Unilever recently called for 'urgent action' to tackle influencer fraud. In the following days, more brands followed suit.
But this is not the first time influencer marketing has been put under a magnifying glass and criticised for being a murky marketing category.
It’s something that continues to overshadow the marketing tactic and unfortunately, there is some truth in these concerns.
But it’s not because of the category itself, rather lack of best practice from brands and even influencer marketing providers.
Vanity metrics like an influencer’s follower numbers are still being used as a basis for selection. But there is so much more that needs to be considered to make influencer marketing successful.
Ultimately, this is where the issue lies. Just like in any marketing category, when best practice is not followed, there are going to be issues. When you do it right though, it’s a safe and effective form of marketing.
One of the biggest slip-ups in best practice is when selecting influencers. It’s one of the most important parts of the process, but it is often skimmed over.
A deeper level of analysis needs to look at both quantitative and qualitative data to understand an influencer’s audience quality.
This includes not just analysing what percentage of an influencer’s followers are ‘fake’, but how engaged their audience really is. Beyond this, consideration around how a brand and influencer persona and content align is critical.
Has the influencer done a campaign for a competing brand? Have they, or do they, use profanity in posts? These are all factors that brands need to be investigating when vetting influencers.
But unfortunately, it’s not always happening and it’s these poor practices that are giving influencer marketing a bad reputation.
Ultimately, it is the role of brands and influencer marketing providers to be doing this due diligence. Social media platforms are often called on to do more, but we need to remember that social media platforms aim to create an ecosystem.
Its primary purpose for the user base is not for advertising. Vetting users in real time can be extremely difficult, especially as it is easy to confuse new users for fake or disengaged ones.
The platform needs to give these users the benefit of the doubt. It’s why we need third-parties to audit users in real time. Sophisticated technology and algorithms can be used to account for ‘fraud’ in the space.
We need to be using them across the board to enforce best practice.
Let’s not forget why Unilever and others have been spending tens of millions of dollars on the category in the first place.
Only then when there is a consistent standard to follow, will the category be able to overcome the criticisms and prove just how successful it is when done correctly.
Hypetap CEO Detch Singh