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influencer - best SEO,branding,digital partner, expert in INDIASocial media influencers are the fastest-growing tool for marketers, and the spike in popularity of influencer marketing is not slowing down any time soon. Mega brands and agencies spend billions of dollars to leverage influencers' followers and increase engagement rates. A social media influencer can be described as a creator who can motivate their followers' decisions and attitudes. Influencers post about a variety of topics, but they typically focus on a specific niche such as fashion, beauty, food or fitness. Today, consumers are more likely to purchase something that they see an influencer using because they trust their opinion or aspire to be like them, rather than when they see an advertisement for something they aren't familiar with. Audiences trust the opinion of influencers because they believe that their content is purely genuine and authentic. Now that we understand why a brand may choose to work with a creator, let's try to understand the logic behind an influencer's actions. Social media influencers with a large following or loyal community can earn significant profits from posting on their accounts or participating in activities such as affiliate marketing. Many influencers are able to live a lifestyle where they are constantly traveling and shopping at the most exclusive brands because of their earnings from social media. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?! The sad truth about social media influencers is that sometimes they are not who they make themselves out to be. Not all influencers get to live that luxurious lifestyle we spoke about because they’re not really influencers—they just want you to believe they are. With the rise in popularity of social media influencers, the question of whether or not their followers are authentic has been raised. One of the most prevalent issues that have arisen with influencers is the trend of follower fraud. Data collected by Statista concluded that in 2021, approximately 49% of Instagram influencers participated in follower fraud. Additionally, research conducted by IMAI, my company's influencer marketing technology that analyzes 130 million profiles, revealed that 1 in 4 Instagram influencers purchased 15% of their total followers and every 3 in 4 influencers purchased over 10,000 followers. To reach this conclusion, IMAI conducted an extensive influencer search on its discovery platform by adding filters to narrow down the results, including restricting the follower count and only viewing credible accounts, which is determined by completing a deep analysis of an influencer's followers. So why would an influencer want to pay to have fake followers? Many influencers believe that having a large number of followers, even if they are fake, is beneficial for their online presence because: 1. It acts as social proof for their profile when first launching their influencer career. Having a high follower count, regardless of whether or not they are all credible, can make a social media profile appear attractive for brands when looking for influencers to partner with. 2. It helps show that their account is growing. Brands are more likely to partner with accounts showing continuous follower growth as it means there is a higher chance of reaching a wider audience overtime. 3. Many industry players still care about how big of a following an influencer has. While the trend of nano and micro-influencers is on the rise, some brands are still only interested in partnering with macro-influencers, accounts with more than 100,000 followers. Therefore, an influencer may be tempted to purchase fake followers because they want to be seen as a competitive choice when a brand is looking for an influencer to work with. 4. It helps them get more opportunities. Having more followers can result in more brand sponsorships for an influencer. Influencers who purchase their followers have likely not thought about the negative implications of their actions. The industry is getting smarter and the problem for these influencers is that many brands are starting to use marketing technologies to conduct a deep analysis of their followers. The moment that a brand discovers that an influencer has purchased their followers, it is likely that they will be immediately rejected from the campaign. Without authentic followers, an influencer cannot benefit a brand, as they will have extremely low engagement rates, resulting in a low ROI. For companies that aren’t up to date with the latest marketing tools, they will unfortunately lose a significant amount of money partnering with influencers who are promoting their product to fake bots rather than real followers. In addition to utilizing a marketing solution to help with your influencer search, here are some of the best practices to consider when choosing an influencer to partner with: • Identify Their Interests: The first step to choosing an influencer to partner with should be identifying them and their community’s main interests. If their interests do not align with your target audience, they are not a good fit for your brand. • Past Partnerships: Scan their profile to see if they have worked with brands in the past. Were these posts successful? You will be able to get a rough idea of how your sponsored content would perform based on their past promotions. • Engagement Rates: You should always select an influencer with high engagement rates. A highly engaged community is a good indication that the influencer has a low percentage of fake followers and that their community is receptive to the types of content they post. So, if you are an influencer, stop buying your followers! And if you are a brand or agency, stop trawling your money away and pay for the real deal! It’s time to invest in marketing strategies that can help you make an informed decision about which influencer is the best fit for your brand. Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify? 02 Best influencer marketing agencies in Nigeria In this article, we’ll see some of the top and most visible influencer marketing agencies in Nigeria right now. A quick google search reveals a number of outfits offering influencer marketing services to different levels of complexity and scale. We will highlight a few here, and then break down the services an influencer marketing agency should offer. Pulse is Africa’s leading innovative media company, offering a wide range of quality media and marketing services, one of which is influencer marketing. With a presence in 6 African markets, Pulse has built a network of influencers across the continent under the initiative called the Pulse Influencer Network. This platform recruits some of the biggest and brightest creators on the continent and connects them with corporate partners looking to reach and connect with new audiences. The Pulse Influencer Network has helped brands just entering the Nigerian market, and already existing brands to execute successful marketing campaigns and reach a core engaged audience. As an influencer marketing agency, Pulse provides an end-to-end offering to its partners from influencer sourcing to influencer campaigns and social media management. Pulse offers two important added advantages. First is the creative, media and campaign experience that Pulse has, enabling partners and clients to engage not only influencers but also a media team with scriptwriters, video directors, producers and editors. This can help partners shorten the turnaround time from concept to execution and results. Secondly, due to its vast digital audiences on the web and social and its social media teams, Pulse is able to reach super niche micro-influencers with much higher engagement rates, making it possible for brands to access and convert super targeted communities. Tima is an influencer marketing agency based in Lagos Nigeria. It offers data-driven influencer marketing services to help marketers and brands amplify their message through curated influencer audiences. Tribahl is an influencer marketing agency that also boasts of a wide reach in influencers and influencer campaign capabilities. What is a good influencer marketing agency? For marketers and brands looking to leverage influencer marketing in their campaigns for the first time, we’ve made a list of a few points to pay attention to as you shop for a fitting agency: Influencer diversity and sourcing A good influencer marketing agency can demonstrate a history of being able to find the right influencers with the right community size for each campaign. The importance of sourcing influencers and creators in a tailor-made approach for each campaign is crucial. If well done, it will maximize the reach and efficacy of the campaign, leading to a stronger achievement of objectives. Campaign and content experience When the right influencers have been sourced for a campaign, it is imperative to supply the right brief to the creators. The right brief will not hamper their creativity and connection to their audience, but still, it will constrain and clarify the message being passed in their content. A good influencer marketing agency will also be able to demonstrate capability in managing influencer marketing campaigns and actual influencer content. At the end of each campaign, it is useful to collect the combined analytics to be received from all participating influencers and present a post-campaign report to the brand, highlighting the general response of the audiences, and which influencer community engaged more with the content. As an influencer agency, this service is as crucial to the brand as the campaign itself as the data obtained can help brands structure their subsequent influencer campaigns to make the most of them. Influencer marketing agencies are specialist agencies within the creative industry that deliver campaigns and marketing that are super targeted, helping brands connect more deeply with audiences. Choosing which agency to execute an influencer marketing campaign is important to the success of the campaign, and to how judiciously the campaign budget is used. As an influencer marketing agency, Pulse’s strong influencer network around Africa and its huge digital audiences demonstrate deep local connections to the creative industry in each operative market as well as an understanding of local context around content creation. If you’re interested in leveraging influencer marketing to connect with new engaged audiences, talk to Pulse. 03 How to become an Instagram influencer Although ‘influencers’ are often mocked for ‘not having a real job,’ you can’t deny their online selling power. Whether it’s someone famous like Kim Kardashian, or a non-celebrity micro-influencer promoting their latest travel destination or interior design fad, somebody will always click the Buy button afterward. So if you want to become an Instagram influencer, how do you do it? How do you make millions per post like Ronaldo or Kardashian? Is making millions of dollars even possible? Read more: How to get back a disabled or hacked Instagram account QUICK ANSWER To become an Instagram influencer, you first have to pick your niche (or sub-niche). Set up a business or creator account, research your competitors, and begin posting regular high-quality images and short videos. Once you have accumulated a minimum of 1,000 followers, you can start pitching your services to brands. JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS Pick a niche If you want to be an influencer on Instagram, you first have to decide what you want to influence. You can’t influence everything. You have to establish yourself as an expert in a particular niche subject. However, if that niche subject is hyper-competitive, then you need to drill down into a sub-niche. So, for example, instead of women’s fashion, consider teenage women’s fashion. Or drill down even further and do teenage women’s fashionable accessories, such as cellphone cases. Once you have your niche, you must stick to it and not jump to another niche. Otherwise, people will ask what it is you actually stand for and are an expert in. If followers are confused, so will brands you approach for potential sponsorship. Create a business or creator account The next step is to get the right kind of Instagram account. You need to approach this as a business. Therefore, a personal account just isn’t going to cut it. At the very least because you will not get the extra free essential features that come with a business or creator account. So what is the difference between a business account and a creator account on Instagram? On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of difference. However, Instagram recommends a creator account for influencers, and my colleague Curtis Joe sums it up in the chart below. Research similar content accounts The next step is to research the competition, and see how they do things. There are many reasons for doing so. You need to find out how potentially difficult it will be to stand out from the crowd. Studying their methods will give you valuable insights into what’s working and what’s not. Looking at their followers’ lists can give you clues into the kind of people and brands you should be focusing on. Watching their videos and looking at their photos can inspire you, but at the same time, help you not to do the exact same as them. One of your biggest selling points to brands should be your uniqueness. If brands see you’re merely copying other people, then they won’t be interested. So look at your competitors and see what they’re not doing — and do that. Master shot-form video and reels Although Instagram is an image-heavy platform, there’s no denying that social media is moving heavily in the direction of video. When people scroll through their Instagram feed, they may prefer to see an influencer holding a product and talking about it to the camera. Therefore, you need to learn how to make short-form videos, live streaming, and Reels. They’re easy enough to do, but you should obviously be comfortable talking to a camera. Saying that, many people have said that they prefer watching uncut, unpolished, unedited videos. It makes the whole influencer experience feel and sound more authentic. So while you should still learn video editing skills, don’t get too hung up on making “the perfect video.” Oh, and don’t forget to add captions. Videos and Reels are muted by default. Create and post quality content frequently The key to building up a loyal follower base, and getting on the radar of brands, is to post frequently, basically every day. But you shouldn’t rush out sub-standard quality work. Your Instagram account is your portfolio, by which brands will judge whether or not to work with you. Potential followers will look at your work and choose whether or not to follow you. So, you need influencer to take time and care to produce the best work possible. Do a lot of work on your descriptions and hashtags. Create standout graphics with Canva.