genuine content:
Influencers often pride themselves as content creators. However, as this recent article revealed, some “content creators” do not post genuine content. As advertisers pay for online personalities to create unique content for the brand, it is unfair for influencers to deceive advertisers with unoriginal content. This may also ultimately lead to backlash for brands who have worked with deceptive influencers.
To find out if the influencer is genuinely creating content, instead of photoshopping themselves into stock photos, do a reverse image search with Google. As an experiment, we used a sponsored shot of influencer-photographer Daryl Aiden to conduct a Google image search.
Go onto Google Image Search, and search by image.
The Google image search will reveal matches that are visually similar to the picture you uploaded.
Take your time to scroll and you may find replicas
3. Open your ears to industry stories
Brands often share about their good and bad experiences with influencers. Do your own research and take time to understand more about the way different influencers work. For instance, if you are on a tight deadline, make sure to only engage influencers that are known for their punctuality and timely delivery.
Do not immediately dismiss advice and opinions from other advertisers, but also use your own judgement to decide if you should take these rumors with a pinch of salt, This helps you make an objective decision whether to engage the influencer.
For instance, the recent Elaine Jasmine saga highlighted the struggles that some brands face when they deal with influencers that have questionable work ethics (source).
source: Trixie Khong
4. Work with influencers that are interested in your brand
Avoid engaging influencers just for their follower count. Instead, look at the influencer’s feed to understand their lifestyle and interests. If the influencer is a beauty enthusiast, it would not make sense for a active wear brand to work with the influencer. An influencer that is genuinely interested in your brand and products will also be more sincere in the content she creates for you. For instance, to introduce our Full Aluminium Rose Gold Luggage to a greater audience, IUIGA specifically worked with influencers that are avid travellers, like @melissackoh!
Credits: Melissa C. Koh
While there are always a few bad apples in the bunch, it would be unfair to paint all influencers with the same brush. These sagas serve as reminders to all of us, both advertisers and influencers alike, that it is important to be honest and transparent to our fans.
IUIGA has always strived to achieve transparency. These publicised incidents continue to motivate and remind us to be honest with our fans in every aspect – with our product features, prices, even our advertising.