ABOUT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING BLOG POST EDUCATION SERIESThis Influencer Marketing Education series by Linda Hoang is a 10-blog post series offering ethical, and effective influencer marketing advice aimed at educating would be and current influencers and content creators, the organizations that may work with them, and even the people who follow influencers. Topics around social media authenticity, influencer credibility and effective influencer marketing are ones social media strategist and influencer Linda Hoang is passionate about. Which is really just a nice way of saying she cannot stand fake influencers, fake engagement, fake followers, bad disclosure practices, partnerships that don’t make sense, misconceptions about the industry, and companies that don’t do enough research.
The intent of these posts is to help make the industry better, from all sides.
Want to learn more?
- Companies, you can hire Linda to help develop your influencer marketing strategies.
- Influencers, read these blog posts, do more research, and don’t use “I didn’t know” as an excuse for shady behaviour. If you’re trying to be a content creator, put the time and effort into educating yourself. And if you do engage in shady practices, stop, and start being honest with yourself.
Why I Remove Instagram Followers (and Why You Should Too)
Part One in Linda Hoang’s Ten-Part Influencer Marketing Education Series
A new blog post in this series will be shared each Monday from Feb 24 to April 27, 2020.
A big misconception around becoming an influencer is that you need a lot of followers.
While audience network is certainly one of the criteria companies should consider when deciding whether or not to work with an influencer, there’s so much more to it than a big number of followers.
A more important piece of the puzzle is who the followers are.
And how the followers interact with the influencer.
Today, it’s so easy for people to purchase fake followers and inflate their numbers, to trick people and companies into thinking they are more influential online than they actually are.
From an influencer perspective, knowing who your followers are, what region they’re from, what age range they’re in, why they’re following you, what content they like to see and engage with, knowing they are real people who care about your content, is far more valuable than having a large number of fake followers.
From an organization’s perspective, working with an influencer whose follower demographics match who the organization is trying to reach, whose overall “quality” of followers is high and followers are engaged, is far more valuable than working with an influencer who has a large number of fake followers or followers that are irrelevant to your business.
The quality of your followers is far more important than how many you have.
That’s why I do something that often surprises people when they hear it: I get rid of my Instagram followers.
Not every follower, or any follower.
But if I notice that an account has started following me, I take a peek at their profile, read their bio (if there is one), see who else they might be following or who is following them, and browse the kind of posts they’ve shared (if their account is public), and if it seems, after my review, like this is a fake account, a spam account, a weird account or just overall, an irrelevant account, I will remove them as a follower.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not able to keep up with everyone who follows me, and sometimes I do wonder if I’ve unfortunately removed a real follower just because they didn’t know they should upload a picture or fill out a bio before they started following other accounts. It’s not a perfect system.
But it’s important for me to try to keep my list as authentic as possible.
Every so often I intentionally do a scroll / review of my followers in order to clean up my list.
To ensure my followers are real, relevant people. This is important to me, and it should be important to you, especially if you are an influencer or trying to become one.
To be clear: this isn’t a shady follow / unfollow strategy, or a keeping up with some following to follower ratio tactic. This is all about ensuring your followers are real, ensuring your audience is authentic. Staying honest.
Now, maybe this practice starts getting a bit different and a lot more difficult to filter through the real and the fake if you become a national influencer, a global influencer, or if you quote unquote “go viral” but more likely than not, you’re probably considered a micro or a nano-influencer, which means you have a smaller but very focused, niche, following. Probably your audience—and the reason why a company would want to work with you—is local (whether that’s local to your city, or your province, state, county, etc.) or specific to a certain topic.
From the local perspective, that means paying attention to whether my followers are from my city, province, nearby provinces, or Canada. That doesn’t mean I’m automatically getting rid of people from say Europe or Asia, but it does mean if someone is following me from outside the province or outside the country, I’m going to be scrutinizing their account just a little bit closer to see if they are a real person and figure out why they’re following me and also whether my posts (which tend to be fairly locally-focused) would even be useful and relevant for them to receive.
I’ve been doing this for a long time and growing real, authentic, meaningful followers, can take a long time.
I would never engage in unethical practices to try and grow my audience and honestly, I can’t understand why anyone would. The partnerships, the posts, why you’re even doing what you’re doing on social media, doesn’t mean anything if you’re lying to yourself, the company you work with, and well, everyone else. This is maybe going to sound dramatic but honestly: how can you face yourself every day knowing you’ve built whatever you’ve managed to build on lies and fake followers? Don’t do this. Choose honesty.
I am heartened to learn that increasingly, companies partnering with influencers and practicing influencer marketing are paying more attention to follower quality versus follower number.
But this really varies. And a lot of very small, “mom and pop” shops typically don’t have the resources to properly educate themselves before they start reaching out to influencers. As well, most tools that help easily weed out the fakes from the real are unfortunately pretty costly to access. My hope is that will change as influencer marketing grows. But even if companies don’t necessarily have the funds to get automated help in researching influencers, with the right education, hopefully they’ll start doing more manual research before they decide to reach out.
Some of my favourite influencer interactions with companies are when they tell me they think my audience would be a perfect fit their product or service, and I feel the same, and it shows through the posts and the audience interactions. The best influencer partnerships bring value to everyone involved (the influencer, the company, AND the audience) because it’s real and relevant.
Now this post specifically references removing Instagram followers, but you could (and should) take the same approach for any social network you’re on. Consider who is following you. Why are they following you. Are they real? Are they engaged?
I have a lot more I could say about influencers and influencer marketing, obviously, I’m doing a ten-part blog series about this, lol but I’ll save it for the other posts, which will cover topics like engagement, pitching, deciding who to work with (beyond real, relevant followers), disclosure, measuring success and more, from both influencer and organization perspectives. So stay tuned! If you want help specifically for your organization, you can hire me to help you. If you’re trying to be an influencer, follow my blog post advice.
View all blog posts in Linda Hoang’s Influencer Marketing Education Series
A new blog post in the ten-post series will be shared each Monday from Feb 24 to April 27, 2020.
Liked this post? Share it! Let me know. Tweet me. Message me. Read other posts on my blog!
ABOUT LINDA HOANG. Linda Hoang is an experienced Alberta, Canada-based social media strategist as well as a social media influencer and content creator. As a strategist she also regularly delivers social media training and develops strategies and content plans for a wide range of companies and individuals. As a social media influencer, she regularly works with companies to develop engaging content that helps reach their goals. This allows Linda to bring a dual perspective to influencer marketing and specifically, deliver an approach that focuses on authenticity and credibility.
It makes my heart hurt when I see someone being paid by a company to promote something on IG with lots of followers who will never bring an actual return on investment to the business. So many people don’t understand things like demographics, they’re just blinded by follower count.
Great post Linda. Looking forward to reading more from this series. As a small business owner, (I co-own with my sister-in-law) I truly respect influencers that really know what they’re doing and their worth. We get approached by influencers wanting to “collaborate” more frequently than we reach out to influencers. Something that happens frequently is the initial email from an “influencer” that contains no pitch or proposal specifics at all and when we ask for it suddenly they disappear. This happens frequently enough that we now use canned responses for collaboration requests including asking for proposal specifics, is this based on gifting or is it paid, what services do they provide, screen shots of their demographics/stats.
Not sure about Edmonton but the Calgary influencer situation is infested with over inflated accounts and very few PR companies (and small businesses) have caught on. They are invited to events in hordes and all produce similar content (selfies, boomerangs, and endless tagging chains where they tag and share the same photos ad nauseum) with little insight to the people behind business and the food or product being sold.
This was a really informative post. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I’m trying to up my game as a blogger and influencer, so your tips are a great resource.