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Want to hire an Influencer? You better read this first

We really need to start being honest about it

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

As someone who gets paid by clients to help promote their products and services on LinkedIn, Medium, and Reddit, I like to think I know a thing or two about Influencer Marketing.

But I’m also a marketer, so my understanding of Influencer Marketing — and what to look for and execute to hit KPIs — is well founded on applicable experience.

Let’s be honest here: Your company is throwing money into a bottomless Scrooge McDuck money pit if you don’t have some kind of expert guiding your hand.

It’s far too easy to fall prey to frauds when you hop on the hype train of Influencers without being informed.

Today, I’m going to be that expert for you.

I’m going to pull you through the Instagram robot minefield, the LinkedIn narcissism bonanza, and the Reddit account buying crapshoot.

When you finish reading this, you’ll know who you should be dropping hundos on, and who you should avoid like the literal plague.

I hope it helps, because these bad actors make my job harder in the long run, waste everyone’s time, and cost you money.

And ain’t nobody got time for that.

The Instagram Robot Minefield

I’m going to start this section off by saying that automation is awesome…when it’s seamless. When you actually put the effort into adding value.

When you don’t buy a stupid amount of shill followers with fake accounts to artificially bloat your numbers.

Full transparency, I use a tool called Combin.

Combin helps to find the unique content and grow your Instagram community

The great thing about Combin is that you’re simply creating a streamlined dashboard of stuff you’d already be doing anyways.

Want to like a shitload of anime related posts because you love anime? Search for #anime under hashtags and just click a bunch of Instagram posts you want to like or comment on.

The comment feature is great, because you can write 15+ comments that are all 100% genuine — that add value and make the creators happy — and let the program do the heavy lifting for you.

My phone is a literal piece of bloated, storage-less, RAM eating garbage. I don’t even have Instagram installed unless I absolutely need it in the moment.

It eats Apps. We’re talking a total of 2 Applications installed and it’s crawled to a snails pace for no apparent reason.

This program makes my life 5000% easier, as does Desktop For Instagram.

Desktop for Instagram

Now for some realtalk about Instagram Automation, Auto-likers, and other shady tactics:

FakeCheck.co: It’s a paid service, but worth it if you want to cover your ass.

You can buy Instagram followers.

You can misuse a tool like Combin and just spam the shit out of people with generic comments like “ !!11 !1”.

You can bloat up your numbers and trick hapless business owners into paying real cash money for your bullshit.

You can also not do these things and create real success for your clients using similar tools — because you actually know what the fuck you’re doing.

Instagram has 800 million active users, 100 million of which are active every month. Businesses will spend an estimated $1 billion fucking dollars this year on Instagram Influencer Marketing.

Some of those hundo stacks could go to people that actually know what they’re doing.

Like, say, me and my clients who I will refer you to in a heartbeat and I trust with my firstborn child.

MediaKix did an experiment with Influencer Marketing and found that in just a few weeks of using scammy tactics, brands were already leaping to pay actual dollar dollar bills to work with their fake accounts.

Within a few weeks, brands offered our bogus Instagram influencers a combination of free products and money that totaled more than $500.

When it comes to Instagram Influencers, there’s also a problem with ROI

I wanted to try employing other Instagram Influencers to drive traffic on my behalf, just to see if it worked. About a week ago I joined a service called Shoutcart, and put down a scant $15 to see what all the fuss was about.

Buy Shoutouts from Social Media Influencers. Shoutcart. 400M+ Active Followers!

It was a low-risk test. I’ll be performing others in the future, but here are my current findings:

Alright, so far so good. Not a bad amount of likes, but I can honestly reach half that on my baby vaporwave account without paying even one cent.

However, “likes” weren’t the actual point of me putting down cash to see how well this worked. That wasn’t my KPI.

Wow a whopping 1 fucking person fluttered over to my website via Instagram. I am so impressed, let me just shill out another $15 for this.

Or how about I don’t and just make some Instagram Ads because the CPC — when refined — can be between .50 and $1 and that’s a far bigger boon than whatever the fuck I just did.

The crappy thing is that the only real way to get people to make the leap from Instagram Influencer Account > Your Website is to use the middle ground of your own Instagram Account.

Mine is some vaporwave bullshit I made just to screw around with Combin and post some dank [aesthetic] image posts. So I honestly wasn’t expecting very much.

But I was expecting more than a $15 cost per click, especially since the Influencer I worked with has a design-centric account.

You can also employ Instagram Shoppable Posts, but only some accounts have access to this feature.

My clients can employ this, so if you really want some “big boy” help, reach out to me and I’ll refer you.

The general consensus when it comes to Instagram Influencer Marketing?

Work with agencies or solopreneurs / freelancers and rely on their Influencer Expertise, and their Instagram Ad Expertise.

Leave it to the Big Boys who actually know what they’re doing. You can also ask me for a consultation, and I can at least get you to the baseline necessary to make informed decisions.

The LinkedIn Narcissism Bonanza

It bothers me that they used “your” instead of “you’re”.

I have written about this twice already and I need you to start paying attention, immediately.

I love LinkedIn. It’s where I can help your product and services shine. (Please note that I’m very picky. I won’t promote anything I don’t think my tribe will like, or is useful for them. You’re welcome to try, though.)

I am quite literally going to just copy and paste what I wrote in the second article above, because if I saturate every article I put out with LinkedIn truths, people will stop throwing money at narcissists who couldn’t content market their way out of a paper bag.

Fact: There is no RESTful API for personal accounts.

What does this mean? It means that LinkedIn Influencers who promise x% ROE / ROI for people who want to be “”Thought Leaders”” are mostly full of crap.

Getting Started: REST API | LinkedIn Developer Network

If you click this, this is the screen you actually get:

I share anecdotes, screenshots, and cite testimonials, because that’s the best I can do.

Actually, that’s the best anyone who employs a service to help people reach more users on LinkedIn through content marketing and “Influencer” programs can do.

The capacity for hyper-granular data just isn’t there.

Please stop lying about this.

The general consensus when it comes to LinkedIn Influencer Marketing for personal accounts?

Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash

I hate LinkedIn Influencers. I don’t use the term “hate” lightly.

There are a grand total of 7 “Thought Leaders” I think do a really great job, some of them are my personal friends, some employ me for other services, and the rest are hacks who use crappy tactics like:

“Reply with . if you’re looking for a new opportunity!”

This artificially inflates their posts because literally everyone on LinkedIn is there for some kind of new opportunity.

And the low barrier of entry will have masses of LinkedIn users replying with “.” and the only thing this does is make the Influencer more popular.

Your crappy tactics make me — someone who has personally delivered a whopping 1500% growth in website traffic as my highest success — look bad.

It makes people like me look like hacks because the market on LinkedIn is saturated with your ilk.

Stop. Doing. This.

The Reddit Account Buying Crapshoot

Whatever you do, please don’t do this. I’ve been asked by clients if buying Reddit accounts with authority and karma is a good idea, and I kindly but firmly try to talk them out of it.

Why don’t you just use some employee accounts that already have a bit of clout behind them? Doesn’t that seem like a better option?

The #1 way to piss off every user of Reddit, ever, is to do this:

It’s to shill products and services the people actually don’t want or need.

It’s to try to game the community for personal gain without trying to give something back.

The Reddit community is not your’s, if your idea is to weaponize the front page of the internet to drive traffic to something the users won’t care about.

It can be your’s if you’re trying to start a conversation and actually add value.

I’ve written an article about this already, and I implore you to read it if you want to know how to get started with gaining Influence on Reddit and using it to drive traffic.

I wrote more than 10 solid tips on how to do this.

I’ve flubbed on Reddit in the past, when it comes to content marketing. Everyone who has tried to give it a go has. But the trick is to be transparent about it, and learn from your mistakes.

And, you know, treat the community with some modicum of human decency.

The general consensus when it comes to Reddit Influencer Marketing?

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

It’s hard. Point-blank it’s difficult. I rarely offer this as a service because most of the time the industries that want to break into Reddit won’t appeal to the users.

I don’t even honestly know how to go about working with another “Reddit Influencer” because the community is so hostile towards marketers and businesses trying to win them over.

I can’t even rightly say I know even one other person offering this service out of all the marketers I know. Which is a lot of people.

I’d rather consult for people on this front, but many businesses don’t want that, because that would mean they have to actually learn or do something.

A recent would-be client who wanted this service asked to call my actual clients to confirm that I knew what I’m talking about. If you’re reading this, this is why I didn’t reach out to you again.

Only one said yes (because they’re amazing), the others were weirded out, and I didn’t even bother talking to most of them because that would expose them as employing me — and I’m completely nuts.

I never want to put my clients in a compromising position. Not just because that’s bad business, but because I care about them as people.

The consensus here is that Reddit is volatile, and your best bet is to get a consultation. I’ve promoted Startups on my Reddit account, but they have inherent value for the userbase.

I can’t rightly say many companies have value to Redditors. Because they can smell bullshit from 5 miles away. And, well, your business idea probably isn’t all that interesting or unique or even necessary most of the time. Sorry.

Is there actually any benefit to working with an Influencer at all?

Photo by Kyle Loftus on Unsplash

Abso-fucking-lutely. But you have to make sure you know what you’re looking for, how to check if an Influencer is fake news, and what your actual KPIs for the campaign in question are.

The article I just linked to from InfluencerDB lists these 9 easy steps on how to detect a fraudster:

  1. Check for a high audience quality to detect fake influencers.
  2. An authentic influencer’s follower growth is stable and consistent.
  3. Daily follower changes can reveal whether an influencer has purchased followers.
  4. The like-follower ratio shows how active an influencer’s audience is.
  5. Check the earned media value — the ultimate metric to define an influencer’s value.
  6. Video views should show a reasonable reach.
  7. Comments should be rich and diverse.
  8. Genuine influencers are also visible on other social media platforms (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter).
  9. Google results should show valuable external mentions.

For some examples of extremely successful Influencer Marketing campaigns, check out this article by Hubspot.

Check out the below Instagram post for more proof that Influencer Marketing can work, thanks to the hard work by Influencer Stéphanie Durant for Daniel Wellington Accessories.

Influencer Marketing can work. It often does work. But knowing what you’re doing — or working with people who know what they’re doing — is the difference between throwing money out of a moving vehicle and hitting a big win.

To conclude this crazy-pants journey through Influencer La-La Land:

Be smart about it. Educate yourself. Be on the lookout for bad actors. Consider getting a consultation.

Consider reading 44534 articles about Influencer Marketing.

Consider asking me for a referral to people who can help you shine on platforms other than LinkedIn. (I’m really good with LinkedIn!)

People spend $1 billion dollars a year on something this tumultuous, and if you don’t have an expert driving your campaigns, that’s a whole lotta’ cash you’re potentially wasting.

I’d rather you save that money and spend it on giving your employees raises, scaling your business, hiring more people, employing me and those I work with, going out to eat high-quality ramen, buying some cool shoes, or just really enjoying your life.

Life is short. It’s meant to be savored. Stop trying to chase the Influencer buzz. But if you have to, be smart about it, okay?

(I’m not affiliated with any company in this entire post except my own.)

Kira Leigh is a snarky marketing nerd, writer, and artist. See her work here and send her a message if you want to work together.

You can also join her on Discord like the giant nerd you are — hotpink#3745

Special thanks to Renato P. dos Santos for his continued support.