With the growth of Influencer Marketing, brands are investing more and more on Influencers to engage the target audience. But with every new trend, there are people who try to exploit the same to earn more money. Fake influencers are people whose followers are mostly bots or are inorganic followers (followers purchased). These influencers basically lack a genuine influence over the audience as most of the comment, likes or shares are purchased.
Unilever CMO Keith Weed has raised a concern and has stated recently, “Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback, and we could very quickly see the whole influencer space be undermined. There are lots of great influencers out there, but there are a few bad apples spoiling the barrel and the trouble is, everyone goes down once the trust is undermined.” He emphasized on the fact that Influencer Marketing is not only having a large number of followers but having quality and relevant engagements and impacts.
There are ways to track down fake influencers.
- Verified Account
Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat influential people have verified account. The information is displayed beside the account using a small blue tick or any other emoji. These help the brand to verify an account.
Any social media verifies accounts of only celebrities, big brands, and major influencers. But with the increasing concept of Micro-Influencers(having 10,000 to 1,00,000 followers) and Nano Influencers(less than 10,000 followers) using verified account to detect fake influencers is difficult. As most social media platforms do not verify these accounts. Hence we need to use certain other criteria for examining fake accounts.
- Community Growth
Usually, brands believe more number of followers means more influence over her / his audiences by the influencer. Is that really so?
You can buy followers for your account to make brands believe that you are popular. Spend certain dollars to buy hundred of likes or followers for your account. In recent times purchase of fake followers, likes or views have increased for all the social media platforms. The concept of “Click Farms” or “Follower Factories” are on rising who provides the influencers with bots or fake accounts to increase their followers.
A sudden spike in follower count without a valid reason shows that the followers are mostly brought or are bots. Usually, a real influencer account will have stable and smooth growth rate. Her/His number of followers increases with time. A sudden increase in followers account like 10,000 audiences in one day and then drop in the count the next day is quite fishy.
Use tools like Social Blade, Influencer DB to track the growth of followers or likes for your influencer accounts.
There are sudden spikes in the follower count and then a sharp decrease the next month and then remains stagnant and again sharp increase. Isn’t it abnormal?
Look into the profiles of the subscribers. Isn’t it bit odd that most of the subscriber’s profiles are without any photos, or an incomplete account or have no followers of their own? Invest some time in looking into your influencer’s subscribers and decide whether the influencer is fake or real.
- Engagement Rate
An influencer might have more than 10000 followers but her/his number of likes or comments are low. Why is that?
It is important to look into the engagement rate. It means the number of interactions a social media account earns in relation to the number of followers; interactions being likes, shares comments, etc.
If the engagement rate is low irrespective of the number of audiences then the influencer is buying followers or using bots to increase followers count.
To calculate the engagement rate for a particular post divide the total number of interactions for that post by the total number of audiences and multiply the result with 100.
To calculate daily engagement ration divide the total number of engagement in a day divided by the total number of post and multiply the result with 100.
But calculating Engagement rate is complicated so instead of that look for the Engagement Quality.
- Engagement Quality
If a fake influencer can buy followers then why not engagement? There are sites that sell likes for a few dollars or a simple program can help the influencer to increase her/ his post-interaction.
Go through the comments, to analyze the content. Observe whether the comment is relevant to the topic discussed or is it only few emojis or a more generic comment. A generic comment is a one-word content like wow, good shot, awesome, etc. Now, these are fake engagements.
If you notice conversations taking place in the comments sections, or followers are tagging their friends, then the account is authentic as well as the interactions.
Although sometimes a conversation may only consist of generic comments or use of emojis but you can find only few of these. Along with it you will also get personalized comments or emojis relevant to the post .
- Look for other Social Media Accounts
Most influencers will not limit themselves to only one social media platforms. Their accounts can be found in numerous other platforms. While connecting with an influencer in Instagram check for her/his presence in youtube or facebook.
Brands can also do a simple google search to see whether the account is fake or not. A real influencer on google search will produce varied results depending on her/ his interactions and engagement with the audience. But if its fake then the results will almost be the same.
There are various tools brands can use to verify whether an influencer account is fake or real. Try tools like InfluencerDB for finding creators and influencers important to your brand as well as to calculate their engagement rate, or SocialBaker to looks for ideal influencers not only based on the audience size but their engagement and ability to interact with their followers.
These are some few steps one can follow to check on fake influencers. As soon as you get to know about a fake account keep a note of it and make sure not to connect with the account the next time you are searching for an influencer for your industry.
Crossed path with a fake Influencer account? How did you spot the fake account? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.
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