There's been a lot of scrutiny of HBO's latest film "Fake Famous", but I feel that most people criticizing the program are missing the real point. Does the movie make it look super easy to buy followers? Yes - which it is. Does it make it look like people in the influencer industry can't tell when influencers have falsified their followings and engagements? Also, yes. For those of us who do know how to properly vet influencers and identify fake followers, I don't think we need to criticize Nick Bolton or the rest of the Fake Famous crew for bringing up this point because there are certain folks in the influencer ecosystem this applies to.
Obviously that's not the case at Carusele. We thoroughly vet each and every influencer we consider partnering with before presenting them to the brand.
With that, let's take a look at Dominique, the one influencer who kept going throughout the entire documentary. We ran her Instagram handle, @dominiquedruckman, through our qStack system that we use to measure the quality of an influencer. This system helps us analyze items such as audience authenticity, engagement quality, account growth and more to generate a score. On a scale of 1 to 10, @dominiquedruckman had a failing grade of 2.8. We would never consider presenting her to a client.
Why? Let's start with the fact that only 38% of her nearly 350,000 followers are in the United States - 34% of her followers are from Egypt. Given that she has no obvious connection to Egypt, it screams fake followers. Even if we didn't have the analysis of her following, a quick human review of her comments show they're clearly fake as well.
Her engagement rate is also anemic, coming in at 0.88%. This is about half what we'd expect for an account of her size. Her colleague from the show Wylie (@wylezzz), who moved away from the bots and fake followers, has a much stronger 2.4% engagement rate on his 27,000 followers.
So yes, we can very quickly and easily figure out that Dominique is not a credible influencer.
Then what's the problem?
The problem with the industry is that Dominique is still receiving inquiries from brands to do sponsored posts. She's recently posted content from Awara Sleep, Classpass, VitalProteins, and Smartsweets among others (and isn't using proper FTC disclosures in any of these sponsored posts, might I add). I don't know who does the influencer marketing for these brands, but I think Fake Famous and Dominique's account are shining a light on what happens when the wrong people (people who likely don't focus 100% on influencer marketing) handle influencer marketing without the proper tools in place. It's these people who are wasting the brand's time, they're wasting the brand's resources, they're encouraging more of this bad behavior by other influencers, and they’re not funding a quality content creator who could have done a better post for a better target audience leading to a better business result.
Ultimately, I think the lesson that brands need to learn from Fake Famous is that you should not leave professional marketing to amateurs. If you want to or need to do it in-house, invest in the tools that let you do it right.
If you have questions about our qStack system, how we vet influencers, or how we can help your brand, feel free to contact us. Additionally, keep yourself up to date on everything influencer marketing by subscribing to our bi-weekly newsletter, The Spin, below.
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