Last year, Mediakix reported that the online influencer marketing industry is going to be worth $5-$10 billion by 2020. For perspective, Google’s ad revenue for 2017 was $93 billion. Influencers have gained quite a lot of steam, but their campaigns are difficult to measure.

Influencer Marketing coming under scrutiny

The FTC and law enforcement agencies are watching this new market very closely. Online influencers have come under the spotlight for the wrong reasons lately. It has become commonplace for some so-called influencers to buy fake social media followers and thereby outrightly deceiving businesses to pay them for preaching to empty pews.

Advertisers lose an estimated $100 million each year to fake influencers. Influencers do not usually comply with FTC guidelines when promoting sponsored products and services. A lot of them do not even make disclosures that they are posting paid content. That’s illegal.

Big gaffes, not so funny

Famous internet personalities have landed in hot soup with the Twitter Police for silly mistakes made while posting sponsored content. Marques Brownlee dropped a bombshell when he caught and called out Gal Gadot for tweeting from an iPhone while promoting a Huawei device. Several other influencers have been singled out for making the same mistake. So the question is, can online influencers be trusted? Are their opinions believable when they are mostly just in it for the money?

When you build your first app, you’ll probably ask yourself the same questions as you figure out how to promote it. It’s not uncommon that most first time developers will not have enough money for a standard paid advertising launch campaign. The idea of a viral post by an influencer for a smaller fraction of the cost is very appealing.

Genuine influencers with large followings are expensive and have their content calendars filled up way ahead of time. As a result, you’re left to pick from a pool of unverified, unknown influencers who may be outright fakes. We wrote an in-depth blog about how you can rightly promote your app. Take some time to read it.

New York Attorney General’s ruling

The New York Attorney General’s office released a statement last month about a settlement agreed to with Devumi. Attorney General Letitia James announced the precedent-setting settlement that stemmed from illegal activity by Devumi LLC and related companies (“Devumi”).

Devumi LLC and related companies (“Devumi”) were under investigation for the sale of fake followers, “likes,” and views on social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube, using fake activity from false accounts. This is the first time a law enforcement agency has ruled the selling of fake social media engagement and using stolen identities for online activity as illegal. It’s just a matter of time before similar crackdowns start happening worldwide.

What the settlement does not address is the fate of those who buy these fake followers. Many companies sell social media likes, follows and app reviews. Will the crackdown be extended to their customers? There are very good chances that might just happen. It’d be worse if you knowingly purchased fake followers. Better be safe than sorry.

Policing the internet

Policing the internet is an extremely difficult job, but one that becomes easier each year as technologies evolve to meet the new challenges. The blockchain revolution is promising to render identity theft and fake online accounts as distant memories of the early 21st Century. As the internet is now easily the most important global marketplace, we owe it to ourselves to ensure its safe and transparent.

Should you work with an online influencer?

There are times when working with an online influencer is very beneficial. Governments and businesses worldwide work with influencers to help promote their organizations. The United Nations, for example, has ambassadors for peace, sanitation and a host of other issues they feel strongly about. Likewise, businesses have brand ambassadors to promote their products.

The big difference between them and most small businesses, however, is that they vet their prospective influencers thoroughly. Another difference is that they have a long term plan to work with these people. These are not one-time transactions for mere shoutouts or paid name dropping. There is serious planning that goes into these campaigns.

So if you are thinking of working with an influencer, you might want to think of more than just a shoutout. Remember, being salesy might ruin your brand. Engage your audience meaningfully and they will follow you willingly.

How to identify genuine influencers with real followers

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing industry is going to be worth $5-$10 billion by 2020.

Unscrupulous people are using bots to garner up likes and followers on social media; some are so desperate they clone profiles of real people and use those fake accounts to follow their own social profiles. So how would you know who’s a legit influencer with real followers?

It’s pretty easy, actually. Check the engagement on their posts. Bots don’t know how to make meaningful conversations. They can do likes and follows but never interact meaningfully. Your next step is to take the time to check some of the profiles of their followers. Go through about 20-30 accounts. If something’s off, you will notice the trend very quickly. If after making these checks everything looks normal, then you’ve found a genuine influencer.

How much should you spend on an influencer?

This is a gray area. There is no way of telling how much an influencer is worth. Only you and they can decide how much is reasonable. The easier way to determine how much is a fair price is by asking for results from previous campaigns. Check your campaign objectives and decide how much you are willing to pay to achieve them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Influencer marketing can be a great way of promoting your Andromo app. You just need to have a carefully laid down plan.

Summing up

Working with the right influencers can bring tremendous benefits to your app business. You will have access to their followers and build your own following as well. And remember, a long term relationship with your influencer will always yield better results than a once-off post.

Have you tried working with an influencer to promote your Andromo app?

Mwenge Ngona

Mwenge Ngona

Head of Marketing at Andromo. Without marketing, we would never know anything about anything. Think about that. We'd be missing out on life!