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Brands face issues when engaging consumers via influencers

06 August 2019 - 14:06 by Simon Crisp

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Many people will be familiar with the concept of influencer marketing; it is one of the reasons that social media services such as Instagram and Twitter are attempting to integrate safe shopping online into their platforms rather than directing customers to third party retail sites.

However, a study published by Cheq this month suggests that a growing number of brands are being hurt by influencer-related fraud, with annual costs expected to exceed £1 billion this year.

Researchers working at the University of Baltimore were responsible for the report which found that one of the main issues with influencers becoming more important in advertising products and services is that there is an opportunity for apparently legitimate personalities to be created on false pretences.

Since it is possible for anyone to buy ‘fake’ followers for a social media account they create, marketers may think that the influencer they are working with is the real deal when in reality they have no genuine audience.

This also raises the issue of consumers being duped by accounts which boast a large following which has actually been acquired by underhanded means rather than through genuine merit.

It is thought that brands will spend the best part of £8 billion on influencer marketing over the course of this year, which means that there is no lack of financial motivation for fraudsters to exploit this burgeoning trend. The potential for brand damage and loss of consumer confidence is significant. 

Worryingly, there are predictions that this trend will get worse before it gets better, with 2020 likely to see still higher costs associated with influencer fraud.

Social media remains a relatively new channel which accounts for the uncertainties and issues surrounding the way it is being used in the shorter-term. Over time, appropriate checks and balances will no doubt be put in place to protect users.