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Jan 17 Do Fake Followers Really Matter?

I have a rather provocative question for you to consider if you're in influencer marketing - Do fake followers even matter?

A recent study suggests that the industry lost $200 million by paying influencers based on their follower count with a proportion of followers that are estimated to be fake. To me, this is only true if you're paying your influencers based on their follower count. So my theory is, the less sophisticated your influencer marketing, the more fake followers matter.



Now hear me out! The best programs are measured in this sort of order.

  • Max Potential Impressions: The worst way to measure is max potential impressions. An influencer has 10,000 followers on Instagram, they post, 10,000 max potential impressions. It's utter nonsense, but it's sort of the industry standard, which is sad to say.
  • Tue Views: What's better is if you can measure at least true views. Here, you're looking at the percentage that are actually being seen of these posts
  • True Engagements: Better still, if you can count the engagements that people are taking. Now yes, you can purchase fake likes just as much as you can purchase fake followers, but there are systems for weeding out those fake likes and sniffing out what's real from what's not real. So that's an important thing to do as well.
  • Web Traffic: Even better is if you're measuring real business results like web traffic. We've been measuring web traffic actually driven by these influencer programs and how that traffic behaves on the website compared to normal traffic.
  • Sales Conversion: Finally the best way to measure, sales conversion from influencer programs, either in store or online. We've been able to do both.


What we're trying to reiterate is if you're just paying out based on followers, you're really not at the point where you're driving to real business objectives. We also recommend at the end of every campaign, you need to stack rank your influencers based on their performance, including their efficiency. So look at how much they charge you relative to the true results they drove compared to every other influencer in the program, and stop using influencers who aren't driving those business results.

So, that's what I think, but I want to know what you think. Are fake followers really that big a deal in influencer marketing? I think it's an issue, but not the issue. Send me a note with your thoughts on the matter.