Is a fake following ever fair game?

It’s personal: in the wake of the recent influencer scandal, we explain how integrity, legwork and loyalty ensure our relationships live up to their promises.

In a world where the Kardashians hold more sway over Gen Z than any politician and the news agenda is mediated by the latest social platform, the power of the influencer has reached dizzying heights. But while many Instagrammers, YouTubers and digital content creators are now household names, consumers, the industry and brands remain a little cynical about their value. And with a recent exposé shaming a number of ‘reputable’ influencers as cheats, we felt it was time to weigh in. 

Unless you spent early February under a rock, you most likely saw ‘that’ article on fake influencer engagement, by fashion blogger Joel Mclaughlin (more widely known as @Gallucks). The piece named and shamed so-called ‘reputable’ influencers who have inflated their follower numbers by dishonest means. Gone are the innocent days of simply buying likes and follows: the latest tools to inorganically boost your audience are ‘bots’. These automatic programmes identify and follow people who like or follow content similar to your own to encourage a ‘follow back’, before automatically unfollowing a few days later.

Shockingly, many of the influencers who were outed have been working across brand campaigns for some big household names…which begs the question: just how well do we know the talent we align with? And what can we learn about the influencer landscape we live in? 

Digital Content Creators are under intense pressure to keep ahead of the competition, stand out from the crowd and lead their field. Whether it’s fitness, lifestyle, fashion or otherwise, influencers are constantly fighting to retain and attract followers, while cultivating their credibility. But this level of competition doesn’t excuse dishonest behaviour.

Leading by example 

New technology is increasingly available to hold influencers accountable, including policing algorithms from social networks. But it’s influencers like Gallucks (along with Victoria Magrath @inthefrow) who have been trailblazers for the industry. Working tirelessly for two years to expose fraudulent influencers, Gallucks has educated brands and audiences on the signs of a counterfeit account. This kind of integrity sets the bar for the industry and encourages accountability from peers. This transparency and honesty should go a good way to answering the cynicism social influencers face and help secure a future for influencer marketing for years to come.

Influencer authenticity, the instinct way

Influencers are a pillar of our work and we have to know we can trust them. We’re big fans of a number of tools that help us analyse historical influencer data. But we’re also strong believers in doing our own due diligence. We always require influencer talent to share their full insights before contracts are signed, to ensure they are beneficial to the client and the audience we’re trying to connect with. To us it’s personal, and we cultivate longstanding relationships with the influencers and agents we work with. Whatever the world we live in, there’s no substitute for an authentic connection.

Victoria’s article can be found here – https://www.inthefrow.com/2018/10/fake-instagram-engagement.html