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Sourcing Influencers: The Fight for Authentic Content

Sourcing Influencers: The Fight for Authentic Content

Awww man, are we in a pickle.

Once upon a time, influencer marketing was based on organic content that gained traction on social media platforms, building followings for bloggers and social media powerhouses over time.

Then the algorithm experts and greedy social media platform overlords realized that these folks were profiting off the products and brands they shared with their willing audience. It became harder for the influencers to get their content seen or get any organic engagement until…

Workarounds were discovered, nefarious practices sprung up around the world with bots running wild, comment pods, and loop giveaways. The world of fake news and even faker online entities came screaming out of the Ukraine, Philippines, and beyond. Suddenly, follower inflation was everywhere — not to mention an endless influencer loop of ‘you like mine and I’ll like yours’. According to Social Media Today, 142 million fake profiles exist between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram alone.

These practices allowed influencers who were getting punished by the platforms to gain the “oomph” they needed to float their content higher in the newsfeed — ultimately to keep performing at the increasing levels that brand’s desired.

We ALL — the platforms, the brands, the agencies, and the influencers — created this monster, and it’s time we start digging ourselves out of this hole we created in the fight for bigger share of voice and pay to play content. 

Together, we can fight our mutual enemy: inauthenticity.

But, there’s a bit of good news: the tech is finally here. Reporting software platforms like CreatorIQ and vetting platforms like Instascreener have come on the scene with an algorithm that compares and monitors all of these instances, including foreign language commentary, carbon copy comments from singular-users, and insane spikes in the number of followers. So, let’s make like UNILEVER and start taking these f*ckers down, right?

While we’d love to wave a magic wand and say there is no room for gray in this frighteningly polarized black-and-white world — let’s all take a breath, people. 

The influencers we’re waving our pitchforks at helped build our business. 

Sure, the horses are out of the barn, but we’re ready to get our freakin’ lassos and get ‘em back in the barn — not shoot the horses.

First of all, no fake followers is a rarity when you are a public account (which most influencers are). Fact is, if an influencer has 500,000 followers and half of those are fake, that’s still 250,000 real followers. From what we’ve gathered in working with Instascreener, fewer than 10% fake followers is ideal.

We decided this is a problem that deserves some serious thought. How do we ensure our brands are paying for an audience size and engagement that’s authentic, and how do we make sure that influencers see the benefit in living life authentically, too? Certainly not by telling them “we think you are a fraud and you should be ashamed in trying to make a living for your family”. We view this issue as one of ensuring quality and getting-what-you-pay-for (accurate reach and engagement) for our brands.

It’s time for a new method for sourcing influencers.

We have determined a vetting process that rates influencers based on a set of 6 criteria, the average of which determines whether we present them to client. We are rating them on the percentage of fake followers, the audience size (not including the fakes), and the authentic engagement rate – all metrics we obtain through the use of our tools – both CreatorIQ and Instascreener. Then we move on to subjects that are determined by a human touch, like quality of writing/images and the value (price for the deliverable). If we have worked with the influencer through our network, Everywhere Society, we also rate them on how easy they are to work with and their dependability (for example, completing the required deliverables on time).

We think this vetting process will help us select the best influencers possible for campaigns, and we will continue to educate our influencers on how to best represent our brands: with authenticity and results.

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