The secret’s out: Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing and most exciting aspects of the marketing industry, and everyone’s eager to be a part of it. As the number of influencers grows and platforms like Instagram reach all-time user highs, it’s important to know what secrets influencers are harboring when they build their followings.
Plenty of influencers build their followings organically, but some rely on bots, pods, and clever feed editing to legitimize accounts with little or no organic reach. By using these hacks and secrets, some influencers are able to shape their narratives to better appeal to brands.
Having the inside scoop on influencer secrets can help marketers spot these tricks, get a better idea of an influencer’s actual value, and understand how the unseen currents of popular platforms drive engagement.
Bots exist in some form on most social media platforms, but they’re most obvious and impactful on Instagram. Through services like the now-defunct Instagress, users can automate their accounts, liking, commenting on, and following other users’ accounts to encourage reciprocation. There are also many services Instagram users can use to buy likes, comments, and fake followers.
Much of an influencer’s value is based on vanity metrics (followers, likes, and comments), so buying these metrics allows influencers to increase their rates when working with brands.
It’s not a perfect system, though. Instagram is more than aware of the botting that takes place on the platform and has taken steps to curb fake activity. In 2014, Instagram purged millions of fake accounts from the platform, and as it grows, it may look to clean house again with Instapurge 2017.
Related Post: How To Spot Fake Followers On Instagram
Though we don’t often hear about it, YouTube has its own problems with fake engagement. Much like buying likes on Instagram, YouTubers can buy views from a number of different providers. Views, like “likes”, are a vanity metric meant to provide a measure of a video or channel’s popularity. Some users use fake views on YouTube to boost growth.
Viewers tend to gravitate toward videos with more views because those views lend a degree of credibility. The assumption is that if a video is popular, it must have good content. When users search for content on YouTube, they favor videos with higher view counts, which, in turn, drives legitimate views to the video.
Some YouTubers buy views when they’re building channels to get recognition and attract real viewers to their videos. Even established creators and artists have been known to buy views to boost a video to viral status. In 2012, YouTube cracked down and stripped Universal and Sony of 2 billion fake views. They weren’t the only ones affected, either. Channels belonging to Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Avril Lavigne, and more also saw their view counts dip.
Beyond follower counts and engagement on individual works, brands and marketers often look for consistency in content and engagement. That means looking at averages — average number of views, likes, comments, etc.
Peaks and valleys in engagement don’t look great for social media channels. They mean that content can be hit or miss, and marketers don’t want to spend money and effort on a post that may miss. Consistently high engagement is a strong selling point because it suggests that any post on an account is guaranteed a certain amount of exposure.
Influencers know what marketers are looking for, though, and may delete posts that underperform. If consistency is key, influencers know how to put consistency on display.
Related Post: Guide To Working With Instagram Influencers
With 700 million monthly active users and 200 million daily active users on its new Stories feature alone, Instagram is enjoying a social media boom. Its popularity also means that influencers are more eager than ever to carve themselves a niche on the platform. Fake followers are one way to boost metrics on Instagram, but the most recent method is called “Instagram Pods.”
Instagram Pods are groups of Instagrammers that follow each other and like and comment on each other’s content. In joining these pods, Instagrammers get automatic follows and engagement, provided they return the favor. Most Instagram pods require invites and have rules for how pod members should engage with content.
Some may think of pods as another kind of “fake” engagement, but they may actually benefit marketers, too. The engagement coming from pods isn’t organic in the traditional sense of the word, but it isn’t entirely fake in the way that fake likes and comments are, either.
Pods aren’t just about metrics. Engagement from pod members takes advantage of Instagram’s algorithm and pushes content to the top of users’ feeds. When brands partner with influencers who belong to a pod, they may benefit from that algorithm bump, which is better for everyone.