There has been rising skepticism when it comes to just how impactful influencer marketing campaigns can be. With influencer fraud and ‘fake followers’ dominating the headlines marketers are looking to expensive third-party analytics platforms to help them make huge spending decisions but, what happens when that data is wrong?
These analytics platforms provide marketers with the tools to discover new influencers, match them to the right brands and analyse their content post-campaign. However, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal last year Instagram made some important changes to their API where many of these platforms lost access to influencer data.
What marketers may not have cracked onto is that in order to keep their businesses afloat these platforms have had to find other, far less ethical (or legal) ways of getting influencer data. In many cases they use ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning’ to take a piece of public information like a profile picture or (once upon a time) likes and run it through a series of algorithms and facial recognition to make assumptions about an influencer’s audience and its authenticity. We’ve seen influencers with an audience that is 97% Australian shown on other platforms to only be 4%.
With many brands taking a strong stance in only using influencers with an authentic following these platforms look at irregular activity in an influencers follower growth and engagement and put them onto an influencer black-list where their chances of landing a brand collaboration become pretty slim. But what happens when that irregular activity happens as a result of something completely unrelated to Instagram? Like when @bondilifeguards show ‘Bondi Rescue’ aired on Netflix and their account grew by over 8000 - they would have landed themselves on a blacklist right at the peak of their reach and when their level of influence was growing at its fastest.
This has huge implications for influencers to earn a living too. When most of us go for a job we are able to write our own resumé and represent ourselves in a way we feel does us justice. Influencers currently have no say in the matter. Often influencers with extremely valuable audiences aren’t getting their foot in the door because these platforms are misrepresenting their audience and what they can offer, without them even knowing.
Know where you get your data from.
The reason we trust television, print and digital so much is because marketers can make informed business decisions by accessing transparent insights shared from the source like readership, viewability and circulation. When it comes to social media platforms like Instagram, the data that’s being used is anything but direct or transparent.
The only way to get your hands on accurate data is directly from the influencer through free, independent platforms like Q-83 where influencers opt in to share in-depth, real-time insights on their audience demographics and reach.
As Instagram tightens their grip on which data they make available to the public, for example their recent decisions to hide the visibility of likes, platforms lose one of the last integral pieces of information they use to help make their assumptions so using them as a basis for spending decisions is becoming riskier and riskier.
Just like traditional forms of advertising where these metrics are expected to be transparently shared with brands before they make decisions, influencers should be no different. When evaluating an influencer, think, if they aren’t willing to share that information with you, are they really worth the investment?
About the Author
Anthony Richardson Founder and Managing Director of Q-83, the world-leading influencer metric sharing company. Anthony works closely with major publishing houses and regulation authorities across the UK and Australia.