I work part time as a teacher librarian/tech resource in an elementary school with approximately 520 students in the Simcoe County. It is a role that I am thrilled to be filling because it allows me to combine my two passions – digital media and teaching. Moreover, it equips me with the power to make a positive change to the way consumers and future leaders approach the digital world.

In November, I educated my colleagues/admin about best social media practices in a series of 4 Professional Development seminars. I especially taught them about telling the difference between real news and fake news. In one PD seminar, I was asked to identify one issue that was affecting digital users in the social media world. After a few minutes in deep thought, I came up with the answer – Influencer Fraud.

Influencer fraud is widespread and prevalent. Automated bot accounts, run by software, manipulate follower and engagement rates. Bots automatically retweet posts made by users who have paid for services. Click farms pay people to manually click on links, boosting traffic numbers in the process. Marketers must check the integrity of each influencer’s audience before committing any monies.

Earlier this year a NYT article, The Follower Factory, made headlines. It exposed the serious issue of fraud that lurks within the influencer space on Twitter and other social media platforms. Specifically it pointed the finger at Devumi, a company with a fake Manhattan address that appeared to make its money by generating fake followers for social media celebrities and influencers looking to boost their Twitter followings.

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal was equally as damning. The scandal erupted+ when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a third party company, had access to the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political purposes. One can only guess how much of an influence Cambridge Analytica had on the 2016 Presidential Campaigns. One thing is for sure – it left us all wondering – how much of the information we viewed through Facebook is credible?

Brands have tried to combat the problem of influencer fraud by checking their influencers’ followers, likes, and engagement rates. They also use social media management and verification tools to affirm that their influencers have not paid for fake subscribers or bots. But these metrics can be manipulated. Creators might lie about buying followers. Even verified accounts can purchase follower and engagement services.
The following are 3 ways your business can protect yourself from influencer marketing fraud.

3 Ways to Protect Your Brand from Influencer Fraud | Internet Marketing Toronto

When hiring an influencer, you need to do your due diligence. There is no question about it. Start with the following 3 proven strategies for weeding out fake influencers:

1. Use Influencer Audit Tools to Flag down Fake Influencers

5,000 is the magic number. If a potential influencer has less than 5,000 followers, chances are they are not buying fake fans and likes. Considering that you want influencers with much bigger followings, the following tools may come into good use: Social Blade and CreatorIQ. Both tools will flag down sudden gains or drops in followers or likes for you — the latter of which can indicate an influencer has purged fake followers.

2. Peruse Audience Quality

Before authorizing any transaction, it is important for you to first investigate the origins of the potential influencer’s followers. The bulk of click farms — which inflate engagement numbers by hiring people to interact with links — are located in South Asia, South East Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. Approximately 1.5% of a Canadian influencer’s social media followers will be from Indonesia or India (or nearby). If 5% of that influencer’s followers are from Indonesia or India (or nearby), that is a red flag.

3. Peruse Comment Quality

Unfortunate there are web/mobile apps that automatically generate comments from faker user profiles to beef up post engagements. Most of these comments from these fake user profiles are generic and broad. Rule of thumb: if the comments are all unrelated to the content, this is a major red flag. For instance, if the comments are all emoji-only responses or short messages “love it” and “fabulous!” message, they’re likely not real.

Key Takeaway: When in Doubt, Throw Them Out | Online Marketing

The adage, “when in doubt, throw them out”, does not just apply to old rotten foods. It also applies to influencers with questionable metrics. You cannot afford to hire a fraudulent influencer. Bots and fake followers will not make purchases from you and fraudulent influencers will do nothing more than stay dormant, which will be damaging to your online reputation. My piece of advice to you: do not be fascinated by high follower numbers; always verify. And when in doubt, throw them away.

About iRISEmedia | Internet Marketing Agency | Toronto

iRISEmedia is an internet marketing company located in Toronto that focuses on helping clients in Canada, the U.S. and globally with digital marketing services consisting of social media marketing, website design, SEO and SEM, app development, online reputation management and online PR. Our team helps clients manage and grow their online presence and branding to increase their social media presence, qualified web traffic and online leads. For any internet marketing needs or inquiries, please contact us today at 1-855-493-3622 or visit us on our website.

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