What A Potato Can Teach Us About Influencer Marketing


By Liz O’Donnell

Something is gratin, err, rotten, in the world of influencer marketing and Erik Sherman tells us all about it in his recent Inc. article, “The Influencer You Use May Be Ripping You Off.”

Sherman discusses the practice of buying fake followers on social media. It’s a practice many are aware of but few admit to doing. He writes, “the practice is madly widespread because there are a lot of folks who want to be famous but aren’t really, and yet they know the endorsement deals, ad money, and even jobs often go to those who at least seem to be popular online.”

To illustrate his point, Sherman wrote about a brand strategist who created a social media presence for a potato and then bought a following for the spud.

The article left me feeling a little fried, (French, get it?). The social media game can be grueling. How does a would-be influencer or growing brand, especially one on a shoestring (I can’t stop!) budget grow a following? You can chip (I’m not sorry.) away at organic growth, but that takes time, and patience, and a long view, something too few possess in business these days. And how does a marketer suss out the real influencers from the ones that have mashed together an impressive albeit phony presence?

The answer is you have to put some skin in the game. If you want to create an influencer campaign, it takes time and effort to find the right partners. You need to go beyond the numbers. You need to look at the analytics – that might mean asking for screen shots of Google accounts. You need to spend some time on an influencer’s accounts and see who they are connecting with – are the comments and shares they get from your target audience or from their small circle of insiders?

At Double Forte, we often recommend a mix of influencers for any campaign – some with big, impressive followings and some with less impressive numbers but loyal, engaged fans. Not everyone likes that approach – it takes more time, and money then most people want to spend finding their brand ambassadors. But we know it yields the best results for our clients. And the brands that don’t want to do the work to get it right? Well, taters gonna tate! (Okay I’m done.)