Influencer marketing fraud – is it time to act? It’s a vital conversation for brands that are spending their marketing budget on influencer marketing to have. Marketing Dive reported that 39% of marketers are actively increasing their marketing budgets this year, with 86% of marketers already relying on an influencer marketing strategy.

It’s simple – bot accounts cannot be influenced, and fake engagement cannot be monetised. Yet as an industry, we are continuing to face issues that can ultimately have damaging effects on influencer marketing. However, it’s not all that easy to spot bot accounts and even if you do, getting rid of them for good is almost impossible.

Luckily, social platforms such as Twitter announced its long overdue spring clean, which wiped a staggering 7 million suspicious and fake accounts from the platform. It’s certainly a step in the right direction for eliminating fraud but is it enough?

It’s not just brands that are affected, as influencer marketing agencies are up against the battle of fake followers on a daily basis. As the core of their business revolves around influencers and providing a quality service to brands, they must have systems in place to prevent the use of poorly engaged content creators.

“Our team at Kairos Media are communicating with influencers and brands on a daily basis, therefore it is vital that we are fully aware of each influencers following and engagement ratio so that only authentic influencers are recommended to collaborate with the brands that we represent,” said Chris Parnell, director at Kairos Media.

Here are the key steps for brands that take ownership of their influencer strategy in-house to consider before working with influencers on your next influencer marketing campaign.

1. Calculate engagement rates

The Influencer Marketing Hub calculated that both Facebook and Twitter average their engagement rate of between 0.5-1.0%, whereas the average Instagram engagement rate is 3%. Therefore, any engagement rate aligned with this or above, combined with a high number of followers, suggests that they have an authentic following.

2. Monitor follower growth

If profiles are showing signs of significant growth, and we are talking thousands of new followers within 24 hours, then you can safely assume that these have been purchased or are an influx of bot accounts. Organic growth is hard work, especially with the changes to the algorithms across the social platforms, so steady follower growth is likely to be legitimate. It’s key to remember that 100 engaged followers are more valuable than 100,000 bot accounts.  

3. Ask for evidence

When liaising with influencers, ask to see their statistics and examples of how their content performed in previous brand partnerships. In the same way that a company would not hire a sales director without seeing proof of their success, you should not collaborate with influencers on the same basis.

Moving forward with influencer campaigns

There is no promise that you are going to have authentic influencers in a heartbeat, however, following these simple steps will help to ensure you receive good engagement and value for money alongside combating bot accounts.