Brands should take caution as influencer impostors attempt to scam marketers into giving away free product
The New York Times recently published an article warning brands about a sudden rise in influencer scammers and identity theft. It appears users are creating look-a-like email address and websites, posing as high-profile influencers, and reaching out to brands in an effort to get free product. We assume luxury brands are those most at risk to these scams since the the dollar value of the product has to be worth it relative to the fraud.
Regardless of the size of your brand or product, these scams are real and likely going to evolve. Below we've outlined a few steps you can take to ensure you're dealing with who you think you're dealing with when an influencer contacts you first.
Note: the following will help you identify real people posing as real people. If you're interested in tips on how to identify fake influencer profiles, check out this article instead.
Slide Into Their DMs
I couldn't resist such a headline, but in all serious it's pretty accurate. If an influencer's first contact with you is via email, it doesn't hurt to send them a Direct Message on one of their social channels to confirm their identity. It easy to create a gmail, and scammers are getting clever with naming these false gmail accounts to mimic another persons social handle or name.
Ask Them to Verify Their Accounts in Your Network Tool
Not all brands will have a "sophisticated" influencer system in place, but if you do have a third-party tool or network for influencer identification, now is a good time to use it. At Carusele, we partner with a third party to host our network and any influencer that wants to be considered for an upcoming program is asked to create a profile within the system. Step 1, register with your Instagram account. Because of this, phonies are instantly turned off from taking additional action since they can't sync their fake profile with the real one.
Stop Sending "Free Product" for "Free Work"
A more simple way to avoid these scammers is to stop compensating influencers for work with free product. If an influencer has millions of social followers, the chances of them only wanting a sample of your product in exchange for them promoting your brand are slim. These influencers play in the big leagues which means they have big price point that brands have to pay out for partnerships.
Only Partner With Influencers on Your Terms
Finally, don't partner with influencers who approach you -- at least not right away. Effective influencer marketing takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. If you're activating influencers one-off for ad-hoc assignments, you're not only making it much more difficult to track results but you're wasting dollars. Influencer marketing is a much more methodical process that should be done in coordinated flights. So if any influencer that you think is a good fit approaches you for a partnership, tell them you'd like to consider them in the next flight of your program and that you'll be in touch when the time is right (using one of the methods above).
It's likely that you won't run into this issue if you're the one properly vetting influencers and initiating contact, but if more and more accounts begin reaching out to you, hopefully these tips keep your brand safe from the impostors.
If you'd like help identifying the right influencers or running a campaign, contact us today using the form below. We'd love to keep in touch and see what type of collaboration we can create together.