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Can you really get catfished in marketing?

Catfishing. It’s something that the internet is prone to, but it’s not just to do with online dating.


More and more marketing specialists and brands are seeing a rise in influencer marketing. This digital marketing technique uses social media, and longform content creators to help promote and sell goods and services.


Influencers bring added value to a campaign by helping to target specific audiences. They help to increase brand awareness through utilising their existing audience (who trusts them) and producing creative aesthetic content, as well as giving the brand added authenticity.


However, influencer marketing isn’t always what it seems. With followers, likes, and the general pressure to be successful online, there has been an increase in fake followers and fake marketing. An investigative piece by Points North Group from 2018, found that brands like Ritz-Carlton Hotel (78%), Aquaphor (52%), L’Occitane (39%), and Pampers (32%), had the highest percentage of fake followers in their influencer’s sponsored Instagram posts. Another of their studies showed that one brand spent up to $600,000 on impressions that were seen or not seen by fake followers.


Here are some factors to look out for when considering influencer marketing.


Fake followers

If you are looking at an influencers page and they have a significant amount of followers but their comments section is dead, or, they all of a sudden gained 100k followers overnight. You might be right in thinking somethings off. It is so easy to buy fake followers in the modern digital era, a lot of influencers who are dying out or just want to seem more popular, will buy followers. On the other hand, you have fake accounts who will be ran by instabots and a majority of their following will be fake as well.

Careless content

Is their content consistent? Do they post regularly? Fake accounts are managed using bots and you'll be able to tell if their posting seems weird or mismatched. Also, even if it’s not a fake account but they don’t post regularly or their content is low quality, but they have a load of followers, you’ll be right to assume a lot of them are fake.

Brand brat

Who have they worked with in the past? Is their social media full of brand deals? If you don’t see any brand deals, and their followers etc are sketchy, you can cone to the conclusion that it’s a fake account. Alternatively, if they have a lot of brand deals and it is basically their whole social media, it could be a warning sign that they will take any deal. This isn't a good sign. Your customers or potential customers could see this and not trust this influencers opinion as they have so many other products that they endorse and ‘love’.


How to steer clear of bad influencer marketing


Influencers are required to let their followers know whether their content is an ad, gifted, or a paid partnership. Their content will feature the phrases such as, sponsored by, brought to you by, in partnership with, thanks to our partners/sponsors, #ad, #gifted and a few others. Making sure any influencers you work with do this is a must! It increases the value and trust of your audience. Also, when looking for potential influencers to work with, if you do a quick search of the captions of their you’ll be able to verify the account through similar influencers or the brand itself.


They also use multiple platforms, by simply searching for the creator name on Google, you’ll be able to see if they also have a blog, community form/newsletter, or any other sources linked to their main digital platform.


In the end, influencer marketing is a great aspect of digital marketing. It allows you to reach a wider audience and bring in potential customers and, it allows you to have great content created by another person. However, you have to be careful who you use and how trustworthy they are, a lot of us can be fooled by high follower counts and not look at the content or interaction on their page.