Why Brands Hate Social Media Bots
Simply put, it’s fraud. Social media of all kinds have become increasingly infested by bots. These automated accounts irritate everyone with constant spam and have also been used to do things as serious as sway political opinion. When it comes to hotel and travel marketing, however, businesses will pointedly avoid influencers with fake followers and bots.
Why is millennial trust so important to businesses?
By 2020, millennials will account for $1.4 trillion of global spending, representing around 30% of retail spending altogether. Alongside this, they are transforming the shopping habits of their parents. The previous generation are increasingly mimicking the behaviours of their children as they learn to climb the digital learning curve. More and more, parents are learning to demand the same things as their children.
As such, the importance of social media can be broken down into two factors: engagement and sociality. Both generations now seek other people’s reviews and opinions before buying. As both advertising competition and the cost of paid adverts rises, trust is fast becoming the keystone of a consumer/brand relationship. Here, brand loyalty cannot be treated as an inanimate object, and certainly not as something which can be bought. In an age of highly prolific social media, there are no shortcuts for establishing trust anymore. Influencer marketing, as an answer to this, requires a long-term commitment to listening and catering to an established audience. When trust and consistency collide, business opportunity arises.
Why does this make brands avoid influencers with fake followers?
Brands won’t work with bots precisely because they undermine the valuable advantages of influencer marketing. The whole point of ‘influencing’ someone is for brands to have you recommend what they offer to an audience who trusts you. You are, essentially, an ‘influential’ customer rather than a brand spokesperson. Influencers with fake followers lose the trust of both their real audience and the brands working with them, maybe permanently.
Using bots goes against this in every way. Brands are increasingly aware that a big follower number only means so much. Whilst it’s certainly a help, businesses don’t take it at face value anymore. Whether your audience – big or small – is engaged and interested, is what matters the most. Bot-driven growth ultimately doesn’t last. For businesses, there’s no point investing in influencer marketing which doesn’t show long-term returns.
Who is harmed by Fake Followers?
Bots generate fake engagement and don’t do it subtly. This hurts everyone, influencers included. For brands, it dilutes any potential engagement data and obscures how well their campaign is really doing. For influencers, it makes businesses think twice before investing in you in the future. Real, authentic engagement is what proves that such investment was worth the time, money and effort. Without it, there’s no way for them to measure how much good you’ve really done for their business. If you use bots and thus generate fake engagement, brands will almost certainly drop you for it.
How can you tell if someone has fake followers?
Brands can audit your social media activity within seconds online (we have our own fake follower detection system too!).
You should look for these red flags and then also look at the engagement rate:
- Followers with No Photos or Posts: If an influencer is followed by users that have not posted and/or lack a profile picture, you can typically assume that these followers are fake. Brands should also look out for influencers with followings of private accounts and spam-like usernames.
- Irrelevant and/or Spam Comments: If an influencer has a ton of comments, it’s easy to assume that their followers are active. Look through a few photos and scan the comments. If the comments are clearly irrelevant or gibberish, they’re from fake followers.
- Following/Followed by “fan-buying” services: If you look through their followers and who they’re following, you might see one or two fan-buying accounts. These are huge red flags that the influencer is gaining fake Instagram followers.
The conclusion is always the same: “if a potential influencer has massive amounts of fake followers, the brand should pass on that partnership”
One of the first places brands can look at is historical follower growth, which shows how and when your following has grown since your social media page was set up. The difference between a natural, healthy follower growth and an erratic, fake one is obvious. Brands will go out of their way not to engage influencers with the second kind of follower history. There are thousands of third-party tools for sniffing out influencers with fake followers – some like ours too even monitor fake followers on an ongoing basis (rather than just checking at one point in time).
The sooner you shed your use of bots, the quicker the brands will resume their interest in you as investors. Produce quality content and grow your audience authentically, and both followers and brands will invest more in you. There are many free apps to help you clear out fake and ghost followers on Instagram, allowing you to responsibly mass unfollow other accounts.
How does Swayy help with all of this?
Based on statistical probability, Swayy runs every influencer through our fake-follower detection and weeds out any of those with fake bot followers. The number of influencer requests worth investigating when each individual is pre-vetted increases dramatically. Rather than facing an inundation of requests or giving up on influencer marketing altogether, Swayy can help you reach an established database of relevant influencers quickly and easily.
By Angharad Miller
NB: The images in this blog by @swayy.me are re-grams of Influencer images and credit goes to them accordingly.