5 ways travel brands, hospitality companies can spot a fake influencer
INFLUENCER MARKETING is such a popular strategy and has gotten so big, it’s hard to ignore.
Of course, social media influencers, as well as digital agencies, are benefiting from this.
The appeal is undeniable.
Social media influencers can bag just about anything from a wardrobe full of free clothes, shoes, and reviews, and free travels (flights and accommodation) because brands flock to influencers in hoards to help sell their products and services.
All they have to do is #sponsored and garner the needed views.
But wait, this marketing trend is not without its flaws.
Earlier this year, 22-year-old British influencer Elle Darby was publicly criticized when she reached out to The White Moose Cafe requesting for a four-night stay in exchange for video and social content.
The owner responded by posting her e-mail on social media, calling her out for lacking “self-respect and dignity”.
A back-and-forth ensued and after a series of backlash, the hotel decided to ban bloggers from its establishment altogether.
Other than breeding an entitled generation, the potential perks that social media influencers get thrown their way constantly are also encouraging scammers.
Case in point: The story of one Amanda Smith, better known by her Instagram handle, @wanderingggirl.
With 63,000 followers and an abundance of carefully curated pretty pictures in the travel photographer’s glamorous feed, she appears to be just like any life-loving influencer out there.
She’s such a jet-setter, she has even been to Bali, Indonesia.
Except that she’s a total fake. Her followers are fake too.
@wanderingggirl was created by a team at digital marketing agency Mediakix which pulled the stunt to prove how easy it was to game the system. And she’s not the only one.
She has a “friend” named Alexa Rae aka @calibeachgirl310. Also fake.
“For about $750 invested in Alexa and $350 invested in Amanda over the course of about two to three months, Mediakix created Instagram influencers worthy of receiving paid campaigns, where they could have easily overshot the amount they committed to building the accounts,” Mashable wrote.
Mediakix kept going with its experiment, this time targeting the travel and hospitality industry such as hotels and restaurants. The results were shocking.
“Not surprisingly, we were offered lots of free stays and meals by the hotels and restaurants we emailed in exchange for a post on the account. This, in spite of the fact that we had not changed the name of the account (wanderingggirl), and the global press around the original stunt read by millions around the globe, was astonishing,” Mediakix wrote.
“If you search “wanderingggirl Instagram,” all of the Google search results except for the top one are news articles about the stunt from 2017, tricking brands into offering paid sponsorships for the fake account.”
Scammers and fake influencers have reflected badly on the industry, and companies and brands are gingerly maneuvering their way around it. Some avoid it altogether.
In doubt-ridden times like these, here are some ways the travel industry can spot a fake influencer:
Google is your best friend
One of the quickest fixes is to get on your smartphone or your laptop, enter the person’s name or social media handle, and see what turns up.
Suspicious articles such as the abovementioned @wanderingggirl stories are your big, blinking, neon red warning signs.
Don’t ask for statistics, because statistics can be faked as well. Get them yourself.
Use socialblade.com, a free platform, to track numbers of followers, following, and media posted. Keep a lookout for ridiculously high or low numbers.
Check the following
Over 100,000 followers for an account that’s new-ish and with poor quality content seems too good to be true to you? Then it probably is.
Head on over to followercheck.co, a site that will help you calculate the ratio of real to fake followers.
Investigate likes and comments
This will take a little time and some math but it’s almost failproof. Go to the influencer’s social media platform and check out his/her engagement rate.
It makes no sense if the account has 100,000 followers but only 100 likes per photo, or 500 likes but not a single comment. Spammy comments are telltale signs of bot activity too.
Created with brand marketers in mind, FOHR is an influencer platform that provides transparency to identify fake followers and prevent fraud on Instagram.
Does your influencer have a FOHR verification? Check out what a verified profile on FOHR looks like.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com