Here’s Why Self Regulation Isn’t Working for Influencer Marketing

Have you heard of the movie Dark Waters? It’s a dramatic story about the legal case against DuPont’s chemical manufacturing corporation after they contaminated a town with UNREGULATED chemicals. As you’re reading this, I’d like you to take a moment and focus on the word UNREGULATED. I promise that this will clarify the most pressing issue in influencer marketing. Self-regulation absolutely must change, and it’s up to the brands to make this happen! 

Self-Regulation Leads to Fraud

self-regulation influencer marketing

In the movie, a suggestion was made by the protagonist (the lawyer leading the case) for medical monitoring. He suggested that if a company, like Dupont, exposes a community to something that makes them sick, that community must have independent monitoring. Self-regulation by Dupont was allowing hazardous materials to exist in the water system because the alternative would amount to a major financial loss. They created their own best practices and reported publicly that all actions and test levels were within their very own regulations. So how does this tie into influencer marketing? Currently, there are over 1000 influencer marketing platforms that offer an all in one, 360 degree as they call it, end to end solution for brand marketers (sound familiar anyone?). This means they provide a supply of influencers to search and discover workflow/contracting capabilities and, at the same time, present their very own fraud detection and campaign reporting. In other words, SELF REGULATION. 

Self-Regulation Does Not Allow for Accountability 

self-regulation influencer marketing

Ask yourself this question: What would happen to any of these influencer marketing platforms if clients discovered that a good number of their influencers were committing fraud to grow their audience or that their campaigns were underperforming? This would be a tremendous risk to their revenue stream and could lead to financial loss to competition (with around 1000 platforms, I’d say it’s pretty competitive). So why is this possibility NOT a current threat to their business? Because these supply-side, influencer Marketing platforms currently control all of the information being served to the brand marketers who hire them, from beginning to end.  

If you’re a brand marketer, take a moment and think about how many campaign reports you’ve seen that grossly under-delivered, considered weak, or had a high level of fraud, or as we call it, investment waste? Probably very little. My educated guess, you’ve heard practically nothing about fraud being detected from those influencers you discovered via their respective platforms. Yet, in Q4 campaigns where Sylo was brought in to verify and measure independently, we found that  30% of influencers buy likes and followers on paid-for posts.  Most brands have jumped around from one platform to another over the past few years, and I bet not one of these brands could tell you why or if one platform actually performed better than the next. So I ask you, is self-regulation working for influencer marketing? 

Self-Regulation Puts Your Business At Risk

self-regulation influencer marketing

In the movie Dark Waters, Dupont was clearly the antagonist. However, I do not blame the influencer platforms the way Dupont was blamed. If the brands allow them to self-regulate, why wouldn’t they continue to do so? It really comes down to the brand marketers and their respective  advertising / PR agencies to start requesting independent verification. Without it, influencer marketing will remain the ONLY medium that does not include 3rd party, unbiased verification and measurement. As we see from the movie, Dupont’s self-regulation led to growing risks, and eventually harmed the community it intended to help. Self-regulation is also hurting the influencer marketing space and preventing it from reaching its most optimal level. As a result, Sylo has seen a continuous increase in fraud, an abnormal growth in both the number of “influencers” being presented, and supply-side platforms scraping data and violating privacy laws that could eventually make them and those brands they represent liable. Lastly, we continue to have no pathway to ROI as numerous platforms take it upon themselves to provide their measurement and verification. 

We Must Disrupt the Industry

self-regulation influencer marketing

As New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said during a press conference, it’s always easier to stay with the status quo and not accept a change or attempt to raise the bar. People want to take the easy road and say no. However, at Sylo, we believe disruption is not a bad thing if it takes us to a new and better place. As a brand marketer or media buyer for any agency, we believe you want to take pride in your ability to help shape the influencer industry. That means taking the time to learn more about how independent, unbiased verification sources collect, store, and serve its data. You also need to take into account their fraud detection capabilities and verified reporting to guide your brand towards better efficiencies and a real ROI. 

Contact Sylo Today

self-regulation influencer marketing

Fortunately, Sylo is here to help! We partner with brands, agencies, and influencers to provide the only independent data verification, fraud detection, and performance analytics solution. We help you avoid waste, and increase ROI in your influencer programs! Sylo gives you access to the most accurate and comprehensive dataset in the industry, allowing you to optimize every step of your influencer programs and maximize ROI. So get in touch with us today and start disrupting the influencer marketing industry to create real change.

The End of Instagram Fraud? Independent Vetting Makes Fake Followers a Thing of the Past

Have you used influencer marketing? This type of social media marketing uses endorsements and product mentions from people who have a dedicated social following. These people are known as influencers, and they are often seen as experts in their niche. Influencer marketing can help brands drive sales and reach a wider audience because people who follow influencers often have a high amount of trust in that person. So, they’re more likely to buy a product or service that is recommended by them. Unfortunately, the upside to influencer marketing comes with the downside of influencer fraud. Read on to learn more about Instagram fraud and how independent vetting like Sylo is making it a thing of the past:

What is Instagram Fraud? 

Influencer marketing strategies are challenging to navigate for companies because they often negotiate a rate per post with little way of determining if they got what they paid for. One reason it’s difficult to calculate ROI is due to Instagram fraud. Instagram fraud typically occurs when an influencer lies about the size of their following and how many likes and comments each post gets. Many influencers feel pressured to have large followings with lots of engagement to secure brand deals, so they purchase fake followers and use bot accounts to like and comment. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy to do this. All you have to do is type “buy followers” or “buy likes” into Google, and there are more than 5 million websites that allow you to purchase likes and followers with the click of a button.

Of course, fake followers and bots are not real people even though they can like and comment on a photo just like a real person. Thus, the problem is bot accounts will never buy from your business! Many businesses end up wasting their advertising budget on influencers with fake audiences. In fact, a study conducted by Professor Roberto Cavazos, who spoke at Sylo’s Influencer Fraudnomics Summit in 2019, found that “at least 15% of advertisers’ spending on influencer marketing is lost to fraud, costing them $1.3 billion annually.” Yikes!

Unfortunately, current solutions fall short of combatting this kind of fraud because most readily available influencer reports are based on scraped data collected without influencer permission. This estimated data is often incomplete and inaccurate and these cheaply available metrics do not effectively reduce ad-spend waste or assist in identifying KPI’s that drive ROI.

How Has the Pandemic Changed the Game?

Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, the founder of PR and marketing agency TishTash, says that although engagement rates for influencers have increased during the pandemic, brands worldwide are cutting their marketing budgets. This is why “micro-influencers” are gaining popularity. Micro-influencers are people with a smaller following of between 10,000 to 20,000 people. However, these audiences tend to be more loyal and engaged. 

The problem is that brands have found it increasingly challenging to verify micro-influencers’ ethics due to what we at Sylo see as the vicious cycle of influencer marketing. Brands want influencers to get to a certain level of massive following, but they lose that affinity with their audience once they do. Luckily, independent vetting can automate the process and help relieve  stress on internal resources like freeing up more time to hit enough micro-influencers at scale.  

How Will the Rise of Independent Vetting Continue to Create Change?

If marketers continue to make decisions without adequate data and information, they will continue to spend their budget dollars on fake audiences. Only when brands, agencies, and influencers come together and designate a standard solution, such as Sylo, will the industry’s problems finally be addressed. By using independent, authenticated data to verify influencer audiences and content performance, Sylo provides the tools and insights necessary to tackle the industry’s fraud problem, and more!

When marketers have access to the highest quality vetting on the market, they will immediately avoid almost all of the 15% loss to fraud that CHEQ uncovered. With Sylo preventing fraudulent influencers from winning campaign contracts, ROI’s will increase, trust will grow, and more money will be spent in the market. With the burden of avoiding fraud removed, resources will be freed up, allowing marketers to focus on optimizing their programs, and building on sustained success. The data transparency and insight that Sylo provides will support marketers in these efforts as well, for example: with access to verified performance benchmarks, negotiations will be more transparent, and pricing can be set based on performance, not follower counts.

The independent vetting that Sylo provides will effectively eliminate influencer fraud allowing brands to see better results, allocate more money to the industry, and drive growth!

Contact Sylo Today

Whether you’re a creator or a brand, Sylo works for you! If you’re ready to see an ROI on your influencer marketing campaigns and leave Instagram fraud behind then, you need to get in touch with us today! Book your demo and find out how easy it is to add Sylo to your workflow and get the results you need! 

SYLO Chosen to Present at VidCon!

The SYLO team is excited to announce that we have been selected to present at VidCon‘s first annual Creator Track demo session! The session will take place June 23, 2018, from 11:30am – 1:30pm PT in Room 260 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The demo session also includes Amazon, Adobe, and more!

As stated on the VidCon session description:

Join as predetermined companies will present new products, apps, and programs that will help you, the creator, maximize your total reach, views, or make creating online content easier.

You can view the full details by clicking here!

If you’re going to be attending VidCon in Anaheim, please email Erick Schwab (erick@meetsylo.com) and/or Curtis Davey (curtis@meetsylo.com) to set up some time to meet or grab a drink! You won’t want to miss this exclusive look into SYLO’s never-before-seen third-party-verified analytics dashboard.

 

Image source: VidCon US

Study: Instagram’s “New Posts” Affecting Creators?

On March 22, 2018, Instagram announced that they were introducing a New Posts button to make posts in the timeline more likely to appear chronologically – see the full details in Instagram’s announcement here: https://instagram-press.com/blog/2018/03/22/changes-to-improve-your-instagram-feed/

Following the announcement, SYLO immediately launched a research study to see how (if at all) this change would affect creators (i.e. influencers) on Instagram. As part of this study, SYLO analyzed 61 Instagram creator  accounts (which were authenticated in the SYLO platform) and these accounts 6,068 Instagram posts that were posted between January 1, 2018 and April 22, 2018, to see if their engagement and reach metrics could have been affected by the change.

As part of the research, SYLO analyzed the likes and comments that the creators received on each post within each of the first few hours after publishing the post to see if their engagement traction could have been affected by the change, since the change was meant to increase the number of posts that would appear chronologically.

SYLO analyzed the creators’ post metrics for 2018 leading up to the change (January 1, 2018 – March 21, 2018) and compared that to these same creators’ post metrics for the month following the change (March 22, 2018 – April 22, 2018).

Here are the three key findings from this research:

1. Creators received post engagements much more quickly
After the Instagram algorithm change, the average creator received a much larger percentage of their total engagements in the first hour after their posts were published than they had received before the algorithm change, with an increase of 19% for likes and 18% for comments. (Total engagements are the combined likes and comments collected for seven days after the post is published.)

2. Follower growth per day increased exponentially
From March 22, 2018 – April 22, 2018, the creators analyzed saw an average 520% increase in follower growth per day compared to January 1, 2018 – March 21, 2018. This average accounted for extreme outliers, so SYLO also calculated a trimmed average of 64% increase in follower growth per day, which accounts for the removal of these extreme outliers on both ends of the spectrum.

3. Posting increased by 23% month-over-month
Comparing the creators month-over-month, in the month after the change (March 22, 2018 – April 22, 2018), creators posted 23% more than they did in the month prior to the change (February 21, 2018 – March 21, 2018). SYLO analyzed the month prior to that (January 20, 2018 – February 20, 2018) to see if this was a trend, and found that during that time period, on average, creators posted 11% more than they did from February 21, 2018 – March 21, 2018. In other words, the creators analyzed were posting less in the month before the change than they were two months before the Instagram algorithm change, and that trend reversed in the month after the Instagram algorithm change.

If you would like to receive a verified performance analysis of your influencer marketing efforts, please contact SYLO at contact@meetsylo.com!

 

Image source: Unsplash

SYLO Featured in The National’s Article on Fake Followers

The National has just published an article diving into how influencer marketing space can tackle fake followers and grow as a whole. SYLO‘s Co-Founder and COO Erick Schwab was featured in the article, giving his insight on this topic. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Fake followers (essentially social media accounts masquerading as real but controlled by automated systems) can be unmasked by companies such as Sylo, by looking for patterns of activity that are automated in nature. As a result, they can begin to assess who are the fake influencers, too.

“You can use technology to look like an influencer,” says Schwab. “There have been studies where people launched Instagram accounts and built up enough numbers over three months for brands to want to work with them. But by monitoring things like reach of posts, how content is consumed and how it’s responded to, we are able to measure the things that really matter.”

The gold rush that characterised the early days of the influencer industry will slow down now, he says, as a consequence of all this scrutiny. “It’s going to become divided into professionals and amateurs,” he says. “Some people will have a genuine influence over an audience that a brand will pay for, and that advertising will be worthy of those dollars.”

Read the full piece by clicking here!

Want to learn how SYLO is providing third-party audience and data verification for the influencer marketing space? Contact us here!

 

Image source: Pixabay

Giving Brands & CMOs Exactly What They Want: Verified Influencer Marketing Data

This is the fourth and final video in David Beebe‘s series featuring SYLO‘s CEO Brett Garfinkel, discussing how the biggest problem in influencer marketing, that is verification and transparency, can be solved. CMOs and brands are demanding standardized reporting and measurement, yet are getting unverified data, conflicting reports, and no understanding of ROI. You can view the full discussion below, and view the whole series by clicking here.

David and Brett presented a webinar on why CMOs and brands are demanding third party independent reporting, measurement, and verification of influencer marketing data. View the presentation by clicking here!

 

Image source: Pixabay

Will This Algorithm Solve the Biggest Problem Facing Influencer Marketing?

Content Decoded‘s David Beebe has released the latest video in his series, as well as an accompanying article, on what’s needed to prevent the influencer marketing space from stalling in 2018. The first video featured SYLO‘s CEO, Brett Garfinkel, and can be viewed by clicking here. This latest video features tech entrepreneur, Michael Montero, to discuss the biggest threat to influencer marketing. Check out the video below and let us know your thoughts in the comments or by emailing contact@meetsylo.com!

View the whole series by clicking here!

Image source: Pixabay

Our Take on #Bloggergate

Over the past week, the #bloggergate situation has grabbed the influencer marketing world’s attention as it continues to escalate between the two involved parties. These parties in question are Elle Darby, a British beauty blogger, and Paul Stenson, owner of White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge in Dublin.

Content Decoded‘s David Beebe posted a complete rundown of the situation, what should have been done instead, and what it means for the influencer marketing space. For the deep-dive video interview in his article, he reached out to Brett Garfinkel and Erick Schwab, co-founders of SYLO, Inc. which empowers the Influencer Marketing industry with third-party measurement to get their opinion on the situation.

The full article can be read by clicking here.

 

Image source: Pixabay

Influencer Marketing’s Big News Day

Thursday, January 11th, was a big day in news for the influencer marketing space. From Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm changes to Google’s changes to promote brand safety and ad transparency, SYLO has rounded up the latest articles which tackle how these announcements will affect the influencer marketing space.

1. Google Preferred and Ad Transparency

Sparked by the outrage caused by Logan Paul’s “suicide forest” video, a January 11th article in Bloomberg Technology stated that, “Google told partners that it plans to use both human moderators — the company recently announced it will have 10,000 employees focused on the task — as well as artificial intelligence software to flag videos deemed inappropriate for ads.”

Google then followed this up with a blog post on January 16th in which they outlined their plans for “stricter criteria for monetization on YouTube,” the manual reviews of Google Preferred channels, as well as their plans for more “transparency and simpler controls over where ads appear.”

Here at SYLO, we wholeheartedly support this approach, particularly for the manual review of posts. This will greatly increase transparency, authenticity, and brand safety in the space, and it is a practice that SYLO has employed from the beginning.

2. Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm Changes

Also, on January 11th, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media platform’s algorithm will start prioritizing friend’s posts over brands and publishers in the News Feed. This is a good thing for the influencer marketing space, as addressed in great detail in this Digiday article.

Here at SYLO, we believe that Facebook will prioritize creators that have built a strong community, have a two-way interaction with fans, and create authentic content. Moreover, it speaks to how important creators are to the social media space in general. Social media platforms (including YouTube, as mentioned above) are making adjustments to better support a growing ecosystem of quality content creation. As featured on Inc. (also on January 11th), Facebook also recently launched two new tools, an app and a Facebook for Creators website, to further empower creators to create quality content on the platform.

The Facebook Newsfeed algorithm change is yet another reason for brands to allocate more budget into the influencer marketing spacebesides already being a workaround for ad blockers, they are also now a workaround for this new Facebook algorithm.

3. Influencer Talent Agencies Called Out

Finally, on January 11th, another Digiday article dove into how influencer talent agencies are amplifying their social numbers that they report for campaign and creator success. As stated in the article, “Brands often preach “quality” engagement but seek big numbers, which means influencer networks are often scrambling to make up big goals.”

This is the biggest threat to the influencer marketing space stalling in 2018. If those who are matching and executing the influencer marketing campaigns are allowed to continue to self-report, success metrics will continue to be inflated and risk brand safety and creator authenticity. This is why standardized measurement was adopted by every other form of legitimate advertising media, and it needs to be adopted by the influencer marketing space if we are to justify the investments and increase budgets into the space going forward.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on these recent pieces of news in the comments below or contact us at
contact@meetsylo.com!

 

Image source: Pixabay

Will Influencer Marketing Stall in 2018?

Introducing the first video in Content Decoded‘s David Beebe‘s latest series featuring SYLO‘s CEO and Co-Founder Brett Garfinkel, where they discuss what’s needed to prevent the influencer marketing space from stalling in 2018. Check out the video below and let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments below, or by emailing brett@meetsylo.com.

View the whole series by clicking here!