Twitter purge of fake accounts good news for marketers
Research shows that phony social media engagements could be costing advertisers up to Sh10 billion each year.
Global direct sales from social media were Sh18.3 trillion in 2016 up from Sh17.9 trillion the previous year. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH
Last month, social media platform Twitter announced that it had suspended over 70 million accounts considered fake to reduce the impact of misinformation. This has affected influencers who have seen a drop in their follower counts with research showing that fake social media engagement could be costing advertisers up to $100 million (Sh10 billion) each year.Social media influencers depend on a high number of followers in order to win advertising contracts with brands. In Kenya, popular influencer Christian Dela, known as Xtiandela on Twitter, lost over 400,000 followers, reducing his count from one million to 543,000 followers. Among his prominent work with brands include the 2017 partnership with Turkish domestic appliance and consumer electronics brand Beko in which the winner got a chance to fly to Spain and visit Camp Nou, the stadium of football club Barcelona.
The Twitter purge, as it has been named, has been welcomed by companies such as global consumer firm Unilever which said it was a way of increasing transparency at a time when social media marketing is integral to enabling companies connect to their target consumers.It further noted that it would not work with influencers who buy followers as it was seeking to get rid of bad practices in the industry.The consumer goods company has an annual brand and marketing investment of over €7bn (Sh819bn).“The scale and scope of influencer marketing is growing fast and holds increasing importance in the marketing mix as a way for brands to reach consumers given influencers’ deep and direct connection with their audiences.”At the same time, we as an industry need to put in place all possible controls to avoid bad practices such as fake followers, bots, fraud or any dishonest business models that will erode trust in the whole ecosystem,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing Officer, Unilever, in a statement on its website.Indeed, according to a 2017 research by Mediakix, a US platform that connects brands to influencers, the global influencer market size for Instagram alone is $1bn (Sh100bn).This high demand has led to some buying fake followers, estimated at $3 to $8 per 1,000, to artificially inflate their clout so that they can win advertising deals.But this has caused companies to lose money spent on the influencers.“Nowadays we are seeing people with follower accounts of 5,000 or more getting paid by brands in order to promote a product. Influencers of all sizes are aware that the space is overflowing with eager brands and marketers who want to reach consumers on popular social media channels as well as seeking quick ways to penetrate the market and are turning to platforms, automation, and micro influencers so as to achieve their targets, ” reported Mediakix.Therefore, the reduction of fake followers on Twitter will make the brand content shared on the platform and the data collected from the interactions genuine. It could also potentially increase direct sales from social media for brands that are dependent on the platforms to make sales.In 2017, the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) reported that global direct sales from social media were $182.6bn (Sh18.3 trillion) in 2016 up from $179.2bn (Sh17.9 trillion) the previous year.“Consumers are turning to social media as their trusted source for original products. For companies that sell products through these platforms, they could see an increase as the purge offers a chance to interact with those that are genuinely interested in them,” said Stella Kimani, a brand strategist.In Kenya Facebook, the second leading online retailer, is the most effective channel for creating a brand and product awareness among online consumers therefore attracting brick and mortar retail stores to the platforms in order to improve their sales,” according to a 2017 survey by GeoPoll.