female influencer taping herself
As influencer marketing grows more popular, consumers and brands alike are striving for transparency and trust. — Getty Images/martin-dm

Engagement and transparency have grown to be the keys to successful influencer marketing campaigns. Since fake followers aren’t always so easy to spot, companies need to be on the lookout and take steps to ensure that they are transparent on every level to keep brand trustworthiness with their customer bases. Here are three things to know about using influencer marketing for your business in 2019.

Companies will be on the lookout for fake engagement

The rise of influencer marketing has also provided an opportunity for deception. Companies can create dozens of fraudulent accounts and anyone with a social media profile is capable of purchasing these fake followers.

According to the Influencer Marketing Survey 2019, 2% of respondents admitted to having faked their engagement rates, while 9.9% considered buying followers. However, these numbers are likely underreported given that another study found that 20% of mid-level influencers likely have fake followers.

Working with an influencer who is buying their engagement can hurt your marketing efforts and waste a lot of money. To combat this in 2019, businesses will be taking proactive measures to ensure that the influencers they are working with have a real and verified audience.

You may be able to spot fake followers on your own. Common red flags include a large number of followers with no photos and lots of irrelevant or spammy comments. Another big sign is an influencer with a large number of followers but very low engagement rates.

But unfortunately, it’s hard to recognize when this is happening because it’s often done in a way that mirrors a truly engaged following. These companies will deliver these followers over a period of weeks or months to make it seem legitimate.

[See more: How to Find an Influencer]

And these fake accounts often like, comment, and repost content just like a real follower would. Fortunately, there are automated tools that can identify fake accounts, of which all businesses should be aware and use.

Influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily involve working with macro- or mega-influencers, like celebrities.

More companies will choose to work with micro-influencers

In general, there are four types of influencers on social media:

  • Nano-influencers: Less than 1,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 1,000-100,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 100,000-1 million followers
  • Mega-influencers: More than 1 million followers

Influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily involve working with macro- or mega-influencers, like celebrities. Increasingly, brands are beginning to prefer working with micro-influencers.

Initially, you may ask: Wouldn’t you want to work with an influencer that has the largest following possible? Not necessarily. Micro-influencers are very valuable to brands because they have a high level of engagement with their followers. They interact frequently so they build relationships with them that mega-influencers just aren’t able to build.

Micro-influencers are often seen as more trustworthy, too; so when they recommend a product, their followers are more likely to try it themselves.

The main difference seems to be that mega-influencers can garner a lot of attention, but micro-influencers influence behavior. One study found that engagement with micro-influencers is 60% higher than with traditional celebrities.

Brands will be transparent about influencer sponsorships

If you want to run a successful influencer marketing campaign, transparency is a necessity.In 2019, it will be more important than ever that businesses are upfront about disclosing the influencers they are working with.

This stems largely from the increased level of concern from government agencies over disclosing sponsored social media posts.

FTC guidelines require influencers to disclose their relationship with the brands they’re working with. And, as ad disclosure becomes more common, social networking sites make it easy to label sponsored posts. Hence the hashtags on Instagram posts labeling sponsored posts as an ad.

Being up front about these sponsorships hasn’t hurt influencer marketing or its effectiveness. Most consumers dislike ads, but are willing to tolerate sponsored posts if it’s clear that there’s a natural affinity between the influencer and the brand. And, as influencer marketing continues to grow, consumers will be looking for this transparency between influencers and brands.

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best social media management tools, visit our friends at business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published June 17, 2019