Are Influencer Pods legit?


Our region has gone nuts with influencer marketing. Just recently, Dubai-based Huda Kattan topped the first ever Instagram Rich List and became the highest-earning influencer on Instagram universe. She is supposedly earning AED 66,000 per sponsored post, though we can vouch that many Kuwaiti fashion influencers aren’t much behind in this race.

When an influencer like Huda Kuttan can shut down Dubai Mall, it is probably money well spent for the brand marketer.

At CORRECT, we have a different take on this. We are strong believers in the persuasion power of power users (5000- 50,000 followers) and to a large extend, micro-influencers (500-5000 followers). They invest time and effort in driving engagement. Consumers trust and act upon recommendations from this group while the super stars like Huda Kuttan promise great amplification. Again, your approach would depend on the objective of the activity.

If you want direct sales, stick to the micro and power users. We recently did a sales-led campaign for Turkish modest fashion giant, using some power users in the region. The short campaign gave 150+ direct sales during the busy Ramadan period driven by just Instagram engagement. You can read the case study here.

Let’s get back to the topic of this post – Influencer Pods and its legitimacy. Now, influencer pods are groups of Instagrammers who work with each other to comment and like each other’s posts. They increase the ‘engagement numbers’ with an informal ‘you scratch mine, I scratch your’s’ attitude, while hacking Instagram’s algorithm and any surface level due diligence carried out by brands trying to engage a member of their ‘pod’. You won’t be wrong if you call them ‘instagangs’.

Many influencers in the region use pods and say it’s totally legit. Bloggers have done the same circa 90s and 00s, and now influencers are doing it. For us, this is a red flag and we try to stay away from such attempts to fool dollars from our clients. Unfortunately, this is fast becoming the new normal.

The good old golden days when influencer marketing was called ‘a program’ are over. It is an ‘influencer activity’ these days. Brands have stopped approaching influencers based on affinity to build an authentic relationship over time with mutual passion and shared interests.

Side note: there are various ways to figure out ‘bots or bought’ for an experienced eye. It is in these influencer’s best interest to engage with real audience. The way things are moving, Instagangs will kill their own goose.

Let us know your thoughts on instagangs in the comments section. Have you encountered any such gangs in your interaction with influencers from the region?