INFLUENCERS

How to avoid crooks and pick influencers that deliver results.

INFLUENCERS

How to avoid crooks and pick influencers that deliver results.

How to avoid crooks and pick influencers that deliver results.

Online influencers are the best way to promote your brand to Chinese customers - but only if done right. Finding the right influencers is not easy.
Influencers now commonly purchase fake comments and hire people to post questions on your online store to create fake engagement. This makes it more difficult than ever to distinguish real from fake.
This guide will show you the tricks commonly used by Chinese online inluencers - and how to detect when you’re being cheated.

Inflated follower growth

The number of followers determines the price of the blogger you’re hiring. It doesn’t come as a surprise influencers often inflate this number.
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Authentic
Smooth follower growth
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Fake
Followers added in steps with little to no growth in between

Inflated engagement growth

Total number of likes, comments and reposts on influencer’s account should follow the overall follower growth.
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Authentic
Smooth growth of engagement following total follower growth
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Fake
Data disconnected from total follower growth with abrupt changes

Fake reposts

The number of reposts, ie. how many times have the content been reposted by influencer’s followers, is one of the most common ways of measuring engagement. Fake reposts do not reach real people and therefore are not forwarded further.
image12
Authentic
Reposted content is virally spread, reaching typically 3-7 layers deep of people not following the blogger directly
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Fake
Content is reposted only once, or in other words, the receiving party did not forward it any further

Fake engagement I.

Quantitative measures of engagement include likes, comments and reposts - all of which are commonly faked. A closer look at their distribution reveals impossible engagement throughout the day.
image12
Authentic
Engagement throughout the day with increased activity during the daytime
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Fake
Abrupt engagement followed no zero activity

Fake engagement II.

A quick look at influencer’s posting history should show consistent number of views, likes, comments and reposts per article. Spikes should always be possible to link to paid promotions, endorsements and competitions.
image12
Authentic
Engagement numbers do not diverge from average
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Fake
Engagement numbers vary greatly between posts

Fake engagement III.

Purchasing fake comments is very easy in China and spotting them can be hard. Influencers often use their close friends to post a couple of comments that appear real and supplement them with fake views from click-farms.
image12
Authentic
Longer comments prompting replies from other people
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Fake
Rudimentary commnets, a lot of repetition, no real discussion and replies from other followers

Fake engagement IV.

When employed by brands, influencers will purchase fake e-commerce engagement. This is typically people or bots who will visit your online store on Taobao, Jindong, WeChat Store or similar, after influencer’s content was published and ask questions to the customer service.
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Authentic
Followup questions and dialogue with customer service
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Fake
Rudimentary questions posted in bulk, no followup dialogue, no purchase

Fake engagement V.

Infuencers employing fake engagement on your e-commerce platforms typically only focus on total number of visitors coming to your e-commerce platform and number of questions asked to customer support. Most e-commerce platforms today can track the number of page visitors for each product listed in your store as well as the number of how many times your products were added to a shopping cart or collection (even if not purchased).
image12
Authentic
Increased activity on products promoted in influencer campaign

Impossible follower profile I.

The illustration shows 2 female bloggers specialized cosmetics for women. One with 82% female audience and the other with only 3% female audience. While gender can sometimes be filled out incorrectly in user profiles, it is practically impossible a channel targeted specifically at women would acquire 97% male audience.
image12
Authentic
Gender distribution fitting the influencer’s profile
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Fake
Heavily skewed gender profile

Impossible follower profile II.

Fake followers are single-purpose bots, usually only recently opened accounts. These profiles have no followers of their own. A healthy audience is likely to consist of both people with very few followers of their own (0-100 on the illustration) as well as small and larger influencers with hundreds - thousands of followers.
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Authentic
Portion of the audience with followers of their own
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Fake
Audience with no following - 100% of the followers has <100 followers of their own

Impossible follower profile III.

The coastal provinces are the wealthiest, most populated and economically active part of China. Unless you have purposefully picked a very localized influencer, most followers should be concentarted in the east.
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Authentic
Audience concentrated along the east coast
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Fake
Audience concentrated in central and western provinces, with majority coming from a single province

How to find influencers?


Directly
Reach out to the blogger of your choosing directly. Typically smaller and medium size bloggers can be reached this way, with larger influencers referring you to their agent.
Influencer aggregating platforms
These platforms typically list thousands of influencers and make some effort to rate and assess their authenticity. A good place to start searching, but automated assessments are rarely accurate and can create a false sense of security.
Agent
Person managing a number of bloggers, typically medium and large size influencers. Agent’s comission is added on top of influencer’s fee.
Marketing agency
A good marketing partner will employ all 3 methods and give you personalized qualitative assessment.

Q&A

What platforms is this guide for?

The Chinese online social media landscape is vast. This guide shows examples from the top 3: WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book (RED) - but findings apply to all social media. 

Where did you get the numbers as illustrated in your guide?

While some estimates about the authenticity of an influencer can be done simply by looking at their profile, it is necessary to employ specialized tools tracking social interaction on their channels in a long run to assess the authenticity of the blogger. The illustrations are from such tools, for example 西瓜数据, 数播, 千瓜数据 and other.

Can reputable bloggers have sudden spikes in follower and engagement numbers?

Yes, it is important to look at all the data in aggregate in order to judge the authenticity of an influencer. Abrupt jumps in numbers of followers and engagement can indicate endorsements by other bloggers, competitions organized on the account or paid promotion. These can be easily found in posting history.

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