by Sydney Danson
28th July 2021
With the rising popularity of digital marketing, influencer culture, and the promise of guaranteed popularity, both businesses and individuals are on the constant lookout for tools and services that cater to increasing their following. The aim is to stay relevant, accumulate as many likes and comments as possible, get verified, and monetize. The flashy lifestyles of YouTubers, celebrities, and other social media influencers are constantly paraded to us through our screens, making it easier for scam artists to target people.
Digital marketing scams usually occur in the initial phase of joining social media because it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting immediate gratification. The demand for people with digital skills is only increasing, but so is the need to be able to filter out scammers and spammers.
Here are three tips to help you and your brand maintain a credible online presence, whilst avoiding losing money to scammers.
DON’T BUY FOLLOWERS, LIKES, OR COMMENTS
When starting a new social media page, it’s difficult not to note the empty chamber that echoes back at you because you have 0 to no followers. Or worse -the people that promise a follow back but proceed to unfollow you.
Why People Buy Followers
Buying followers is never the answer and yet people still opt to do it. This stems from the belief that with only a few followers, others will not follow back and they won’t be able to monetize their profiles. Regardless of how you choose to look at it, buying followers, likes and comments equate to taking the easy way out but more importantly, there are consequences for this behavior.
Spotting Accounts with Fake Followers
Most brands rank influencers based on their following. When influencers take to buying engagement for profit they are subject to being exposed by their platforms or tools like Fake Follower Check by HypeAuditor. This tool doesn’t guarantee accuracy because they aren’t employed by the platform, however, it’s one way to avoid getting scammed.
How to Assess Influencer Profiles
For a more independent assessment, one can look to other red flags, like if an account has “unusual” numbers. Legitimate influencers tend to have more followers than follows. Follow through with an analysis of their engagement rate compared to their following; The Influencer Marketing Hub suggests that a quality influencer may have 100,000 followers with 1,500 – 3,000 likes and comments on an average post. In 2019, a cybersecurity firm, Cheq, estimated the amount brands have lost to follower fraud at $1.3 billion.
According to Shane Barker’s article on buying followers, there are about 150 million fake profiles on Instagram alone. The risk of being exposed for follower fraud is not a good look, especially with the increasing demand for brand authenticity. On the bright side, there are resources like Sprout Social, that have put together a 10 tip guide on how to grow your real audience. Your empty social media hall is not doomed to echo your voice alone until the end of time if you take practical steps towards steady growth and building real connections. If that’s not enough of an incentive you can also note that social media algorithms are constantly being updated to look out for bot profiles and buying followers puts you at the risk of getting your account deleted.
BE CONTENT WITH YOUR CONTENT
Content is King but let’s be honest, creating your own is time-consuming and or expensive. It’s not enough to just wing it anymore, you have to think about your audience, make sure it’s aligned with your brand and post consistently and that means fresh ideas- which can be hard to come by. If you aren’t naturally creative your best bet is to hire a content creator but beware not all that glitters is gold but it can be sold. To protect your brand against copyright infringements and lawsuits, research is your best friend. Here are some great tools to make sure you stay on the right track.
Some sites offer royalty-free images like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pikwizard if you lack the budget to shoot your content, however, modifying the images with platforms like Adobe Photoshop and Canva is highly recommended if choosing this Method of generating content.
Google Image Search
With Google Reverse Image Search you can discover photos and their origin from around the web. This is useful if you doubt the source of the images you are being told are original by your content team, especially if they did not take the time to create original content.
Avoid Content Generators & Article Spinning
Article spinning is a digital writing technique that creates new content from what already exists. It is best not to be tempted by these shortcuts because they often result in more work. After all, computers don’t understand grammar. It is best to invest in tools that will allow you to reap the reward of tailoring your graphics for your audience. There are many free online visual content creation tools to make marketing easy.
Most people do not understand what search engine optimization entails and are quick to give their money to companies that claim to be able to perform wonders for their online presence. There are ways to tell if you are being taken for a ride or better yet dealing with a professional.
If an SEO company claims they can guarantee a Google Page 1 Ranking for your brand they are lying. Google’s stance on the matter is that “Google never guarantees top placement in search results or AdWords. Be wary of any company making these types of claims.” No one can claim to fully understand all aspects of Google’s algorithm — not even Google. If they are lying about that, imagine what else they might try to get away with.
Own Your Accounts
Scammers will try to make you sign a contract, with a fine print stating that they own your domains, social media profiles, and even the Google Analytics account. This makes leaving them a nightmare. Always insist on owning your accounts.
Scammers will send bot traffic to your site to prove that they are doing something. It is important to remember that traffic is a vanity metric, your conversions will not increase as a result of more people visiting your site.
It’s never a bad idea to build your digital skills because they enable self-sufficiency and save you money. Thousands of people have fallen prey to various digital marketing scams in an attempt to stay relevant. The reality is that nobody can understand your brand better than you and even though there are experts with an ethical code and not everybody is out to get you it pays off, in the long run, to build on these skills. The International Institute of Digital Marketing has a wide range of courses, from Marketing Strategies to Branding and more. You get a globally accredited certification upon completion of each course. They also host workshops through Scrum Stubs. For more information, visit https://thedigitalmarketinginstitute.org/
About the Author
Sydney Danson is a Digital Marketing Analyst Intern at the International Institute of Digital Marketing™. Danson holds an AA from the Univerity of South Florida and specializes in media studies and content design.