How to use Instagram for business – Part 3

Part three – How To Identify Fake Influencers On Instagram

Being an Instagram influencer has become more and more difficult, it is indeed a real job, and some people just prefer to go for the “easy” way: buying followers, likes and comments. It takes time, consideration, planning and execution strategies to be in place. It’s not a snap and post game!

“Fake” influencers work with brands that don’t even know that all their engagement is fake, what I mean is, some ‘influencers’ are not actually sponsored by the brands they promote, but they make it look that way by hash-tagging  them. A serious brand would ensure their offerings are being marketed by the right person, to the right people.


Why should you be wary of them?

It’s important that you understand the impact fake followers and influencers who buy fake engagement have on your brand. These red herrings are capable of hurting your business in a number of ways.

The effect they have is much like that of the fraudulent page views and clicks that hit the display advertisement industry. Bots, fake followers, and false engagement are bleeding brands and marketers for millions of euros.

Fake influencers are doing nothing for your business except fluffing up your follower numbers and engagement rates. They are lulling you into a false sense of security. While those numbers may be on the rise, they’ll almost never culminate into anything substantial.

As a result of fake influencers, the efficacy of influencer marketing as an effective marketing strategy is diminishing considerably. Not to mention tarnishing the reputation of genuine influencers on social media.

As a brand, you definitely don’t want to associate yourself with such influencers. Nor do you want to waste your money on them. You need to know how to properly vet your candidates and weed out the fake ones. So here’s how you can go about spotting them.

The alert triggers to look out for:

  • Abnormally low commitment rate (less than 2%): for example, if an account has got 100K followers and only 2000 likes, this account is fake, the person is buying followers and likes.
  • Comments that are reduced to onomatopoeia or emoji: there are apps selling comments, it is usually only emojis or short words, if you look at the geographical positions of the people who comments, you will know that they’re fake.
  • Influencer management tools or platforms can help you analyze various aspects of an influencer’s account. One way of discerning whether the influencer is fake or real is by doing a little research into their followers. Try to check the locations his followers are based out of. If most of their followers belong to one area, it’s likely that you have a fake influencer on your hands. Also, bots generally do not provide locations. So, if there is no clarity on where most of an influencer’s followers are from, be cautious.
    For example, high share of the audience based in exotic countries ( and I don’t mean local in this case ) means that the influencer buys followers.
  • Be wary of newer accounts that have high follower count: It takes time to impress followers and grow a following organically. If you see an account which is fairly new but has managed to get a sizable following, be cautious. Unless they’re a well-known celebrity, it’s not easy to get thousands of followers in a short span of time.So it’s quite likely that these accounts have gained their followers by purchasing them. Some brands focus solely on the number of followers when they try to identify potential influencers. If you go by just the follower count, you can easily end up collaborating with fake influencers.
  • Non-linear evolution of the subscriber base: with HypeAuditor, you can check the analytics of every Instagram account, it is a simple way to know the days when people got followed the most… on the profile of the fake influencers, you will probably see days without any new followers and days 500 followers more joining the party.
  • Snoop around online: Yes, Google might yet again come to your rescue and help you filter through your candidates. A quick search on it and you’ll get a reasonably good idea of the influencer’s authority on social media channels.Look up the value of their earned media, their backlinks, and mentions. A good way to establish their authority is to check out the sites they may have published guest posts on. Even if their following on social media isn’t as big as you’d hoped, their general online presence is an indicator of their authenticity.Look up their already existing content on social media for posts tagged as #ad or #sponsored. This way you can check out the brands they’ve previously collaborated with. Which will help you gauge whether or not the person promotes things that are of actual value to their audience. Or are they the kind who will promote anything and everything.
  • Check out of always the same subscribers (aside from their parents and best friends) who comment and like: the “pods” is a new technique for those fake influencers. They create a group chat with other influencers to comment and like their posts, it helps beating the new Instagram algorithm, but it is cheating.

With these tricks to spot a fake influencer, make sure your brand is dilligent about the accounts they want to work with so they won’t waste money with a fake or ‘wannabe’ influencer.

For successful influencer marketing, it’s important to find the right influencers for your brand and budget. You need to be clear about the goals and objectives that you are trying to achieve.

Fake influencers will simply eat away your budgets without giving you any significant returns. So it is important that you analyze the profiles of your potential influencers properly. Following the tactics mentioned above can help you weed out fake influencers and collaborate with real influencers.

Do you have any more ideas or tips about spotting a fake influencer? We would love to hear from you, so let us know in the comments below.


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Monique Chambers

Monique started succeed in 2018 and indulge in 2011. She has published two apps; Indulge Me GIFT and Indulge Me FOOD and volume 1 of The Artists Directory - Malta, as well as an audio book, Table 7. A PR and Marketing professional by trade with a Masters in Entrepreneurship, Monique's passion is to promote local talent and Malta in general.