David Shawcross

Avoid the catfishes of Influencer Marketing with Codec

How to successfully navigate the minefield of Instagram and choosing the right influencer whilst avoiding catfishes

Did she fool you?


The conversation around Influencer Marketing transparency has been heating up. This year, at Cannes 2018, it was thrust under the spotlight again when Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, pledged that the company will no longer work with follower-buying influencers. That’s an anti-catfish statement if ever there was one.

Back in the day, these fake influencers were pretty easy to root out - Facebook kept its ‘Page Fans by Country’ insights endpoint open for all pages, and the typ0s in Instagram comments could always raise a red flag.

In 2018, that endpoint’s long closed, and comment bots have developed better emoji etiquette than some actual users. As more money flows into influencer marketing, more sophisticated catfishes are emerging, and Brand Managers are caught up in an ROI-sucking vicious cycle. In order to reap the massive rewards to be won by identifying and partnering with the right influencer, it’s important to know… How can you catch the catfish and avoid influencer fraud? 🎣 

Identifying and catching out a catfish requires some know-how. Engagement data might help in the short term - until they start buying likes and comments commensurate with their new follower count. The potential ROI for the catfish is massive compared to the cost of a few inflated statistics.

Codec’s influencer identification technology side-steps these quantitative pitfalls by mixing in some battle-tested qualitative measures. Bringing to bear our extensive experience in the field, we look for traces of fame bestowed upon the influencer by their adoring fans. After all, fame is in the eye of the beholder.

To keep all of our customers safe from influencer fraud, we’ve developed a double-validation methodology to confidently recommend high-potential influencers to brand manager.

1. 🔍 Identify them by their audiences within your tribe

This is the fun part about influencers - even if they’re numerically huge, there’s no guarantee they’re leaders of the tribe you mean to introduce yourselves to. Matching with the wrong partner on a campaign can lead to wasted money, and potentially bad PR outcomes for both sides.
Ensuring robust in-tribe engagement is the perfect way to ensure you’ve identified the right people to be on your outreach list, and Codec’s commitment to only reporting on real, validated consumers means every influencer we recommend has real reach within your real tribe of real people. Real talk.

2. ✅ Validate that they're actually influential in culture

This is the really important bit - we’re in the persuasion business, so we need to be collaborating with truly persuasive partners. In a world where everyone can look as polished as anyone else, and everyone's stats can be as impressive as anyone else's, the only way to separate a true influencer from a catfish is to check their fame card - does the community believe they’re influential?

The key is to track and measure the traces of fame pointing to true influencers, and we’re proud to say that Codec have developed a powerfully effective methodology - leveraging these social proof signals alongside qualitative measures to crowd-source confidence. And the best part? It works on everyone, from the niche-est of niche micro-influencers to the Kardashians. There's some powerful wisdom to be found in the crowd, if you know how to ask for it.

This all takes place even before we rank them by their creative resonance with your tribe's content preferences, and through these methodologies we ensure that every influencer we recommend and rank - whether a celebrity, a YouTuber, an Instagrammer, or a Snapchatter - doesn't just hold great numbers, but also holds authentic, bona fide influence.

🤙 That’s how Codec spots a catfish from miles away. Get in touch, and we’ll help keep your influencer planning authentic and ROI-positive.

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