How To Spot Authentic And Fake Instagram Influencers

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Influencer marketing has forever disrupted the marketing scene, and over the past few years, brands have had to adapt as quickly as possible and learn as they go through trial and error. The industry is much more mature now and expected to become a $5-10 billion market within the next five years, according to data from Mediakix. But one thing remains the same: Marketers are still facing the challenge of identifying the right influencers for their campaigns.

In a world where anyone can be in the spotlight and have access to a considerably large audience as long as they have a smartphone in hand, it is increasingly difficult to determine who the real influencers are. Do you base it on audience size or on engagement? Is content quality something to consider and is virality a must?

With all that is at stake, how do you know which influencer is truly going to make a difference for your brand?

To answer this question, we must first understand that the true value of an influencer is the level of trust they have earned from their audience and their ability to sway their opinion and drive them to take action. After all, the definition of the word influence is "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself."

To determine if an influencer is truly influential, consider these key factors:

Are you looking at metrics that truly matter?

Stop using vanity metrics, such as social media follower counts, as indicators of influence. Vanity metrics are easily manipulated, hence the fake followers problem the influencer marketing industry is facing, with brands calling for an end to fraudulent practices.

Having a lot of followers is not synonymous to being influential. A more accurate pointer of influence is engagement. It shows that the influencer’s followers are not only observing but also they are actively participating in what is happening. There is a conversation going on and that is where the power of word-of-mouth lies.

When reviewing engagement, take a look at how many comments, shares or likes the influencer is getting on an average post. Can the influencer provide data from previous sponsored posts that show the click-through rate or traffic generated to a landing page? Look at previous campaigns they may have done in your same niche. What was the engagement rate? Read the comments. How did followers react?

Does the influencer specialize in anything?

The more an influencer specializes on a specific topic, the greater their authority and influence on that subject. Social media users generally tend to have their favorite influencers already identified and categorized as experts in particular niches and know exactly who to go to when it comes to asking for advice or product recommendations.

This is, in part, why microinfluencers are so successful in driving engagement. They may have a smaller number of followers, but they are usually hyper-focused on a niche, and this elevates their credibility in the eyes of their followers. It also creates a loyal, like-minded community of followers who take their opinions seriously and who are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

When it comes to influencer marketing, the more granular you get, the better. You want to work with influencers whose niche aligns with your brand, and this goes beyond subject area. Consider which platforms they specialize in. Are they more powerful and influential on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook Live, and is that where your target audience is?

Is the influencer authentic?

Authenticity is the best quality an influencer can have simply because it is both the foundation of trust and a driver of engagement. Generally, the most authentic influencers receive the most engagement because they are presenting themselves just as they are. This transparency invites people in and creates a connection that generates trust.

The most intimate relationships are built on authenticity, and social media is no different. Looking through an influencer's feed will give you a pretty accurate picture of how they are perceived. Do the conversations with followers seem distant or are they friendly and honest?

Most importantly, consider how relevant this influencer is for your brand and what you’re trying to communicate. In other words, is it genuinely a natural fit?

Does the influencer know their followers?

Great influencers will know exactly what it is their audience is looking for and will openly push back if what you’re asking for is not going to work for them. As a marketer looking to create a successful campaign, and perhaps a long-lasting relationship, you should appreciate this honesty and see it as proof that the influencer knows their community.

This signals that the influencer is devoted to providing only the best and most relevant content and shows a high level of commitment not only to their audience but also to the profession of being an online influencer.

What does their track record look like?

Experience is not necessarily an indicator of quality, authenticity or high engagement, but it does have an impact on the influencer’s clout.

Do they contribute to their field outside of the influencer space? Have they written a book about the topic or perhaps have a television segment or radio show about it? How meaningful is the influencer’s presence beyond social media networks? An influencer who is widely recognized outside of the social media space and who has received awards and acknowledgments holds greater credibility and, therefore, influence.

Determining what success looks like can be rather complicated in an industry where there is no standardized method to measure effectiveness. As influencer marketing evolves and you try new tactics and ways of working with influencers, you may realize that not every influencer is going to meet all of these criteria and that having a certain degree of flexibility is necessary; however, engagement and authenticity are two non-negotiable elements that should always be at the top of your checklist.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.

Do I qualify? " contentScore="6056">

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Influencer marketing has forever disrupted the marketing scene, and over the past few years, brands have had to adapt as quickly as possible and learn as they go through trial and error. The industry is much more mature now and expected to become a $5-10 billion market within the next five years, according to data from Mediakix. But one thing remains the same: Marketers are still facing the challenge of identifying the right influencers for their campaigns.

In a world where anyone can be in the spotlight and have access to a considerably large audience as long as they have a smartphone in hand, it is increasingly difficult to determine who the real influencers are. Do you base it on audience size or on engagement? Is content quality something to consider and is virality a must?

With all that is at stake, how do you know which influencer is truly going to make a difference for your brand?

To answer this question, we must first understand that the true value of an influencer is the level of trust they have earned from their audience and their ability to sway their opinion and drive them to take action. After all, the definition of the word influence is "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself."

To determine if an influencer is truly influential, consider these key factors:

Are you looking at metrics that truly matter?

Stop using vanity metrics, such as social media follower counts, as indicators of influence. Vanity metrics are easily manipulated, hence the fake followers problem the influencer marketing industry is facing, with brands calling for an end to fraudulent practices.

Having a lot of followers is not synonymous to being influential. A more accurate pointer of influence is engagement. It shows that the influencer’s followers are not only observing but also they are actively participating in what is happening. There is a conversation going on and that is where the power of word-of-mouth lies.

When reviewing engagement, take a look at how many comments, shares or likes the influencer is getting on an average post. Can the influencer provide data from previous sponsored posts that show the click-through rate or traffic generated to a landing page? Look at previous campaigns they may have done in your same niche. What was the engagement rate? Read the comments. How did followers react?

Does the influencer specialize in anything?

The more an influencer specializes on a specific topic, the greater their authority and influence on that subject. Social media users generally tend to have their favorite influencers already identified and categorized as experts in particular niches and know exactly who to go to when it comes to asking for advice or product recommendations.

This is, in part, why microinfluencers are so successful in driving engagement. They may have a smaller number of followers, but they are usually hyper-focused on a niche, and this elevates their credibility in the eyes of their followers. It also creates a loyal, like-minded community of followers who take their opinions seriously and who are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

When it comes to influencer marketing, the more granular you get, the better. You want to work with influencers whose niche aligns with your brand, and this goes beyond subject area. Consider which platforms they specialize in. Are they more powerful and influential on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook Live, and is that where your target audience is?

Is the influencer authentic?

Authenticity is the best quality an influencer can have simply because it is both the foundation of trust and a driver of engagement. Generally, the most authentic influencers receive the most engagement because they are presenting themselves just as they are. This transparency invites people in and creates a connection that generates trust.

The most intimate relationships are built on authenticity, and social media is no different. Looking through an influencer's feed will give you a pretty accurate picture of how they are perceived. Do the conversations with followers seem distant or are they friendly and honest?

Most importantly, consider how relevant this influencer is for your brand and what you’re trying to communicate. In other words, is it genuinely a natural fit?

Does the influencer know their followers?

Great influencers will know exactly what it is their audience is looking for and will openly push back if what you’re asking for is not going to work for them. As a marketer looking to create a successful campaign, and perhaps a long-lasting relationship, you should appreciate this honesty and see it as proof that the influencer knows their community.

This signals that the influencer is devoted to providing only the best and most relevant content and shows a high level of commitment not only to their audience but also to the profession of being an online influencer.

What does their track record look like?

Experience is not necessarily an indicator of quality, authenticity or high engagement, but it does have an impact on the influencer’s clout.

Do they contribute to their field outside of the influencer space? Have they written a book about the topic or perhaps have a television segment or radio show about it? How meaningful is the influencer’s presence beyond social media networks? An influencer who is widely recognized outside of the social media space and who has received awards and acknowledgments holds greater credibility and, therefore, influence.

Determining what success looks like can be rather complicated in an industry where there is no standardized method to measure effectiveness. As influencer marketing evolves and you try new tactics and ways of working with influencers, you may realize that not every influencer is going to meet all of these criteria and that having a certain degree of flexibility is necessary; however, engagement and authenticity are two non-negotiable elements that should always be at the top of your checklist.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.

Do I qualify?

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/10/10/how-to-tell-if-an-influencer-is-truly-influential/

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