A recent exposé in The New York Times found that one company has created over 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold multiple times, providing its customers with an excess of 200 million followers on Twitter. Additionally, Facebook recently disclosed to investors that it had up to 60 million automated users, at least twice as many fake accounts than estimated in the past.

Influencer marketing fraud is a serious issue that requires advanced technology to identify and eliminate fraud while ensuring the utmost of brand safety.

Separating the Real from the Fake: How to Identify Authentic Influencers

So how can you tell if the individuals you’re working with are authentic influencers with real, interested audiences? There are three simple ways to separate real influencers from those who have paid to build their followings.

  1. Engagement to Follower Ratio: One of the telltale signs of a fake influencer is an extremely low engagement to follower ratio. If an influencer has 50K followers, but routinely only gets a couple hundred likes and a handful of comments, its highly likely majority of the audience is fraudulent. For reference, the average engagement rates on Instagram and Facebook are 1.66% and 0.17%, respectively.
  2. Authentic Captions/Posts: Real influencers talk about real feelings and experiences so take a closer look at the influencers’ captions and posts. If they regularly post generic, single sentence captions like, “My favorite drink ever!” or constantly retweet/share messages that don’t match their aesthetic, pass on the partnership. Authentic influencers love sharing deeper messages that truly engage their audiences.
  3. Engagement Quality: Vague, generic comments are another sign of fraudulent social activity. Drill down into the influencer’s comments and analyze the quality of their comments. Ambiguous comments that could apply to anything, like “This is great!” or “Wonderful!”, are a red flag. Real audiences have a genuine interest and often ask questions or advice, use the influencer’s name, or tell a story of their own. 

Finally, marketers need to fundamentally change how they identify influencers and measure their success. 77% of marketers today use “Reach,” or number of followers as a primary metric for determining which influencers to work with. This artificially inflates the value of this metric and is partially to blame for the proliferation of fraudulent influencer marketing companies. As the only performance-based influencer marketing technology company in the market, Linqia anchors on driving consumers further down the funnel, delivering guaranteed business results throughout the path to purchase.

Influencer Marketing Fraud Prevention Is Built Into Everything We Do

At Linqia, influencer marketing fraud prevention is natively built into our business model:

  • We partner with micro-influencers – value and investment is based on influencers who drive real results, not influencers with the largest reach.
  • Influencers are required to have a blog in order to participate in a Linqia program – not only do bloggers create amazing long form content, they also have significantly less incentive to inflate reach.
  • Influencers are required to regularly post and demonstrate engagement across at least 2 social platforms – this mitigates the potential for fraud as performance across multiple platforms is evaluated when selecting influencers.
  • We are the only influencer marketing company with a pay-for-performance model – we have to be transparent and accountable in order to deliver guaranteed results.

From a technology perspective, the Linqia Performance Platform includes features to automatically detect and prevent fraud, verify the legitimacy of influencers, and mitigate the impact of click circles:

  • Linqia monitors engagement rates, click rates, comment sentiment, like-to-comment ratios, and follower growth patterns to verify that Linqia influencers are real people with real audiences.
  • Linqia mitigates the impact of bots using IP blacklists and flood control, click capping, and multiple metric evaluations to filter out fraud.
  • Linqia monitors public forums and influencer groups to detect when influencers are soliciting engagement. If caught, the influencer is removed from the program and not compensated.
  • Linqia Performance Platform detects and excludes click fraud from reporting. Our click counts are 50% more conservative than industry standards such as DFA, FlashTalking, and Sizmek.

We invite you to see the fraud-free difference for yourself. Take the Linqia challenge and benchmark our performance-based methodology against your current influencer marketing provider to discover what real influencers with guaranteed results can deliver for your business. What do you have to lose? Contact our sales team today.

Featured image by Heather Bien