3 min read

5 red flags to look for when working with influencers

Head to any social media platform and influencers are out in full force, promoting products and showcasing their PR hauls. Influencer marketing has its place, but given that 63% of marketers have had an experience involving fake influencers, you need to be careful. To help you separate the good from the bad, here are five red flags to watch out for when working with influencers.


1. They have a tonne of followers but engagement is low

You can usually tell whether an influencer’s following is authentic by checking out the engagement rates on their posts. If they have hundreds of thousands of followers, but barely any comments or other engagement on their posts, they might not be what they seem. Calculate the engagement rate across their last 6 posts, and check out some of their followers accounts - do they seem legitimate?

Although it’s frowned upon, some questionable influencers will actually purchase thousands of false followers to boost their count - but these ‘followers’ won’t be able to engage with the posts. In fact, over 60% of Instagram influencers have admitted to using artificial follower growth strategies, and there are even websites dedicated to selling ‘bots’ or fake social media followers.


2. They aren’t using proper disclosure

In September 2020, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in New Zealand released new official guidelines for social media influencers, namely around how they advertise products. These guidelines were created in a bid to encourage transparency from influencers who are posting sponsored content to prevent them from misleading the everyday consumer.  

The ASA have said that all ad content must be easily identifiable by consumers at their first interaction with the content; consumers must be able to tell when an influencer is posting ad content in order to make an informed decision about the products or services being advertised.

If an influencer is not clearly disclosing that their post is an ad by using paid partnership tools on their social channel, or including the labels ‘ad’, ‘advert’, or ‘Advertisement’, stay well away. Hiding the disclosure at the end of the caption, or blending the text to match the colour of the story isn’t good enough because it’s not allowing enough transparency for the audience.

 3. Their profile is full of sponsored posts

Whilst you might think that it’s common for an influencer’s profile to consist of sponsored post after sponsored post, this isn’t necessarily what you want to see when looking for someone to work with. A professional influencer won’t just be promoting every product or service that comes their way - they’ll be choosy with their time and content creation efforts.

If you’re looking for authenticity in your sponsored content, you’re better to choose a selective influencer who aligns well with your brand. For example, if you’re selling a health and wellness product, you might like to reach out to popular sports figures who specialise in this kind of product.


 4. They don’t have enough content

On the other side of the coin, if the influencer you’re looking into has tonnes of followers but doesn’t seem to have many posts, this could be a big red flag - if they aren’t posting much, how have they amassed that many followers?

Influencers don’t need to be posting every day to be authentic, but true professionals who take their role as an influencer seriously will have a regular content schedule that consists of sponsored posts as well as general posts about their lives and activities.


5. They’re inexperienced

If your budget is pretty tight, you might think that reaching out to a less experienced influencer is the way to go - but it could be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Every person and their dog (literally) wants to be an influencer, but there’s a whole lot of effort that needs to be put in behind the scenes to make it work.

It’s been estimated that up to 50% of sponsored content engagement is fake, so to protect yourself from throwing your money down the drain, it’s important that the right paperwork and expectations are agreed upon from the beginning. Experienced, serious influencers will be well-versed in this, and they’ll be able to walk you through how they plan to get authentic engagement for their post. They’ll also be savvy with any usage rights or filming consent.

If it all seems a bit too complicated, and you don’t have time to find the right influencer for the job, don’t stress. Influencers are not the be all and end all of your marketing success. Because 90% of people trust suggestions from family and friends, your existing customers are actually your best salespeople. Try out a referral campaign, or ask for reviews and testimonials to build your social proof. And if you need a hand, we’re always here to help!

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