Our world has become increasingly digital over the past years and social media has played a major role in this revolution. Today, thousands of companies and brands are utilising social media channels to build connections, engagement, trust and stronger bonds with their consumers. Instagram is a perfect example of the rapid growth we have seen in the digital space. The social media platform was launched only a decade ago and today it’s one of the world’s most popular social media platforms with over a billion active users. Brands all over the world use Instagram as a part of their marketing strategy. One trend that continues to rise on social media is Influencer marketing. A type of social media marketing that uses product mentions, endorsements and brand collaboration with individuals that has a certain social media following within a specific niche. Unfortunately, as a result of the ever-growing social media and influencer landscape, we are also experiencing an increase in cybercrime, brand abuse and online fraud targeting Influencers. Cybercrime does not remain static for long and cybercriminals are always finding new ways to exploit influencer brands via social media platforms.
1. What is an Influencer?
An influencer is someone with the power to affect buying habits due to their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with their audience, by creating and uploading sponsored content to social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat. A social media influencer typically has following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. Influencers have a long history in marketing. Initially, companies made use of celebrities, actors, athletes and other famous public figures in their traditional marketing strategies such as through television, radio ads or billboards. But with the rise of social media, we have seen a growing number of different types of influencers such as:
- Celebrities, public figures & athletes
- Industry experts
- Bloggers and content creators
- Macro, Micro & Nano-influencers
2. What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools. It takes the idea of a celebrity endorsement and places it into a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign to achieve marketing objectives and social relationship assets. The results of the campaign come from the collaboration between influencers and brands. It’s a tool for brands to get direct access to a specific target market for just a fraction of what they would have to pay for a traditional ad. It’s clear to see that influencer marketing is growing rapidly due to the advantages and benefits it provides for both brands and the influencer itself. However, for successful collaboration, it is important to associate and pick the right type of influencer that suits the brand’s personality, value and niche.
3. Influencer and cybercrime
However, despite the benefits of social media and influencer marketing, there is unfortunately also a dark side to it. Social media has created an attractive opportunity for cybercriminals to generate revenue within the clear web. As a result of the digital transformation and the use of social media, there has been and is continuing to be an increase in cybercrime, brand abuse and online fraud. From available evidence and research, it’s clear that there are some striking trends in the use of social media platforms for cybercrime. Research indicates that social-media related cybercrimes are generating a global revenue of at least $3.25bn for the global cybercrime economy annually. Cybercriminals and other malicious threat actors are always finding new ways to exploit influencer brands on social media by making use of social engineering for a variety of illegal and malicious purposes such as:
- Fake endorsement
- Fake paid ads
- Fake affiliation & sponsorship
Cybercriminals can use simple hacks to reach millions of users globally, with very little effort on their part. Fake accounts, fake endorsement, fake affiliation and fake paid ads can be up and running in no time, and with an appealing offer made from a fake social media influencer account, it can create heavy traffic and severe brand damage, very quickly. Brand damage to an influencer’s brand can jeopardize brand value, brand image and brand reputation, and in return, it will impact the influencer’s revenue and future collaborations. Not to speak about how it can also impact third parties that work with the specific influencer. That’s why it’s more important than ever for Influencers to take control of their Social Media to ensure that any online fraud or brand abuse are monitored, detected and taken down immediately.
Don’t be caught out by cybercriminals exploiting your brand or your loyal and unsuspecting audience. This audience also deserves protections, after all without them the influencer wouldn’t be in the position they find themselves in, and that can disappear as quickly as it appeared. At CelebProtect, we provide a comprehensive solution to detect and monitor hundreds of popular social media platforms for cases of impersonation of our clients’ brands. Our monitoring and detection service alerts us to any potential social media impersonation and we provide industry-leading takedown times to remove any threats found. Get in contact today to discuss how we can help you and your influencer brand.