How to Protect Your Brand From Influencer Frauds

influencer marketing 101

This article is part of a brand partnership.

Before the Internet, it was common for advertising agencies to use celebrity endorsers and brand ambassadors for product promotions. It’s a popular form of marketing where brands bank on a famous personality’s fame and social status to boost positive brand awareness through direct association. The success of this strategy in terms of reaching a wider audience and building a great brand image has been long proven, and eventually became the bedrock of what is now known as “Influencer Marketing.”

What is an Influencer?

whats an influencer
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Influencers are this generation’s version of celebrity endorsement. They are the people who possess the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others. Much like a brand ambassador, but with a dedicated following especially on social media, they promote products and brand mentions. These types of people have the ability to influence their fan base and are often viewed as experts within a specific niche, therefore serving as social proof to the quality of the brand or product they are endorsing — Influencer marketing without a doubt is an effective inclusion to any marketing strategy.

The Advantages of Working With an Influencer

what is influencer marketing
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Global PR company Edelman published a Trust Barometer study last year with 33,000 participants from 27 countries around the world. The research revealed that 63% of the respondents trust influencer messages about a brand more than a brand’s own advertising messages. Here’s why:

1. It Prioritizes Relatability Over Popularity

In today’s day and age, when consumers are more part of the conversation than sitting on the sidelines watching commerce unfold, the yearning for authenticity is as loud as ever. Brands are slowly shifting their focus from celebrity endorsers to real people. In fact, according to the Edelman research, participants find influencer relatability more important than influencer popularity.

2. It Offers Value and Interest to Consumers

The reason influencers can have such a huge impact on their followers is that they have a better understanding of their fan base. This enables them to come up with content that is relevant, timely, useful, and of value to their market.

3. It is a Cost-Effective Strategy

Getting influencers to promote your brand is not as expensive as using celebrity endorsers, especially if you go for micro or nano-influencers. Costs usually depend on how big an influencer’s following and engagement is, so it all comes down to your specific marketing objective and target reach.

4. It Reaches a Very Specific Market

Influencers are often experts in their niches – whether it’s beauty, fashion, tech, or food, you can be sure that the people following them share the same interest. This means that as a brand, you don’t have to go through the harrowing process of doing extensive market research just to make sure you are spending your marketing budget on the right people.

5. It Can Drive Conversion

According to one of the top software development companies, brands can make three times their investment through influencer marketing. Think about it- out of all digital platforms, including your business website and SEO efforts, social media ranks highest in terms of active users, so it only makes sense that consumers are able to map purchases after they’ve seen an influencer share it on sites like Facebook or Instagram.

Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know

how to get started with influencer marketing
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Google Trends has shown a 90% increase in searches for Influencer marketing over the past five years. And within a decade, that translated to 93% of marketers making it an essential part of their strategy. It has become its own mutually-beneficial digital community made up of brands, consumers, and content creators.

AspireIQ, one of the leading influencing marketing platforms available, did a full analysis of the influencer marketing industry in the context of social media. Here are some statistics that will surely convince you to jump on board the influencer marketing trend:

• According to AspireIQ, the top reason brands work with influencers is for Brand Promotion, followed by Brand Reputation, and Product Launch Promotion.

• 20% of online shoppers were persuaded by a social influencer’s recommendation.

• In terms of effective social media channels, Instagram ranked 1st as the most important and impactful choice for both brands and influencers. 96.5% of brands have a presence on the social site while 830,987 influential accounts are actively using the app.

• Contrary to popular belief, micro and nano-influencers actually provide more value than macro-influencers. As it turns out, influencers with 10 to 50,000 followers show 41.7% higher engagement rates than those with 500,000 and above the number of followers, so take that into consideration when choosing the right influencer.

• The average ROI on Influencer Marketing is 432%. On average, brands spend over $6,000 per influencer campaign and are able to earn media value of more than $26,000. 89% of brands actually find ROI on influencer marketing comparable or better than other marketing channels.

• Since influencers are the ones responsible for creating their own content, brands are able to save at 24% on branded content creation compared to hiring professional photographers.

The Damage Influencer Fraud Could Do to Your Brand

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Of course, as influencer marketing continues to increase in popularity, so does influencer fraud. But what is influencer fraud?

Unlike real influencers who invest time, energy, and resources to craft great content and build a loyal following; fake influencers are those who buy followers and use bots for engagement. This makes them appear more influential than they are in reality. Influencer Fraud banks on the foundation that brands determine who to use as influencers based on fan base growth and engagement.

It’s important to stay vigilant when it comes to influencer fraud because it directly affects your brand image. Unwittingly choosing a fake influencer could lead to the following:

• Spending your market budget on something that will not get you results.

• A waste of resources since every campaign is a combination of time, money, and hard work.

• Losing brand credibility for being associated with a fake influencer.

• Two Crucial Things to Do Before Working With an Influencer

1. Identifying Real from Fake Influencers

Like we mentioned before, the best way to determine if an influencer is authentic or fraudulent is by observing both its fan base and engagement patterns. To do this, you can utilize statistics tools to evaluate the fan base growth rate of potential influencers.

Once you’ve checked out vanity metrics, you then have to spend time analyzing audience quality. Here is when you check an influencer’s follower profiles in order to determine bot accounts from real accounts.

No social media profile is perfect, so you can’t expect a 100% result, but from the examples above, you can see that the first one had 71.5% estimated real followers while the second one has 44.6% estimated real followers which makes it a fraudulent account.

2. Details to Look Into for your Brand’s Protection

The first step to securing your brand from fake influencers is knowing what to look for to spot them. Thankfully, there are telltale signs you can check that make it easy to identify. Here’s a quick list to help you out:

Sudden social following spike

Genuine influencers get a solid following through months and years of publishing creative content. This means that a loyal fan base doesn’t happen overnight, so if you see an influencer who went from 100 to 5000 in a few days’ time, then it’s safe to assume your brand is better off looking the other way.

Inconsistent engagement behavior

More than follower growth, engagement behavior is also a key indicator of authenticity. The average engagement rate is around 2% to 4%, so if you see an influencer with a large fan base but an almost non-existent engagement, then chances are the account’s followers were bought, not earned. In addition to that, bot-generated comments are often vague like this…

Generic content

The real power of influencer marketing is rooted in great content, and great content takes a lot of time. Fake influencers often use stock photography with captions that sound generic, impersonal, and even self-serving at times. The key here is to dig deep and see if the influencer’s background, history, values, and content are aligned with your brand.


Influencer marketing can be extremely beneficial to your brand when done right. As with any marketing strategy, it starts with doing your part by investing in researching and understanding your market and the types of people they trust. While it may seem like a lot of work at first, it’s going to be a worthy investment once you find the right influencers.