Leave it to web-trolling troublemakers to try to ruin a good thing. With influencer marketing skyrocketing as a leading (and effective) branding strategy, fakes and posers are starting to pop up across the social terrain, forcing comms pros—who were just starting to establish ground rules for the practice—to scramble in search of ways to combat what’s now called influencer fraud.
Brands and comms agencies are banding together to take action, and the Influencer Marketing Council (IMC)—formed in 2017 by leaders from Clorox, Publicis Media, Initiative, Horizon Media, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Haworth, Havas Media, Lippe Taylor, StubHub, Abrams Artists Agency and Captiv8—announced the release of the coalition’s first major initiative, Fraud Best Practices & Guidelines.
The council was formed to bring the industry together to provide clarity on the type of disclosure that works best for consumers, as individual companies and creators have struggled to define these guidelines, as well as provide best practices on a platform by platform basis for the industry.
One of the group’s top priorities this year has been to tackle one of the largest problems facing the industry—fraud/bot activity
On average, more than 11 percent of engagement for influencer-sponsored posts on Instagram are generated by fraudulent accounts. The group’s goal is to promote standardization and efficiency to help brands increase trust, provide greater transparency, and increase positive business outcomes from Influencer Marketing. To help guide brands, agencies and creators, the group has put together the industry’s first guidelines and best practices to educate leaders in the space on the warning signs and how to combat fraudulent activity. This includes metrics such as follower patterns, engagement spikes and variations in audience location.
“Influencer marketing presents many rich opportunities for brands, but fraudulent activity – particularly around acquiring followers and driving engagement—in the space remains one of the key barriers to achieving true engagement and trusted measurement,” said Jeremy Cohen, VP and head of global content partnerships at Publicis Media, in a news release. “We are thrilled to partner with the IMC on the development of these guidelines as they will help our industry collectively combat fraud.”
“As consumer behaviors change, we strive to identify and implement new and innovative solutions for brands to reach and engage with their audiences. Influencer marketing has been a key area of growth and a solution we are really excited about,” said Hallie Johnston, chief client officer at Initiative, in the release. “But with growth, comes the responsibility to implement the right standards. We fully support initiatives, like the IMC, to improve the ecosystem and move our industry forward.”
“Fraudulent activity is a major pain point for the industry and we don’t see this slowing down until we, as a whole, step up. The IMC is focused on ‘action oriented’ initiatives, we believe by putting out tactical solutions for brand marketers, we will make a difference,” said Krishna Subramanian, co-founder of Captiv8, in the release.