Influencers can’t be trusted!

Thanks to a report by Taylor Lorenz at The New York Times, one of the biggest predicaments of influencer marketing in 2019, has been exposed. The influencer community already know about the problem we’ll talk about today, but having a world-renowned media company cover the story has helped bring the first of many cheaters into the spotlight. The problem we’re talking about is Instagrammers impersonating other Instagrammers in an attempt to pry free stuff away from companies – and gift it to themselves.

This problem started because of a long-standing agreement between brands and influencers – influencers provide publicity, brands provide free products. And this agreement has been a very good deal for everyone involved. It’s a classic win-win. In fact, influencer marketing is said to reach 15 billion dollars in 2022 according to Business Insider. However, this agreement might be in danger now, as multiple brands have come forward after the report from The New York Times, and are now wary of making new deals.

Estée Lauder uses 75% of their marketing budget on influencers
– which amounts to just about $900 million. 

What we’ve seen more and more of, in the last couple of years, are people impersonating influencers. They make email addresses that look like email addresses of more popular Instagram accounts (exchanging capital o (O) with zero (0), or capital i (I) with lower case L (l)) and then they contact brands in hopes of getting a collaboration going. 

One of the cases, where Instagrammer and photographer, Kirsten Alana Larsson, were impersonated had the imposter acquiring Airbnb and hotel stays as well as a bunch of products. In this case, her email address had been faked. 

Furthermore, these imposters often end up posting their illegally acquired products on their own profile in order to gain more followers and seem like professional influencers – even though that is really far from the truth. When approached with these allegations, the imposters often deny all allegations, saying that they’ve received the products through other means. As long as the deal doesn’t have a clear contract and very little communication, there is nothing the brands can do to prevent this.

The brands are angry!
Amongst the brands that have publicly talked about being cheated by frauds, are Estée Lauder, and there is a very particular reason that they are especially interesting in this talk. Besides being a world-renowned brand with a huge marketing budget, they’ve actually planned to use 75% of their marketing budget on influencers! That’s a lot of money, and a huge part to focus solely on digital engagement… And Estée Lauder is not alone in doing this – the beauty industry is a top performer when it comes to influencer marketing, and with good reason. It’s big business for them!

However, cases such as the ones that we’ve singled out in this piece are frustrating for them. If it suddenly becomes impossible to validate a partnership without a bunch of safety measures – well then brands are simply going to stop sending influencers free merchandise – and perhaps even worse, they might stop all influencer collaborations completely.

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How can we beat this?
As we’ve already stated in an earlier article, the best way to beat this problem is through communication. There is no reason for brands to only communicate through email or DM’s. We’ve already covered that a collaboration shouldn’t be made entirely through Instagram, and since a collaboration is a professional thing, it should be made through professional tools. More and more brands have started verifying connections on multiple channels to make sure that they’re talking with the real deal – and that’s perfectly fine. 

However, it won’t be out of the extraordinary to start seeing more brands relying on professional influencer platforms to make sure that they get what they pay for – no matter if they’re paying in products or actual money. 

At Get Louis, we can only implore everyone, influencers as well as brands, to find a platform that they trust, and make their collaborations and campaigns through these tools – preferably one with a binding contract and quality assurance.

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