Alarming studies about influencer fraud have been dominating headlines over the last year, including a recent report from the University of Baltimore, which revealed that companies are being scammed out of $1.3 billion annually by fake influencers. And now, a new industry is rising—of companies who charge exorbitantly to vet influencers. This creates an agency landscape fraught with red flags, yet facing immense client pressure to deliver influencer marketing results.
Boutique PR firm The Lilian Raji Agency asserts that it’s up to companies to evaluate influencers themselves, and a new e-book by comms expert and firm president Lilian Raji, Influencer Fraud: Weeding Out the Fakers, Liars and the Delusional, offers companies an indispensable resource to do just that.
“At its best, influencer marketing can be an invaluable strategy for brands to create authentic relationships with their customers, but only when it’s done correctly,” said Raji, in a news release. “When we work with clients on influencer marketing strategy, we execute an exhaustive process to ensure our influencer candidate recommendations are free of potential fraudsters. This e-book represents our playbook for safeguarding our clients’ dollars.”
For the price of one trip to Starbucks, you can buy a thousand fake followers:
According to the report, a quick Google search will turn up hundreds of influencer marketing services boasting thousands of influencer profiles. While many of these services use their own process to vet their recommended influencers, they often miss deceptive practices only recognizable through individual analysis.
The report provides companies with step-by-step instructions on how to vet influencer candidates and keep their marketing dollars from contributing to the growing influencer fraud racket. Every influencer fraud tactic, along with telltale signs, is addressed in detail—from the most common practice of buying fake followers, to the more sophisticated techniques of botting, using social media pods and alleging fake sponsorships.
This stat report clearly shows an “influencer” following and unfollowing several accounts:
The study details a variety of fraud scenarios, offering insights on potential red flags such as why having too many international followers can be evidence of fraud, why having thousands of real followers doesn’t necessarily mean an influencer will deliver a return on investment, and how even legitimate influencers can still be scammers. The e-book also includes an appendix offering Raji’s popular “Influencer Marketing Toolkit,” guidelines and templates to launch an effective influencer marketing campaign.