Recent events have uncovered the ugly side of the industry and unveiled a long list of influencers who have used programmes to inflate their following. 

The subsequent Twitter activity has become a bit of a charade. Whilst we wouldn’t condone the “name and shame” or “witch hunt” nature of some, we can understand why they’re frustrated. We do sympathise with influencers that the pressure to grow a large following has been led by brand-side inexperience, but the fact of the matter is that in order to ever be trusted again those involved need to clean up their act. Properly. 

If you are one of them, here are some suggestions about how to rectify your credibility in the market: 

Admit It

If nothing else what has become abundantly clear is that it is very easy to check out an influencer’s credentials (read our quick-fire guide, here) so it’s more or less pointless to deny your wrong doing. 

  Also take a moment to consider this; with 60 million users Instagram are highly unlikely to attempt to police the situation but do not think for a moment that they aren’t aware of it. There are substantial reports that their plan is to monetise the issue; giving brands access to analytics for a fee (as RewardStyle does for the affiliate market). So, if you don’t admit it now you’ll only be forced to later. 

Remaining silent, or half heartedly admitting that you were naively coerced into using a program only lengthens the pain for you. Equally, claiming your inflated following can be counted as authentic or geniune in any shape or form is only going to rile people (as it’s untrue; if you find a programme that offers that service please email us because we’d want it for ourselves). Quickly, concisely and apologetically admit to it. 

Remove the Bots

It has been suggested that those who have used bots must delete their accounts, throw their phones into a lake and move countries. In truth, it might be easier to just start again. Someone will realise they can do the social media recovery equivalent to Britney shaving her head, and turn this into a positive. High five to whoever that person is. It’ll most likely work, Britney is doing just fine. 

We don’t think that’s entirely necessary but you will need to put some time and effort into deleting every single one of the accounts that followed you during this period. It will take you a long time, but so does growing an organic following so let that be a lesson to you. 

Take the Hit

Understand that some brands and agencies are going to need to cancel campaigns with you. We’d seriously suggest that you tell all of the brands you are currently planning projects with as they’ll only find out later.  

If you are at dire straits and financially can’t afford to take the hit the only alternative we can suggest is openly talking to (and showing) brands the level of inflation, and offering to work with them for a proportionately lower fee. We’d imagine few brands will take you up, remember they can’t be seen to be associated with fraudulent behaviour, but it might be worth a shot. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to concentrate on organic content (without brand support) for a while – like those who have lost out to you on campaigns have had to (allow us one catty remark, you screwed up big time and ruined our much-needed long weekend).