How to Detect Fake Instagram Influencers

And possibly save yourself from a campaign nightmare.

Working with an influencer is a great way for brands to expand their audience and increase their social footprint.

With the decline of broadcast and other traditional forms of media and the rise of digital, influencer marketing has become a top priority for brands looking to engage new customers. Unfortunately, in addition to the increasing popularity of influencers, fake and/or fraudulent influencers accounts have also become more prevalent.

In an attempt to build a bigger following and appear more desirable to brands looking to sponsor paid content, some accounts have gone to the extreme of purchasing followers and engagements—such as likes and comments—from companies or individuals that manage and run fake Instagram accounts. Therefore, although it may seem that a particular influencer has gained a few thousand followers in a short amount of time, their following is actually composed primarily of follower bots that have been purchased illegally.

 

 

When influencers purchase engagements from fraudulent services, it boosts their Instagram account metrics and gives them the appearance of a successful and engaging account, when in reality, it isn’t. And when it comes time to deliver campaign metrics, these fake accounts will fall well below the benchmark on their targeted KPIs.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for brands to have been fooled by such accounts. These illegal bot organisations offer extensive services to portray their fake accounts as being credible and authentic by tapping into analytics and increase a purchaser’s Instagram stats tenfold without seeming suspicious. Depending on the sophistication of a fake follower service, bots, and the influencers purchasing them, can be incredibly convincing, especially to unsuspecting brands.

Here are some tips to avoid engaging a fraudulent influencer:

 

1. Check Out Their Followers 

Before reaching out to a potential influencer for your campaign, have a look through their account to check and see if they have fake followers, and if so, do these fake accounts make up majority of their followers. Detecting fake followers is quite easy to figure out and can be quickly vetted. For example, if the follower doesn’t post much content, is relatively inactive, only posts spam comments and runs an account without a profile or much info in their bio, they are most likely a fake or bot profile.

 

2. Check Out Their Follower Engagements

If an influencer’s account has a couple thousand followers, then it would be expected that their engagements be proportional to that. Brands are able to figure this out by comparing the number of followers to the number of likes, comments, and overall engagements the influencer receives on average. For example, Instagram accounts with a large number of followers and very low engagement rates tend to have a major following of inauthentic followers. You can easily calculate the engagement rates for an account simply by dividing the total number of likes and comments by the total number of followers. You can then use these numbers as a benchmark for checking follower engagements. Even if the engagement checks out, be sure to look through their followers and comments to confirm that the account has not been purchased.

 

3. Google Them

When in doubt, Google it! If you are unsure of the influencer, do a quick search of them to see how prominent they are, or if they are even authentic in the first place. Popular influencers tend to be active across more than one social media platform beyond Instagram, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, a personal blog page, etc., so they will show up across multiple platforms.

When searching an influencer online, note whether they have other social channels, a central website/blog, and/or interviews or press with legitimate publications.

 

4. Inspect Their Follower Growth 

Authentic influencer accounts typically grow at a steady and consistent pace. If there happens to be a huge spike of followers within a short period of time, then that could be a sign that they may have engaged a company to boost their analytics. You can easily check for unusual spikes of followers through online platforms such as Social Blade.

 

5. Engage in an Automated Tool

If searching through followers and comparing engagement rates manually isn’t the right fit for you, there are some online tools available that can help determine whether an influencer’s followers are legit. This way, you will be able to access reports on an influencer’s follower activity and check to see if it is indeed authentic or clearly paid for. Platforms such as FollowerCheck and Social Audit Pro offer services that provide follower analytics for Instagram accounts, completing a full audit on it.

Hopefully with these tips, you’ll be able to sniff out any fake accounts that come your way. And when in doubt, engage Indie Collaborates for our growing and carefully curated selection of influencers to engage in a variety of areas for your next campaign!

 

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