How We Protect Clients from Fake Followers
With the recent New York Times article, The Follower Factory, shedding light on the truth behind social media fraud, it is our duty as leaders in the PR industry to weigh in with our expertise on the threat of fake followers for brand partners.
Companies like Devumi, mentioned in the article, are lurking the web as a quick and convenient resource for social media influencers to tap into to show their “worth”. Celebrities, athletes, politicians and musicians are among those taking advantage of being able to grow their social media followings by simply purchasing hundreds to tens of thousands of followers. The result is an inauthentic social media following that may appear large, but partially consists of “bots” or fake followers that have been created, using someone’s real information, photo, profiles, etc., to appear legitimate.
Purchasing bots is a practice that has existed for years and has grown in popularity as digital brand/influencer partnerships have increased. Many of the programs that we execute for our clients involve working closely with influencers so we are well practiced at protecting against “fake” influence. Our team has a number of approaches to ensure that the partners we choose are not only a relevant fit for the brands that we represent but are also valid and authentic.
Research and Vetting
The research and vetting process is something that we take very seriously. We understand the risk involved in aligning your brand with a certain person’s identity. We work vigorously and monitor engagement to find unique influencers that are a fit for our brands and have a strong and real following. Although this process is very time consuming, there is no substitute for simply doing the legwork to verify that the numbers and true engagement are in alignment so we can flag illegitimate followers and bots.
We have said it before and we will say it again, the impact that micro-influencers (influencers with 1-100K followers) have on a brand can often be much more genuine than an A-list or macro-influencer can offer. You can read about why we love working with micro influencers here, but aside from the facts and stats behind the success of micro-influencer posts, the nature of their smaller followings greatly reduces the risk for fraudulent behavior. Our micro-influencer partners are proven to have loyal followings that were organically built from the ground up—not purchased.
Proof of (Not) Purchase
Our team utilizes a number of industry tools to verify the authenticity of our influencer partners. These tools are particularly important when we partner with top celebrities or A-list influencers to ensure a program’s ROI. We ask a lot of our partners to maximize our clients’ investments and aren’t afraid to dig deep and ask hard questions so we can be certain that our content will be shared with real people, not bots.
The digital landscape is constantly evolving, so 3rd Coast is committed to staying on top of the scams that lurk the Internet and pose a risk to the brands that we represent. Being aware that fake followers and bots exist not only allows us to be hyperaware of how influencers function, but it also helps our team become stronger advocates for our clients and better stewards of where budgets are being spent and with whom we choose to align our messages.
If you ever have questions or concerns regarding a specific influencer and their authenticity, please feel free to reach out to our team so that we can help to further investigate at firstname.lastname@example.org.