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How to spot fake social media influencers?

15 Jul

A few tips to help you spot fake influencers and avoid wasting your time, resources, and money.

Over the last few years, influencer marketing has grown into a powerful marketing tool that lets brands reach a wider audience, potential customers, promote their products more effectively, and increase brand awareness. People trust online reviews from influential social media figures as much as their friends and family. A study by Rakuten found that 80% of consumers have purchased something via an influencer recommendation. However, influencer marketing has its drawbacks, and influencer fraud is one of them.

So how do you spot a fake influencer? Here’re a few tips on how to detect them.

Who are fake influencers?

Fake influencers are users whose social media accounts are engaged in some form of fraudulent activity and are mainly made up of bots or fake accounts. The most common tactics used include purchasing followers, likes, comments, story views to boost the number count.

Signs of fake influencers

‘Unusual’ spikes in followers

When an authentic influencer grows their following naturally, usually they experience a gradual increase. Some deviations may be a result of influencer content going viral. Otherwise, dramatic and sudden follower increases overnight or within a day or two can be a sign that followers have been bought.

 

Engagement quality

Social media engagement measures the interaction between the customer and the brand through likes, comments, tags, shares, etc. Since the majority of influencer imposters’ followers are fake, their engagement quality is low.

Calculate influencers’ ER manually, and if the rate is higher or lower than the industry average in relation to total followers, that may indicate that the engagement has been bought. 

Fake followers and bots don’t usually engage with content, but if they do, it looks spammy. Some fake accounts even use engagement pod — a group of people who trade post comments & likes to bring up their engagement rate.

 

Spammy & Irrelevant Comments

A quick and easy way to spot a fake engagement is going through the comments to notice whether they’re relevant to the content. Generic comments like ‘nice’, ‘great pic’, or tons of emoji-only comments — all of it might be signs of a bot comment.

 

Disproportionate Activity 

A fake influencer tends to create a bot that follows a sufficient number of people, posts some content, and makes some actions for a few days to make it look genuine. But then they stop and have no action at all, relying on people not checking their accounts and unfollowing them. 

Also, check whether the channel participated in recent giveaways, if so, then keep in mind that it can lead to unfollowing and inflated levels of engagement. 

 

Buying YouTube Views

Speaking of YouTube, check the influencers’ video views to subscriber ratio — the ratio of the number of views to the number of channel subscribers. The low rate may indicate a fake number of views. 

Wrapping up

Influencer marketing is a great tool to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and boost sales. But before launching an influencer marketing campaign, take your time and find the right influencer, look closely at their social media accounts and analyze their engagement quality. Interacting with fake influencers can hit your marketing and brand budget, cause a waste of time, and damage your brand reputation. Once you’ve identified a fake influencer, add them to a ‘blacklist’ so you can avoid collaboration with them in the future.