At this year’s Cannes Lions festival, Unilever sent a strong message against working with influencers who buy followers. The company made a public commitment to actively eradicate any influencers using fake followers, bots, or other fraudulent practices from its brands’ global marketing spend. Following this announcement, many other brands such as eBay, Diageo, and L’Oréal shared that they are also cracking down on influencer fraud.

Social media platforms have joined the fight to rebuild integrity and trust within the digital marketing space too. Earlier this year, Facebook suspended several large groups that helped members artificially inflate their perceived popularity, reach, and engagement on Instagram. One of these groups, called “engagement pods”, boasted over 200,000 members. Instagram actively shuts down third-party services and bots that automate thousands of generic comments and likes on posts. Now Twitter is looking to do the same.

As the influencer marketing industry works to weed out the “fakes” and moves towards greater transparency and trust, here are five ways Blissful Media Group can find authentic and effective influencers for your brand:

Seek True Alignment with Your Brand

Do you know who your super fans are? Can you identify who among your customers truly gets excited about your products or services and already tell everyone they know about it?  

You don’t need a social media superstar or celebrity to create excitement and passion around your brand. Look for individuals in your fan base whose personality and audience already align with your brand’s values and voice. Authenticity resonates and working with people who already have a credible connection to your brand is the best influencer marketing tactic.

Focus on Quality, not Quantity

It’s easy to get distracted by vanity metrics like follower counts and impressions. These figures are open to the public, accessible, and widely promoted but, as mentioned above, they are not always an accurate or honest portrayal of an influencer’s reach or value. When looking for authentic influencers for your brand, the quality of engagement matters more than the quantity.

Knowing which engagement metrics to consider for your brand starts with having clear and focused objectives for your campaigns and hiring influencers based on these goals. This leads to more meaningful and successful relationships with influencers and driving the results you want. As your agency, we can help hone the focus for your campaigns and find the very best influencers for your target audience.

Watch Out for Tell-Tale Signs of a Fake

There are some simple ways to sniff out if an influencer is buying followers or faking engagement. A skewed ratio of likes or comments to the number of followers, comments that have little or no relevance to the content of their posts, and huge, overnight spikes in follower rates are just some tell-tale signs of this. It could also be proof that their content simply doesn’t connect with an audience.

As you identify and evaluate influencers for your campaigns, look for people who are creative, actively participating in back-and-forth chatter within their community, and consistently produce more than just sponsored content. Shares, length of video views, and tagging within comments are other strong indicators of genuine engagement, reach, and authority. If available, examine their previous partnerships with other brands and ask for data that proves they have actually swayed audience behavior or public opinion about a brand. A strong influencer will be able to show how they have driven spikes in web traffic, helped reach a new target audience, or generated sales upon the launch of a campaign.

Use Technology AND Humans to Identify Influencers

At Blissful Media Group, we believe that properly vetting influencers initially before they join our network is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting quality influencers without fake followers.  We believe the human element is of utmost importance when vetting influencers – we don’t rely solely on technology to identify influencers. Of course, we will use tools that aid in detecting bots but we also believe that having that human touch is a key component in detecting fake followers.  We strongly believe that no technology can replace a human’s experience and skills at analyzing.

Creating a Vetting Process

At Blissful Media Group, we carefully vet our influencers by being selective as to who we allow into our network as well as who we engage for particular programs for clients.  We vet our influencers not only for the quality of content but for authentic engagement – looking to ensure comments and shares are real and the engagement to follower ratio is realistic.

Let us help find authentic and effective influencers for your marketing campaigns. Request a proposal or find out more by contacting Paula Bruno at  Blissful Media Group.