How Brands Can Fight Fake Social Media Followers

Jonathan Gardner

The recent explosive New York Times exposé, “The Follower Factory,” has brands frantically trying to determine if the influencers they work with are on the level or are faking it with their follower counts. Concerns about fraud and the true ROI of influencer campaigns are huge issues for marketers but the reality is that most brands aren’t taking basic steps to protect themselves.

The Times’ investigation of the prevalence of fake Twitter accounts and fake followers used by “influencers” means that any marketer needs to be extremely cautious about who they retain to help communicate their messages on social media. The challenge, as highlighted in the story, is that brands working with influencers may have no idea whether they have genuine fans and followers or if they have simply paid to make it look like they do.

ShareIQ works with brands to give them the insights and analytics to understand what benefit they are getting from their influencer marketing campaigns. Our software takes marketers way beyond the superficial follower counts and gives them the full picture of their earned media, influencer marketing and social media programs, not just on Twitter but across social networks and the web.

At the core of our platform is access to the insights, data and analytics that show a brand how audiences engage with visual content on social. Any brand that wants to get their content shared and engaged with needs to get sophisticated about how that content is being seeded and shared by audience members who have influence and can create engagement and virality. Marketers have been questioning the value of high-paid celebrity influencers and want to identify sharers who really create authentic engagement with brand content.

This fall, we launched a series of enhancements to the Influencer Tools section of our software. As the top tech site ZDNet reported, ShareIQ’s “comprehensive dashboard delivers insights” and “gives marketers a real-time view of what is being shared, where and by whom. Brands that want to get their content shared and engaged will need to get sophisticated about how it is being shared by audience members who have influence and can create engagement and create viral content.”

The brands we work with know that they must shift their focus from follower count to ratio of engagement. Research has shown that influencers who get the best engagement typically have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers: they've built their audiences organically, and there's a natural connection between the brands they're endorsing themselves and their audience.

And, it's not just numbers of posts, number of likes, or number of impressions, but it's also how the content is being shared, what type of engagement influencers create not only from themselves, but downstream with their followers. Some of these micro-influencers drive really strong second-degree and third-degree engagements in a way that some celebrity influencers do not.

As our CEO, Brian Killen, said recently, our platform allows marketers to see how their content performs, and which influencer drive more earned media value. We now offer an incredible proposition for brands to make their earned media as measurable as their paid media campaigns. It’s clear that in 2018, brands face challenges from all directions, but by working with us they can ensure they don’t also get ripped off by influencers with fake followers.

Have a look at how we helped a top CPG brand get real social media ROI

Concerns about fraud and the true ROI of influencer campaigns are huge issues for marketers but the reality is that most brands aren’t taking basic steps to protect themselves
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.