Influencer marketing: how brands can drive wrong behaviours

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | How Brands Can Drive Wrong Behaviours On Social Media | Dec 2020

This eNsight is the second in a 3-part series on influencer marketing.

In this eNsight, I share results of analysis that suggest brands can drive the wrong behaviours in their use of influencer marketing on social media.

As you will discover, I raise many questions – some meant to make obvious points, others to get you to come to your own conclusions, while the rest indicate that there may be deeper analysis required.

Let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

To date, brands have been using influencer marketing tactically

This marketing lever has, in the main, been used for short-term goals on social media.

Over time, influencer marketing has become a blunt instrument, used to address all brand’s issues under the sun, by throwing money at the influencers.

This approach to influencer marketing has inadvertently contributed to unnatural social media behaviours, and I shall demonstrate this using Twitter as a proxy. 

What is the measure of influence on social media?

Tweets like the thread below, which I picked randomly from the Twitter search results for the “follow me” phrase, point to the view that quantity of followers is highly valued as a measure of social media influence.

Results of a brief analysis of @KELLSBRL1’s account provide evidence of what is a concerning trend.

See the Twitter profile screenshot of this account here below.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | Follow Me Tweet | Dec 2020

As @KELLSBRL1’s profile shows,  this account is “in the business” of growing followers. 

Surely this cannot be for fun?

For an account that was opened in October 2020, @KELLSBRL1 has not done badly, with just under 3 500 followers at the time of analysis.

Curiously though, this account has posted more than 13 000 tweets in 3 months – that is an average of more than 150 tweets a day!

Given this unusually high daily frequency, what has been the tweeting behaviour of @KELLSBRL1?

To answer the question, I used a tool called to analyse a sample of 595 latest tweets by this account.

See the results in Graph 1.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | Account Analysis App | How Brands Can Drive Wrong Behaviours On Social Media | Dec 2020 | Graph 1
Graph 1 | @KELLSBRL1 Tweet Analysis | Source:

It turns out 98% of @KELLSBRL1’s are replies, and far less than 1% are original tweets.

On the face of it, this account is highly engaged, which is supposed to be a good thing, right?

But what exactly does @KELLSBRL1 say in the replies?

To answer the question, I analysed the words used in the more than 200 tweets published by this account on 22 December 2020.

Here are the results, presented in a word cloud:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | Why brands are getting it wrong | @KELLSBRL1 |Tweet Wordart | | Dec 2020
@KELLSBRL1 | WordArt from >200 tweets posted on 22 December 2020

The top 5 words are also presented in Graph 2 below.

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | Why brands can drive wrong behaviours on social media | @KELLSBRL1 | Top 5 Words in >200 Tweets on 22 December 2020
Graph 2: Top 5 Words | @KELLSBRL1 | WordArt from >200 tweets on 22 December 2020

Extrapolating from the results above, this account has been tweeting about (pretty much) the same message – that is “follow me” – everyday since inception.

While I don’t get it, it appears that this tactic is working, judging by the number of followers gained thus far.

And which accounts is @KELLSBRL1 replying to?

See the answer in Graph 3.
eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | Account Analysis App | How Brands Can Drive Wrong Behaviours On Social Media | Dec 2020 | Graph 3
Graph 3 | @KELLSBRL1 Tweet Analysis | Source:

ALL the top 10 accounts that @KELLSBRL1 has been replying to are also in the “follow me” business.

Here is the Twitter profile of @FcMutuals, the top 1 account in Graph 3:

eNitiate | Bra Willy Seyama | Influencer Marketing | @fcmutuals Twitter Profile | Follow Me | Dec 2020

@FcMutuals has been tweeting more than 300 times a day since this account was opened in August 2020, and this has handsomely earned it more than 35 000 followers.

Here are the similarities between @KELLSBRL1 and @FcMutuals:

  • Both accounts have not been around for long.
  • They both tweet a storm on a daily basis.
  • They both follow soccer.
  • The descriptions are not too dissimilar, either.

Are these 2 accounts humans or bots? If they are humans, how are they able to tweet every 7 minutes, everyday? 

From the brief analysis above, indications are that many of the “follow me” Twitter accounts use a similar template, which includes amplifying one another.


And oh! I discovered that there are a lot more accounts than I first thought.

Without a doubt, growing followers on social media has become a focus, leading to dedicated accounts being set up, and launching of aggressive campaigns that include prize giveaways to lure new followers.

This type of social media behaviour, where aspiring influencers go to great lengths to grow followers, can be bizarre and (almost) anti-social in itself.

And how are brands contributing to such behaviour?

Is the number of followers the only measure of influence on social media?

My brief analysis indicates that size of followers is the number 1 measure of influence.

Understandably, this metric is visibly displayed for all users on social media.

Thus, it is the most obvious yardstick that brands use to select influencers.

However, it is not the only measure.

Engagement is the second measure of influence

Engagement Rate is used to determine the strength of engagement related to each influencer’s followers.

If influencers’ followers are not engaged, there is very little value they can generate for brands.

SIDE NOTE: There is more than one formula for calculating Engagement Rate. You can read more about it here.

Relevancy is (or should be) the third measure of influence.

This measure is used to ensure best fit by selecting influencers whose social media content themes are/can be aligned to a brand.

In the first eNsight in this 3-part series, I comment on the great alignment between Tastic Rice brand and Somizi – one of South Africa’s celebrities, on the strength of his successful tv cooking show and the recently published cookbook.

Sadly though, it has been my experience that many brands do not use this third  measure as much as they should.

Are brands only happy to go for less robust selection criteria for influencers so as to have a larger pool? 

Have brands fallen prey to “the shinny object” syndrome, or is this an indication of marketers’ laziness or incompetence?

And the goal of being an influencer?

Ching-ching, of course!

KE SHARP, who I can confirm is human and a South African male, has been on Twitter since 2011, and he has also been in the business of growing followers and engagement for the longest time. 

As I noted above, brands are increasingly looking to this form of social media marketing for achieving short-term goals. 

Naturally, enterprising social netizens have spotted this need –  and some from a long time ago – and they have been positioning themselves accordingly.

My impressions?

@KELLSBRL1 is one of the extreme examples of “follow me” accounts that I have come across. 

However, analysing this account reveals that there is a market out there that is creating the incentive for the this type of wrong behaviour.

So, how can brands avoid to drive the wrong behaviours when it comes to influencer marketing?

The race by brands to leverage influencers’ communities has led to unintended consequences, resulting in the creation of accounts such as @KELLSBRL1 and @FcMutuals.

While number of followers will always be part of criteria for selecting influencers, brands need to satisfy themselves that the identified influencers are not bots, and that their followers are also legit. 

Brands must go a step further by adding engagement rates and relevancy to the influencer selection criteria.

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