How To Validate the True Value of an Instagram Influencer (and Avoid the Pods)
Influencers are becoming harder to find. There is a good reason for this. As the phenomenon took off, people realised that influencers could be defined in many different ways. In fact, common sense methods dominated.
Influencers with relatively small follower numbers (compared to, say, Jack Dorsey) became fair game. And a free gift or some other kind of reward was not hard to put together. Brands, all brands, have the potential to tap into the influencer opportunity. The only problem is working out which influencers will actually bring you a return on whatever investment you have put in.
And therein lies a very recent, and concerning, problem. Not only are influencers becoming harder to find, the quality of the influencers is not always straightforward. The ‘pod’ phenomenon is largely to blame for that. Pods are groups of influencers who join forces to boost each other’s levels of following and engagement.
For example, a pod may consist of ten influencers, who are most likely friends, and these friends will boost each other’s posts by adding comments and sharing. The comments that are added come from the combined influence of all those friends.
This problem came about because of Instagram changing its algorithm, and making it harder to gain engagement. Back in June 2016, and in an effort to battle spamming, Instagram released a new algorithm which made timeliness of posts and the relationship between the influencer and the brand the key points in ranking. This naturally slowed organic growth which is why the pods started popping up. There is now a whole community online where Instagram pod members can hook up and share followers.
At first, it may sound like a great idea. People sharing engagement and followers. As long as they are all in the same industry that shouldn’t be a problem. But that’s not always what happens. So the added engagement that comes from members in the pod may be coming directly from audiences that have no interest in what your brand does. The huge engagement boost that pods have provided (with some brands going from 10,000 followers to 100,000 overnight) could well be almost meaningless if one of the pods that your influencer is involved in contains members that will never feel the need to buy what your brand offers.
However, this kind of thing is not necessarily new. If we go back to the earliest days of blogging, it was common practice to gang up with other bloggers to share comment sources. If one blogger has a similar audience than another, it made perfect sense to try and share audiences. That common practice is becoming less than attractive now with the growth of truly social media, and the fact that massive bloggers have been doing this forever. It’s not something that has much of an effect now, especially if you have a new blog.
So what does all this mean for brands?
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