The influencer marketing industry was founded on a search for authenticity. Marketers moved from traditional ad buys to engaging with influencers to promote their products. And this is nothing new. For decades, marketers have relied on endorsements from celebrities. It’s why Rock Hudson plugged cigarettes and Elizabeth Taylor attached her name to a number of perfume companies. The only problem? These influencers were aspirational - they were celebrities and stars, they weren't our neighbors or friends. That is, until the explosion of social media in the 2000s.
With the rise of social media, marketers began transitioning away from working with people who are famous for being famous. Instead, they started putting their products in the hands of social media influencers and asking them to share their experiences with their followers. The goal was to tap into an online community built on trust and true connection.
Popularity of influencers taking to social media has skyrocketed, and along the way, has lost some of what initially made it great: authenticity. In recent years, there has been a rise in BOTS, Instagram pods, and purchased followers and engagements. For perspective, Sway Ops reported that on one given day, posts that were marked as #ad or #sponsored contained over 50 percent fake engagements and BOTs are responsible for over 40 percent of total comments for over 2,000 sponsored posts made each day.
Needless to say, this is a pervasive problem throughout the industry. And it's something we take very seriously. We cannot promise that we’ve completely eradicated influencer fraud from the Social Native platform. With a space that is in the early stages of fraud detection, it is too simplistic to say that we will remove every influencer that shows signs of bought followers and fake engagements. The line between fake and genuine is still very blurred. However, we can promise that Social Native’s prevention technology is ahead of the curve, and we are doing everything within our power to bring greater transparency to influencer marketing.
As part of our commitment to give brands complete visibility into their campaigns, we’ve developed a Creator Impact Algorithm. What exactly does this mean? Basically, Social Native leverages cutting edge AI tools as well as human analysis to analyze each creator in our network and allocate an authenticity score. The score is based on a variety of factors including:
Audience Authenticity: We use a combination of comment analysis, engagement and demographics to break down a creator’s followers. This helps us distinguish between real people, mass followers and incentivized followers.
Audience Growth Origin: We evaluate the creator to identify potentially incentivized follower growth both using tools and human analysis
Engagement Authenticity: Using a combination of the creator’s own engagements along with a comparison to similar accounts, we are able to ensure creators have authentic engagement on their content. Additionally, we evaluate other metrics such as comment authenticity to detect and limit Instagram Pod activity.
Our Premium Audience Score functionality empowers brands to define their own tolerance thresholds. With over 95 million BOTs on Instagram alone, the line between real and fake has never been more blurred. While fraud detection technologies are still a long way from being foolproof, Social Native is fully committed to improving the influencer process for both brands and creators.