Are There Fake Instagram Followers, (too)?

Are There Fake Instagram Followers, (too)?

In short, of course you can buy followers on Instagram–this is America!

You may have read the NYTimes article on The Follower Factory – essentially celebrities and jumbo social influencers are buying followers and retweets for Twitter. When brands pay influencers with fake followers, it’s like when the server pours you half a glass of red wine and charges you full price. Except in this case, you can’t see that the glass is half full of cheap wine instead of a big silky and dusty Napa cab.

Although only Twitter was used, it is a valid concern for other platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. And I can say unequivocally that there are influencers who are getting paid by brands who bought followers. I know, because we vet them and look at their audiences.

Related: Spot Fake Influencers (for free)

Instagram is Enabling Fake Followers

Instagram is not Twitter. Twitter allows nearly total access to its data either through a simple web browser or an automated process known as an API. Instagram and Facebook allow almost no access into their data from an outside party. So companies like Mattr have to use a combination of sophisticated software and brute force to dig deep into an influencer’s data on Instagram or Facebook. Twitter has a Waffle House API – always open, full of cheap data best consumed drunk. Sure it’s easier to program bots and buy followers, but it’s also quick work to uncover them.

Not everyone has access to mega servers and great software. And sifting through influencers manually is not really an option when you have more than a few in a campaign. This means there are hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on Instagram influencers each year because of this restricted access. Are Instagram and Facebook motivated to remove eyeballs from their platform? Of course not! This is America!

Related: How to Get More Influencer Engagement for Your Money

Yes, You Can Buy Followers on Instagram

Do a search – it’s nearly as effortless as buying them for Twitter and you can also buy Likes, which ups everyone’s game as the industry shifts from impressions to engagement. For research, I created a new Instagram account for the sole purpose of buying followers and chronicling the process for you.

Check back weekly to see how George the Cat Cop’s audience grows, and we’ll do the deep dive on the data to see exactly who is liking his posts.

 

 

About MATTR

MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.

What Influencers Wish Brands Knew

What Influencers Wish Brands Knew

If these last couple years have taught us anything, it’s that influencer marketing is here to stay. It is no longer just a fad that a few brave brands dabble in during the holiday season. Marketers everywhere are taking influencer marketing seriously and learning how to build relationships that will help them create long term success in it. A critical part of this success comes from creating a good relationship between the brand and the influencers that represent them.

Because of the “middlemen” in campaigns, often times brands and influencers go the entire campaign without direct communication. So we decided to chat with one of our favorite influencers to give brands and agencies a look at what influencer marketing is like from their point of view.

Jennifer Worman, a Chicago based influencer, is the face behind the Instagram account RedSolesAndRedWine,where she has garnered over 174k followers, and is the CEO of TandJDesigns. One of the many reasons for her success is because of the variety of content she shares with her audience. She is a fashion and beauty influencer, but also posts engaging content about lifestyle, travel, home decor, and motherhood. Her diverse post topics makes her a great influencer for a variety of different brands.

At Mattr, we have been lucky enough to work with Jennifer on multiple campaigns. Here are some questions we asked to get a better idea of what these partnerships are like from her point of view:

 

See them as a business; not just a social profile.

What’s the most important thing is to consider when deciding to work with a new brand? Jennifer told us she loves to work with brands and products that she truly loves and that fit in with her life and her brand. “To me that is #1 as I truly showcase what I love and what may be useful to my friends on my blog and social media.  The next thing would be if it is I can achieve what the client wants.  I definitely see my sharing as a business as well so I always want to make sure my work is the best.”

Communicate Promptly and Often.

When asked about the most frustrating thing a brand can do during a campaign, Jennifer told us “demanding things without much notice and lack of response when I have questions.” Constant communication with influencers is huge. Often times, the details and demands of a campaign can change daily. It is important to be transparent and keep the influencers in the loop to what is going on.

Appreciate the Time and Cost They Put Into the Campaign.

“I love working with brands that understand the time and cost I put in and are detailed with the goals of the project. That way I fulfill their goals and we both walk away happy.” Jennifer said she loves to fulfill their goals and for her and the brand to always walk away happy. When a brand can show appreciation for what the influencer does for them, it makes for a better experience and more reasons for an influencer to seek a longer partnership.

They Love Long Term Relationships.

Influencers have shown to get more engagement when they post about a product more than once. Why? Because their audience knows this is a product they must truly love and believe in. This is a win-win for the brand and the influencer. Jennifer told us working with products she loves continuously is her favorite thing. “I love to pitch more long term plans as well as I find sharing things a few times gets the best reach, brands that want to create that partnership are the best.”

Be Patient – It’s a Longer Process Than You Think.

There are always common misconceptions about bloggers and influencers. But brands would be surprised to know how much work goes into the content they create for you. “In general, each photo setup depending on product or service takes longer than they think, and for every one photo we share there are 100 others that weren’t acceptable.”

No Need for Bonuses.

There is always talk about influencers and getting free stuff. Should they be given extra incentives? Will this make them want do better on a campaign? But Jennifer assured that the right influencer should do their best on any campaign they sign up for. “I don’t believe in signing up for work if you can’t do it 110%.”

Try and Let Them Have Some Creative Control.

This is always a tug-of-war during a campaign. Should the brand take control, write the captions, dictate the image? Or should they let go and let the influencer handle it? It is a risk, but it will get better engagement if it feels real. “I would prefer to have creative control as I know my friends on social  (not a big fan of saying followers 😉 and what works on my blog and Instagram is what made me successful….one of my favorite parts about campaigns is coming up with the image and styling of it.”

 

As Jennifer points out, it is important for the brands and agencies to understand the work influencers put into creating content and the careful consideration they take when deciding to work with a new brand. Of course, as Jennifer mentioned, every influencer is different. For instance, working with a macro-level influencer who depends on this as their way of living will most likely be a different experience than working with a micro-level college student who creates content as a hobby. But they all have something you are looking for, an engaged audience. Happy influencers who know what is expected and feel appreciated by their brand partners are a recipe for great content, which in turn produces a happy brand. When that happens you’re guaranteed the start of a lasting relationship!

 

About MATTR

MATTR is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.

The Wackiest Influencer Predictions for 2018

The Wackiest Influencer Predictions for 2018

Prediction time is sadly predictable. But listening to the 2018 predictions by my favorite Trekkie nerds at The Skeptics Guide to the Universe gave me an idea on how best to lay out my predictions for the influencer industry in 2018.

Most predictions are one way or the other: gimmes – high probability trending events – or whackjob, conspiracy theory stuff like, “The advancements of medicine will raise humans’ life expectancy up to at least 200 years of age.” The former is boring but could be informative while the latter is amusing and sometimes thought-provoking. Both can lead you to either worry and play out some “what if” situations.

Let’s do both.

Gimmes

At Mattr we interact with all sides of an influencer transaction. The brand, the agency, the platform, and the influencer. The fact that we are data-driven means we peek through the blinds like the kindly retiree who keeps an eye on those kids playing in the street where you live. But we’re not the grumpy busybodies, honest.

 

Prediction 1: Influencer will Remain #1 Growth in Marketing Budget

Worldwide, brands should spend just under $5 billion on Influencer marketing in 2018. Spend has doubled each year since 2014. It’s so common now that even my parents know what I do for work. Digital spend continues to increase alongside the economy but, at a hefty $70 billion, has long since seen a hockey stick growth curve. Instagram will continue to be the platform of choice. Nothing wacky about that (yet).

 

Prediction 2: Brand Attorneys are Rubbing the Sleep from Their Eyes

Some 80% of influencer posts are still unmarked with the FTC’s requisite #ad or #sponsored tag. In-house attorneys are paid for one thing: to reduce their company’s exposure to liability of any kind. Counter-Strike Global Offensive popped positive to the FTC and had their hands slapped. The FTC’s most recent guidance is here, btw. Celebrity influencers and their brand partners are hit with penalties but it’s a cost of business to the influencer, who can afford it. It hardly matters to the brand’s enterprise as the penalties aren’t worth a tug on the sleeve and whisper in the ear of the CEO.

But delicately put, whenever there’s an ass shining brightly in the cold breeze it herewith shall be covered. Global Offensive’s in-house attorneys failed. This means trouble for companies like Mattr and our partners on the brand teams and agencies. It will delay deals as contracts are examined for who assumes the liability if the influencer forgets to add the #ad in their next post.

For the influencer, it means dweebs like us will use clever Google-like tools to ensure all their recent sponsored posts have the disclosure and that it isn’t deleted an hour after posting. Which means influencers may lose a project without even knowing why. Because our clients expect it.

 

Prediction 3: Non-Competes Become a Thing

Big established brands are rightly defensive and rely on the loyalty of their consumers. When Coke hires a group of influencers to feature a frosty Coke in their Instagram, they are influencing literally millions of consumers. If a lifelong Coke drinker sees their favorite Instagram accounts start posting with a Pepsi, they’re eventually going to snatch one from the cooler at the grocery store as they check out. Just to feel like that influencer. To close their eyes and place themselves in that beautiful scene they double-tapped. Love.

With under 50% of consumers trusting what a brand tells them (and only 4-6% of Millennials and Gen Zs), no possible amount of Pepsi advertising could tempt a Coke drinker to try Pepsi.

Non-competes mean legal departments will hold agencies and service companies like Mattr accountable for breaches. Will influencers get a bill for their fee six months after it’s been paid? Unlikely. What is certain is that that influencer will have an unattractive icon on their avatar on influencer platforms worldwide. They’ll still be able to do deals that don’t require a non-compete, but if there’s an alternative, they just won’t be picked.

 

Prediction 4: Influencers With Fake Followers Are Exposed

Because brands are looking more for engagement than impressions (another trend we’re seeing), the composition of an influencer’s audience is being scrutinized. And the algorithms which determine whether they’ve bought followers are now insanely accurate. Brands and agencies who work with more data-driven companies know this and do not expect to see any significant percentage of an audience living in Colombia, Ukraine, or Brazil. Again, these corner-cutting influencers just get ignored. We don’t take the time to reach out and say, “hey, if you just removed all those bought followers, we’d hire you.”  (We almost surely wouldn’t anyway). And by the way, have you ever tried to remove a bunch of followers? Impossible

 

Prediction 5: Brands Are In-Sourcing Influencer Marketing

In-sourcing is the most visited section of our website. It’s inevitable, really, if you look at other formerly-outsourced services. Radio, TV, Email, and Digital were fully outsourced at one time. Now brands have scores of data scientists to analyze every Facebook ad campaign. As the spend goes up, CFOs start noticing the amount being spent and wonder if they could do it cheaper if they brought it in-house. It will be a slow burn, of course, because Influencer requires a complex architecture to succeed. But it will come.

 

The Wacky

Since we can claim status as “old hats” in Influencer, we’ve seen it all. None of these predictions would really surprise me but the probability of any of them happening is why they’re at the bottom of the list. Go out and run a hard mile, or have a glass of red, or pop a baby aspirin – whatever you need to calm yourself.

 

Prediction 6: Facebook and Instagram Banish #Ad Posts and Influencers

Facebook has a history of shutting down lines of business who make money from their platforms without paying. More realistic will be offering boosted Instagram posts to non-brands, which would monkey things up a good bit. It’s hard to understand why they’re not doing this now.

 

      

Prediction 7: France Will Overtake the US as #1 Influencer Market

No one really knows what the spend is in France for influencer, but its presence is bigger than Napoleon’s ego or Macron’s monthly stylist budget. Just go to trending videos in YouTube and see over half in french.

 

Prediction 8: Facebook and Instagram Will Adopt a YouTube Approach to Paying Influencers

YouTube influencers rely on the micro-transaction fees they earn from the platform. It’s a mutual reliance, really, as YouTube needs the views for the ad revenue. Facebook is stubbornly holding out, though, and with their latest announcement reducing brand views, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other changes to their algorithms. Now if V2 (Vine 2) walks back into the social room, as reported by Dom, this might just happen.

There you have it: eight predictions, five of which have a decent chance of happening. The last three? Who knows? But they’re fun to worry about!