Fakes and posers—how to see through influencer fraud

by | Apr 26, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

Can you tell the real influencers from the fake when you’re scrolling through Instagram? Unless you know what you are looking for, the fakes can be difficult to identify.

A classic model that influencer marketing follows is that the amount of pay an influencer receives should be equivalent to the amount of followers they have. However, with advanced algorithms and technology, people have figured out how to cheat the follower metrics, turning into influencers overnight.

Below we highlight three simple checks you can take to ensure your influencers’ followings are as authentic as they’re promoting:

Check 1: Ratio of followers and following

One of the first checks should be to look at how many followers the account has and how many accounts it is following. If the following and followers are relatively the same numbers, start questioning its authenticity. There are multiple platforms out there that will enable users to follow thousands of accounts, with the aim to get these accounts to follow back.

Check 2: Do their followers engage with the content?

Unfortunately, you will have to do some legwork to get this information, but the results can be eye opening. An account may have a lot of followers, but if nobody engages with it, the impact of your paid-for campaigns is negated. Like the technology that enables fake followers, some platforms also generate fake engagement.

Fake comments can involve a generic phrase or emoji that doesn’t directly address the content of the post. For example, a string of emojis or characters; a generic word like ‘fire’ or ‘love’; a phrase that doesn’t make sense either on its own or when applied to the post. On the other side of this, genuine comments tend to directly address the content of the post.

Be careful to check a good sample size of the influencer’s audience you are vetting. One or two fake comments can be expected if they are of a certain size and it’s not necessarily comments that have been commissioned by the influencer.

Check 3: Quality comes before quantity

Marketers from all areas of the discipline have been shouting this from the rooftops since the internet turned their world upside down. Look for an influencer who is producing thoughtful content that addresses what their followers want. An influencer that puts time and effort into their posts is a good sign that they are focused on building genuine relationships with their followers rather than building up numbers through bots.

Technology has simultaneously provided the ability for individuals to “fake” followers, also enabling us to detect it. While influencer marketing continues its rapid growth, we predict, sometime soon, the technology to combat authenticity will catch up as well.

Nothing boosts exposure and brand awareness quite like well targeted, specifically designed marketing campaigns that reach the audience you want to connect with. If you’re looking for a new way to power your digital marketing strategy and smash your targets, then influencer marketing could well be the secret weapon you need.

Edward East
Edward East is an experienced Digital Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment and marketing industry. Strong entrepreneurship professional skilled in Digital Strategy, Influencer Marketing, Management, and Start-ups.


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