Our irregular guide to the most interesting things happening in the world of advocacy marketing

Employee perks at a 12-year low

The total number of people receiving taxable job perks from their employer fell 600,000 to 3.6 million in the last year, the lowest point since 2007. The reason? Corporations are cutting costs as a response to the threat of economic uncertainty from the 2008 crisis and, more recently, Brexit. Confusion around which of these perks are tax-exempt has also likely pushed a lot of small businesses to leave employee perks in the past. When done right, employee perks can slow turnover and encourage staff performance. However, it looks like many businesses are viewing the cost and hassle as too high to justify the gains.
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Is Instagram’s removal of its ‘like’ counter a turning point in social media?

What would Instagram be without the likes? Certain countries around the world are about to find out, as Instagram kicks off another international test of its platform with the number of likes hidden to everyone but the user. The test will take place in Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries. Canada has already been like-less since May. While mental health advocates say this is a step in the right direction, influencers rely on likes to gauge the popularity of their posts and show engagement with followers. Instagram claims this change shouldn’t affect how businesses measure ROI, but it might get a little harder to see how well your new Instagram ad or sponsored post is doing if this test becomes a permanent feature
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Influencer marketing spend grows 83%

Influencer marketing is on the rise. According to Instascreener, an influencer marketing measurement company, influencer ads have seen an 83% year-over-year increase from last year. Brands actually spent $442 million on influencer marketing in the second quarter of 2019 alone, and $314 million of that total went just to Instagram. However, influencer marketing isn’t without its problems. Authorities are trying to discover new ways to regulate these ads, and fake followers are a growing problem (see below). So why are companies turning to influencer marketing? Well, research shows customers remain more likely to remember an influencer’s sponsored post over a random commercial. And that’s why you’ll likely be seeing more and more #ADs as you scroll through your feed.
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Five stars or fake? How to beat fraudulent online reviews

It’s estimated that 75% of people read customer reviews before buying a product. However, shoppers are starting to doubt their trustworthiness as the number of fake reviews rises. Fake reviews look just like any other glowing praise, but are often paid for by the business or manufacturer themselves. Consumer watchdog Which? found tens of thousands of unverified reviews (a review created by someone who didn’t buy the product) on Amazon in 2019. So what can consumers do? Experts recommend looking out for products or services with lots of five-star ratings in a short period of time, reading the actual written review (not just looking at the star ratings), filtering for verified reviews, and checking other reviewers’ history before trusting them.
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Word-of-mouth marketing: how to radically boost success

It turns out that helping customers help others can really pay off. New research from the University of Minnesota found that offers which allowed customers to give incentives to their family and friends increased both word-of-mouth referrals and the conversion rate of new customers by 86%. Researchers learned that, when given the chance to pay it forward, customers felt less guilty, and were therefore more likely to refer people. So next time you’re thinking of rewarding your loyal customers, maybe let them hand out the rewards instead.
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Fake followers cost brands $1.3bn a year

We already know that brands are spending more and more on influencers. But how much of your money is actually reaching real potential customers? A new report by a cybersecurity company calculated that the use of fake followers costs advertisers $1.3 billion a year. That’s 15% of all ad dollars spent on influencer marketing. And this number is only expected to go up. But what’s causing this rise? As the number of influencers rises, along with the amount of money spent on influencer marketing and new influencer tech platforms, so does follower fraud. One of the leaders of the report, economist Robert Cavazos, summed it up: “Fraud follows money and complexity, and this market is seeing more of both”.
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