Social Influencer Marketing is BIG business. According to Entrepreneur Magazine by the year 2020 (Next Year) the influencer market space will swell to a whopping $5-$10 Billion Dollar a Year Industry.
The reality is that old-school, traditional marketing centered around TV and radio just isn’t as effective as it used to be. So, brands are focusing their efforts on places where their audiences are spending their time—Online and often on social media.
As influencer marketing increases, a shady side of the business has begun to rear its ugly head. Influencer Fraud. Influencer Fraud is when influencers artificially inflate the numbers of their followers and likes. Using automation and bot backed services it’s easy for someone to appear to be a popular online personality. Companies are starting to push back.
Recently making news is the story of a U.K. based fashion influencer who boasted of having over 230,000 followers on Instagram. This influencer who worked with over 22 name brands in 2018 charged $1,000 per post. Turns out that 96% of her following and engagement were FAKE. Costing the brands that she worked with a loss of $960.00 per post. She will now be responsible for paying that money back and could face serious fraud charges. There are now companies that can successfully measure if your social media accounts are inflated or not. Which means, paying a little for a following now, could cost you BIG TIME in the future.
If this wasn’t reason enough not to inflate your social media numbers, here are three other reasons why buying social media followers, is just a bad idea.
#1 Numbers aren’t everything
Companies are no longer focused on the number of followers an influencer has on social media. There are now more important metrics that are driving their decision to dole-out-dollars.
How many people engage with you on a regular basis?
How many Twitter lists people have added you to?
How many leads and sales social media is driving?
How much traffic to your website your social efforts are driving?
These are all taking into consideration now by major brands when working with influencers.
#2 Low Engagement / Low Edgerank Score.
Edgerank is the Facebook algorithm that decides which stories appear in each user’s newsfeed. The algorithm hides boring stories and promotes popular ones. If you have low engagement on your posts, this is the reason no one is seeing them, and your reach is diminished. Focus on building a real community around your brand / business. By doing this, you’ll attract an audience that is truly interested in your topic. The reward comes in the form of comments, likes, shares and feedback.
This is what big businesses are looking for when partnering with a social media influencer. Honestly, if your engagement is high, you can start landing deals with as little as 1,000 followers.
#3 Loss of Integrity & Reputation
While it’s true that that morality means different things to different people, it’s safe to assume that most of the people and businesses in the social media space see buying followers as an immoral practice. Activities such as going from 30 followers to 30,000 followers in the space of a couple of days is bound to get people and brands suspicious, costing you a nice piece of the Influencer Market share.
#4 You’ll Get Found Out
As mentioned earlier, companies and big-name brands like Amazon, Disney, DreamWorks, NBC Universal and others are working with companies that have developed AI-Powered tools that can now show who paid to boost their engagement. With the Influencer market swelling to a $5-$10 Billion dollar a year industry, you better believe that Brands are protective of their investments.
Sites like Fake Followers Check and the new algorithm developed by Social Chain, are making sure that Influencer Fraud is brought to justice. This will lead to serious legal and financial ramifications for those Influencers to fake their numbers. Save yourself the headache and just grow your community organically.
In closing, well apart from the practice of buying followers and engagement not being a moral practice, it can also lead to the suspension, closing or even the deletion of your social media accounts.
The number of followers you have isn’t that important. Don’t play the numbers game, play the community building game. In the long run, you’ll set yourself up for success and have a real sense of pride for an incredible accomplishment.
Charles Watson- MBA Technology Management