From time to time brands launch media PR campaigns to complain that the influencers they hired “were fake.” For example, the following was promoted and mentioned on Google 255,000 times (that’s a quarter million!).
And Casper – the mattress company – stated in their S-1 filing, under “risk factors” that one of Casper’s disclosed risks is “the network of social media influencers it uses to advertise.”
For me, this is equivalent to them saying something like: “I’m making a decision to choose bad partners, and my partners – therefore – are a risk to my company.”
So, here is the question that needs to be asked (and let the debate began):
The influencers you hired are unethical – they did dishonest things (e.g. buying votes, sorry … followers)
You partnered with unethical.
Are you asking yourself why you hired unethical people/partners in the first place? Perhaps you should take a hard look at your hiring/contracting process and make the changes so it will not happen again.
Here are 5 things to look into and fix that can help you do it right next time:
- Review your vetting process. Find out what you did wrong in the past and how you can avoid repeating it. I’m happy to advise you on vetting influencers.
- Your name, your brand is EVERYTHING. And yet you entrusted it to unethical people. Consider putting a policy in place and a better process for external people who handle your brand messages.
- Review your company social media account on Insta/LinkedIn/Twitter/etc and your BSMP. Do each of your company posts have at least 10 comments? If not, it’s a sign that your story is boring and people probably spend less than 3 seconds on your posts. It’s time to rethink your strategy and, if you can’t come up with a more creative one consider hiring someone new who can or taking a break from social. Don’t maintain social media accounts for the sake of having them if they don’t do anything for your brand.
- And a word about “fake”… influencers are community leaders and so they mirror their communities and they mirror you, since you selected them. So, consider this:
a. Are you leading by example on that topic? It is known that most brands have fake followers, including bots, and that they are possibly purchased. Is your brand on top of that? Do you regularly remove your fake followers, comments, and likes? Before you attack influencers, you should look at your own followers before you ask influencers to do the same. Because if you don’t do it, your community sees that and influencers see your behavior as an example!
b. Are you using (or about to use) virtual CGI-generated influencers? Those are very cool and most of them are very successful in achieving results. But…they are “fake”… have you thought about that?
In other words, be the leader in fighting fake, not by fighting influencers but taking care of your own accounts first.
- Review the rest of your practices: Is it easy for people to remove themselves from your mailing list and email list? When you we visit your site do you invade our privacy by tracking our web activities? Are you transparent enough? Are you really caring? Do you celebrate your customers? Do you treat people as a means to an end? When people contact you on website, do you answer with an automated template or as a human? Lead by example.
Because, if you don’t answer those questions, if you don’t fix the problems, after your PR campaign against “the bad influencers” winds down, your company will still need to break through, and it won’t be able to.
Takeaway: Instead of hiring media to announce that “you hired bad influencers and you will fight against that” >>
- Lead by example
- Rebuild your vetting process for partnerships.
- Rebuild your social media messaging.
Your thoughts? Let the debate begin!
SMI* = Social Media Influencers