There has been a rise in Influencer Fraud Traps cases by social media influencers. Nothing has improved with the proliferation of bots, fake profiles, and false claims.
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What is Influencer Fraud?
If you’re reading this, you’re already aware that influencers are people with large followings who have built trust and credibility in the eyes of their followers. Other brands may have previously collaborated with them to reach their target audience.
However, as influencer marketing has grown in popularity, so has influencer fraud. The most common type of Influencer Fraud Traps involves fake accounts impersonating real people or businesses with large followers. These bogus accounts will then post product or service endorsements without disclosing any affiliation with the brand behind the endorsed product or service.
3 Types of Influencer Fraud That Are Most Common
Fake followers, taking your money without delivering results, and posing as an influencer to break the law are the three primary forms of Influencer Fraud Traps.
1. Influencers who artificially inflate their follower count
Here, an influencer artificially inflates their follower count by purchasing fake social media accounts. Some influential people use bot accounts, which are automated profiles run by software. The influencer’s bot account can interact with other accounts by liking posts, commenting, and even following them. This gives the impression that the influencer’s engagement rate is higher than it is. This gives the impression that they have more clout and support than they do.
Influencers’ use of pods is yet another trick to give the impression of widespread participation when very few people are participating. Groups of influential people who have formed a supportive network by bumping each other’s content are called “pods.”
If everyone in a pod of one hundred people likes and comments on a particular post, that post may end up on Instagram’s Explore page. They make sponsors and brands believe the influencer has a larger and more active fan base than they do. Unfortunately, they don’t see the error until after the fact. Still, social media platforms like Facebook actively seek out such communities to ban them.
2. Accepting your money/products but failing to deliver results
Or, ask a YouTube personality to do a review of your product on their channel. However, they only provide real product information and post a short, positive video. Anyone can fall victim to these Influencer Fraud Traps because it is difficult to detect before doing business with the perpetrator.
Even Snapchat was not immune to the problem. Snapchat filed a lawsuit against influencer Luka Sabbat for breach of contract for failing to promote the specified products (eyeglasses). The 20-year-old blogger was supposed to crank out more content and sport the specs at a specific event, but she flat-out refused to do either.
3. People pranking influencers in order to violate the law
Someone could pose as an influential person to promote counterfeit goods.
Heavily Influential Logan There are rumors that Paul faked being colorblind to promote a pair of glasses that supposedly corrected the problem. Finally, he admitted his mistake.
A fraudster may also impersonate an influencer in order to gain access to premium services and/or products at no cost to themselves. To some extent, it’s a cultish attempt at fame.
Remember fake giveaways, too.
Bogus influencers often entice their audience to follow them and share their content by offering freebies of some kind. People never win anything, and there is never a giveaway.
This differs from the content you want to be associated with your company.
Preventing Influencer Fraud: What to Look For
1. Large Following, Low Engagement
Instagram engagement averages 1.94% but can reach 5%. The platform and influencer determine this rate. TikTok nano-influencers engage at 12.43% and micro-influencers at 13.33%. An influencer with a huge following but low engagement may have bought bot accounts or joined a pod. Check the quality of their comments too.
2. Sudden Spikes in Followers
Influencers who see a sudden increase in their followers are likely purchasing fake accounts. That’s possible to understand, especially if the rise in new followers is significant relative to the brand’s typical expansion rate.
Suppose a typical influencer adds between 500 and 1,000 new followers annually. A red flag would be raised if they unexpectedly gained 1,000 new followers on a Wednesday night.
3. Spam Pods on Instagram
Because pods are private communities, it can be difficult to tell if a given influencer is a part of one or not. If you notice the same people commenting on each other’s posts frequently, that’s a red flag. These comments all look the same; they all use the same handful of exclamation points and emojis.
OMG!!! And numerous heart and fire emojis are two examples of meaningless expressions. These are full examples of Influencer Fraud Traps.
4. Unrelated comments
These seemingly unrelated remarks are made:
Saying something like, “I just subscribed to your channel!”
As a rule, these remarks are posted by paid commenters, pod members, or bot accounts. Real comments, on the other hand, have a backstory. Genuine viewers reveal personal details, pose pertinent questions, and make insightful observations about the show they’re watching.
5. Images Taken From Stock
When influencers use stock photos, it’s a warning sign that they’re uncomfortable being themselves in front of the camera. They are trying to hide something and present a false front, obviously.
The credibility they bring to your project is one of the main benefits of collaborating with influencers. Engaging with people and getting them to take their advice requires authenticity.
In other words, you will be wasting your time and money if an influencer claims to be someone they are not.
Do a reverse image search on Google to check if an image is a stock photo. Easy, use Google Images and select the camera icon. The next step is to upload the image in question and check its availability online.
6. Promotional Content, Little Value
Warning signs include excessively promotional content, which suggests the influencer is only interested in making money for themselves. They care little about what their followers think or need. This will not provide helpful hints, suggestions, or advice. Their sole concern is making a profit.
If this is bothering you, why?
Even if they write something about your brand, it will be similarly low quality to the rest of the products they promote.
In the worst case, your brand’s reputation will take a hit, and consumers will be wary of buying from you for some time.
7. Deals that appear to be too good to be true
One of the most common tactics used by scammers to contact brands is the “direct message to collaborate” (or “DM to collab”) scheme. They only care about getting free stuff, but they’ll pretend to promote your product or brand for you.
A cursory examination of their account will reveal that it has very few followers and even less engagement, even if it appears to be genuine at first glance. They are only interested in receiving favors from you.
5 Ways to Prevent Influencer Fraud in the Future
Recognizing Influencer Fraud Traps and working with reputable allies are your best defenses. Let’s check out how well you can pull that off.
1. Do proper Research
Doing homework is essential to avoid falling victim to an influencer’s scam.
Examine the influencer’s engagement rates and content for any red flags before collaborating with them. Check out their profile, research their photos, and see how they communicate with their audience. You can research them in detail by reading reviews or getting feedback from other online business owners.
2. Make Use Of Web-Based Tools To Monitor The Actions Of Influencers
Tools such as fake profile detectors, engagement rate calculators, and social media monitoring services are available online to monitor influencer activity.
These instruments will highlight low engagement rates and unexpected increases in followers or likes. Certain programs may also display low-quality comments.
3. Get Involved With a Professional Organization
If you want to ensure the influencers you work with are trustworthy, an influencer marketing agency may be your best bet.
In addition, they have a staff of experts who can guide you in selecting an influencer most appropriate for your brand’s particular audience and objectives.
4. Find Opinion Leaders by Using Trusted Search Engines
These indexes are, in reality, enormous databases containing verified profiles of influential people. You can find authors on them by searching for them with specific keywords or applying filters related to a specific field.
If you use one of these tools, you can see the typical interaction rate for each influencer and make an informed decision about who to hire as brand spokespeople.
5. Create detailed contracts and pay the results
A written contract outlining the terms of your collaboration with an influencer should be signed before any work begins.
The promotion length, the price you are willing to pay, and the type of content you expect should all be outlined in this contract. A helpful piece of advice is to wait to pay your influencer until you have seen results.
Wrapping It Up
Many businesses, especially those not accustomed to collaborating with content creators, have to deal with the issue of Influencer Fraud Traps. Do your homework, make use of online tools to track influencer behavior, and work with an agency to avoid being taken in by scammers. To safeguard yourself from Influencer Fraud Traps, you should have everything put in writing and avoid receiving payment in advance.