How to Lose Followers

Disingenuous endorsements is the number one reason why individuals unfollow influencers, according to Instagram creative firm Takumi and a study released last week by Marketing Charts, a hub for data, graphics, and research analysis. 

Based on a survey of 2,251 representatives in the UK, the US, and Germany, a significant crowd of 16- to 24-year-old consumers credit influencers for their “trendy buys.” While three out of five of these consumers make purchase decisions influenced by trend-setters, seven out of ten would potentially unfollow an influencer for being fake, the study said.  

Poor photographic quality, inconsistency in posting, and spamming – each have a spot on the list of “reasons why influencers are unfollowed,” but the majority of consumers say it’s a breach in social trust that turns them away. 

One of the prime reasons why more than two-thirds (69%) of consumers unfollow is due to influencers portraying a radically different lifestyle than the actual reality in which they live. A set of 67% of consumers cite unclear labelling of sponsored posts as a reason for unfollowing, while 68% unfollow when they realise an influencer bought fake followers. The latter also makes the strongest case for mistrust in marketer-influencer relationships. 

Existing rules by ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) have issued strict guidelines for labelling sponsored posts, but more than 62% of influencers surveyed mention that brands usually pressure them to violate these codes. 

According to another study by XEIM Influencer Intelligence released this year, the issue of fake followers is nothing new. 

“Facebook recently disclosed that it is plagued with up to 60 million automated accounts. In influencer marketing, follower counts have become real-world currency, and often still determines how much an influencer is paid for a brand collaboration,” the study said. 

Unilever’s Magnum Ice Cream, Ritz-Carlton, and P&G’s Pampers, for example, recently ranked among the top 10 brands found to be using paid influencers with purchased or fake followers, according to the report. 

Isabella Speight, Digital Content Strategist for the YMU Group, said in the study that it is only a matter of time before individuals are found out. 

“Sometimes deals haven’t been done because the brand knows it won’t get as much engagement as it had initially thought. Part of wanting to be authentic is making sure that you start from scratch and lay all one’s card on the tables. Those who don’t admit to such transgressions will be found out eventually.” 

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