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The Right Fit took on SBS The Feed reporter with a fake profile, Taryn Williams responds

Brand and talent marketplace The Right Fit has been confirmed as the business which was engaged by SBS reporter Calliste Weitenberg’s fake influencer profile @ThatCoastalGirl in her investigation for The Feed, in an episode that will air next week, Mumbrella can reveal.

Speaking to Mumbrella The Right Fit founder and CEO Taryn Williams, explained that despite The Right Fit’s vetting processes, the account was added to the platform based on the “very low total follower count, and high quality of her real photos and photogenic ability as talent.”

In addition to enabling influencers to find and pick up marketing work for brands, The Right Fit hosts models, actors, hosts, voice over actors, musicians and celebrities which can pick up work at events, professional shoots, production work and advertising.

Taryn Williams

Williams told Mumbrella that the transparency The Right Fit provides its talent, and clients, on both sides of a transaction enables each party to “make informed decisions on who to engage on any campaign”.

“Ideally we’d meet or zoom every single person who applies to join our marketplace. But the reality of a global marketplace, growing at scale, just like Airbnb, Airtasker, or Upwork, the practicalities of that aren’t possible,” Williams said.

The Right Fit has over 17,000 talent profiles and 11,000 clients. The platform has facilitated over 16,000 transactions between brands and talent. Williams is confident in the analytics The Right Fit provides clients regarding followers and engagement rate and said “the fact that this person didn’t book any jobs shows that people do see the importance of looking at the analytics tools, and are becoming more educated on the importance of understanding the complexities of the influencer space”.

SBS journo Calliste Weitenberg as her alter ego @thatcoastalgirl

Weitenberg’s investigation on The Feed, ‘Like, Subscribe, Follow’, began three weeks ago, documenting her entry into the world of influencer marketing with use of a fake profile, fake followers and gaining brand deals that advised her not to disclose the content is an advertisement.

Williams agreed the reporting done by SBS into the industry is worthwhile, but suggested a missing piece of the puzzle is the involvement of social media platforms in authenticating and regulating users.

“Do I think it was the best use of taxpayer money to fund this for six months to learn that people can make fake profiles on Instagram? Probably not. Do I think it’s a shame they didn’t engage with Instagram or Facebook to really learn more about the space and how they plan to prevent people or brands buying followers? Definitely,” Williams said.

“It was an interesting idea for a story, and with better execution I think could have really added value to viewers both as consumers and as marketers.”

The influencer marketing industry is expected to be worth $15 billion by 2022, with $1 invested by brands able to make a return of $18. Williams said as the industry grows at an exponential rate she is “passionate about educating both influencers and brands on how to best navigate this space”.

“If you design a product or business to cater to the lowest common denominator – people who want to lie, cheat, or steal – you’ll never serve the needs of the 99.9% of people who are not this way inclined. We’d never get to have Uber, or a business like Airbnb where strangers stay in your home. And if you are afraid of failure and if you never take risks and if you never try to push the boundaries of what is possible — then you certainly will never succeed in break-through innovation, which is what I strive for in my businesses,” Williams said.

“We will continue to provide detailed analytics to each client on the followers of each influencer including their engagement rate, and any suspicious activity and engagement pod activity, so they can make informed decisions on who to work with. Because marketplaces are built on transparency and trust and we pride ourselves on that at The Right Fit.”

The Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AIMCO), which The Right Fit is not currently a member of, told Mumbrella: “AIMCO is a not for profit industry council established to raise awareness of best practice in influencer marketing and a key pillar is transparency around ad disclosure in order to meet Australian Consumer Law.

“Influencer marketing is a thriving sector and we have a strong cohort of members working with us to educate the industry and the influencers. We encourage all in the influencer marketing community to join us as we recognise the importance of meeting the ACL to protect consumers, industry professionals and influencers.”

UPDATE – 1:37pm 1 April – SBS responded to Mumbrella’s request for comment

It is very much in the public interest for Australians to be aware if something is being advertised to them on social media. The Feed’s investigation highlighted misleading practices being undertaken, exposing who is involved and how that occurs, and the lack of oversight and enforcement of existing regulations in the industry, as well as the adverse impact these practices can have.

The Feed’s fake influencer Instagram account was available on The Right Fit platform for two months and we were able to facilitate deals with a number of brands, including a partnership where we were explicitly told by the brand not to indicate it was advertising or sponsored content, going against industry guidelines and disclosure requirements.

SBS reached out to the Instagram and Facebook platforms as part of the investigation.

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