NDA Viewpoints: The future of influencer marketing – fake followers & micro-micro influencers

New Digital Age is running a series of articles looking at the future of influencer marketing, talking to experts in the market around how the discipline will evolve over the coming year.

Shannon Maclean Arnott, Strategy Director at MOFILM

Today marketers are faced with the challenge of connecting with a more discerning customer than ever. We know that people often trust reviews and recommendations from peers more than brands, which is why influencer marketing has been so successful. 

We’re now seeing a shift away from big celebrity influencers. Micro-influencers with authority in a specific space are offering a more personal touch and greater authenticity than influencers with millions of followers, who are akin to mass broadcast in a time when personalisation is everything.

I expect to see an expansion of this trend over the next year, with brands tapping into micro-micro influencers in the form of real customers. Brands like LUSH, Glossier and H&M are seeing great success from giving an active voice to their fans and creating hyper-engaged communities. 

This goes beyond user-generated content by giving fans with influence a chance to shape a brand they love. In turn, it will future-proof brands by having content and products intended for a specific audience shaped by that audience. It’s a positive feedback loop that will lead to more authentic, human marketing.

Zaza Biddu, Managing Partner, PMK•BNC London 

In the coming year we’ll see more measures in place to combat ‘Fake Followers’ which affect influencers authority, credibility and brings their overall value under question, as well as costing brands money and their reputation. Influencers are already taking steps directly to avoid getting tainted by the Fake Follower scandal and social platforms have started tackling the issue by deleting thousands of bot accounts over the past year.

As we move further into 2019 agencies and brands will adapt to address the growing issue. Here are five key strategies I’d recommend:

1.   Dig Deep into Data: there are multiple influencer marketing platforms out there that can give you access to a range of data, including Fake Follower trackers. Be sure to really dig into the data available – you’ll likely require a mix of tools to make a proper assessment

2.   Select Metrics that Matter: each campaign will vary when it comes to the desired impact, therefore different metrics and data points will be relevant. Don’t just follow the numbers, prioritise what’s key to achieving your results.

3.   Look out for Red Flags: there are definite red flags when figuring out if an influencer has Fake Followers, such as a mismatch in correlation between engagement rates and followings. There are also parts of the world where bots are more prominent than others, so when assessing whether an influencer has fake followers or not, it’s worth looking into their demographics.

4.   Measurement and Reporting: campaign measurement and analysis can indicate if Fake Followers have affected the partnership results. There are approaches that can help overcome this, such as exploring different payment models including success-based incentives – influencers with Fake Followers will be wary of this as they know they won’t be able to deliver. 

5.   Talent Transparency: work with agents and talent that are trusted and transparent so you can be confident of their follower base and the realness of it.

This is a complex issue to be navigated by brands and agencies with no one size fits all solution. By remaining vigilant, informed and never becoming complacent we’ll eliminate the fakes from the followers. 

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