The Influencer Marketing Council, which launched in 2017, is delivering on a promise to provide best practices for fighting fraud in a form of advertising that is increasingly mistrusted.
The influencer marketing world, which has long faced issues with fraud and inconsistency, now has some best practices to help brands distinguish between what’s real and what’s not in influencer campaigns on social media.
The guidelines come from the Influencer Marketing Council, a group of brands, marketing firms, and talent agencies. When it launched in 2017, IMC promised to create standards for the influencer field. This week it followed through with the release of its Fraud Best Practices & Guidelines [registration].
Influencer fraud is a growing problem on social media: IMC notes that around 11 percent of all engagement with influencer-sponsored posts on Instagram (the platform of choice for much influencer marketing) is generated by fraudulent accounts. The council’s 12 best practices give brands guidance for determining whether influencer engagement is legitimate.
“For influencer marketing to truly deliver on its transformative potential, marketers need a more concrete and reliable way to identify fake followers and engagement, compare their performance to industry benchmarks, and determine the real reach and impact of social media spend,” the guide states.
The guide recommends that brands look out for fraud by watching an account’s follower patterns, abnormal engagement spikes, engagement rates, audience location, and incorrect grammar on posts. It advises brands to “make sure you have a conversation with influencers” in case any questions arise.
In comments to Digiday, Captiv8 cofounder Krishna Subramanian, whose company helped spearhead the IMC effort, said that although took a little time to get the council going, interest has been growing. More than 200 individuals at brands and agencies have expressed interest in taking part, including prominent industry figures such as Jeremy Cohen, Publicis’ vice president and head of global content partnerships.
“The IMC to me is exciting because the intent is to create a framework for an industry that’s been through stress recently,” Cohen told Digiday. “The shiny new toy nature of influencer marketing has shifted into more of a skeptical approach because of what people have learned over time.”
Next up, the council is considering hosting an event focused on on the issue.