The one (biggest) mistake marketers make in influencer marketing

There’s no denying that influencer marketing is big in Singapore – and that industry leaders earn a pretty penny. Take Wendy Cheng, more commonly known as Xiaxue, for example. The blogging veteran, who started blogging in 2003, regularly rakes in profitable campaigns and sponsorships. This includes her $100,000 home renovation, which she didn’t fork out a single cent for.

It’s no wonder, then, that the influencer industry has attracted many who are eager to follow in Xiaxue’s footsteps, and make a seemingly easy living promoting various lifestyle products. But with the industry growing increasingly saturated and competitive, many influencers are determined to grow their fanbase and clinch deals at any cost – including resorting to underhanded tricks.



Given how much the landscape of influencer marketing has evolved over the past 5 years, many marketers are struggling to catch up.

The one biggest mistake that inexperienced marketers make? Not being discerning enough when it comes to evaluating influencers’ credentials.

It’s widely acknowledged that many influencers buy follows and likes in a bid to make their numbers seem more impressive to potential clients. How do you tell whether an influencer has done so?


Here are a few methods:

#1: Check their engagement rates

If they have a ton of followers, but they’re not getting many likes or comments on their pictures, something’s up. Calculate their engagement rate on their photos by adding up the number of comments and likes per photo, and dividing this by the number of followers that they have. Then benchmark the number according to these average like and comment rate statistics that we’ve compiled from Markerly:

1k – 10k followers: 8.03% like rate, 0.56% comment rate
10k – 100k followers: 2.37% like rate, 0.14% comment rate
100k – 1 million followers: 1.78% like rate, 0.09% comment rate
1 million – 10 million followers: 1.66% like rate, 0.06% comment rate



If the influencer in question has 50k followers, but a like rate of only 0.5%? At worst, you can assume that he or she bought followers. At best, he or she might have an organic but uninterested following, which for some reason, isn’t engaging or connecting with his or her posts in any way. Either way, this wouldn’t be your ideal candidate to work with – not by a long shot!


#2: Check their comments

Even if an influencer has a pretty healthy engagement rate, this doesn’t mean they’re in the clear. Other than directly purchasing followers, it’s also common for more sophisticated influencers to purchase likes or comments to try and cover up their tracks. These comments, though, tend to follow the same cookie-cutter format and contain generic words such as “nice!” or “cool!”, followed by a smattering of emojis.



#3: Watch out for spikes in their fan growth

This one requires you to use a paid service such as Starngage, but if your company is looking to invest substantial resources into influencer marketing, we’d say, go for it.

Basically, you’re looking at your influencer’s growth in fan base over a period of time, and if this is organic, it’s likely to follow a gentle curve, instead of having a sharp incline as pictured here. The sharp incline strongly suggests that an influencer purchased followers – one other possibility is that his or her account was featured on Instagram’s Explore page, but the chances of being featured are extraordinarily slim, which points to the former option as being more likely.


Other than learning how to look at influencers’ fanbase with a critical eye, it is also essential for marketers to build trackable campaigns that they can use to evaluate their influencers’ performance, post-campaign.


Watch out for our upcoming article on how to do just that!



Xiaxue, blogger