When it comes to paid marketing channels, influencer marketing tops the list. Today, consumers usually like to do some research before making a purchase decision. Although, for most consumers, seeking the opinions of influencers is usually the case. Their opinions or product reviews influence the purchase decision of the consumers.
So, it’s no surprise that brands are leveraging their influence to reach their target audience and increase sales. But what if the follower base of the influencer your brand has partnered with is fake? To be more precise, what if the influencer is fake and all his/her followers were bought?
Brands all over the world have drastically increased their investment in influencer marketing. After all, the revenue generated from influencer marketing is equal to or more, than other paid marketing channels. But partnering with influencers costs, especially if they have an enormous follower base and are sought after in their industry. But if the influence is fake, all that money goes to waste, because the influencer doesn’t have a genuine and engaging follower base.
Since these influencers have no genuine followers, brands get nothing out of the money they invest in them. Although, it’s not just money. Influencer marketing campaigns require extensive planning, preparation and the dedication of your social media teams. All these resources go to waste, which further leads to setbacks in your marketing plans.
In this piece, we are going to discuss some effective ways to identify fake social media influencers. Let’s get right into it.
The Impact of Influencer Fraud
Being a victim of influencer fraud can be disastrous for brands with the biggest impact being the financials. While major, more influential brands may recover, small and emerging businesses might not be so fortunate. Small businesses have limited resources and influencer fraud can just bleed them dry.
Also, the money isn’t the only thing brands lose. The time spent by your social media team could have been put to better use to drive engagement, boost social media presence, and increase conversions. Fake influencers don’t offer genuine engagement, because they have no genuine followers.
Partnering with influencers can also damage your brand reputation. Users do not consider fake influencers credible, and if your target audience finds that out before you do, they will raise questions about your credibility.
How to Spot Fake Influencers?
Now that you know why influencer fraud is a major concern, let’s dive deeper and discuss ways to identify fake influencers.
Analyze Follower Profiles
The easiest way to identify fake followers in an influencer’s follower base is by checking the follower profiles. You can start by looking for follower profiles that do not have a profile image or a bio. Genuine users customize their user profiles with all relevant details, a profile picture, along with a unique bio.
Follower profiles that do not have the relevant details or even the minimum of a profile image are usually fake followers. If these followers comprise most of the influencer’s follower base, they are most probably fake.
Another thing to note is that fake followers also use images of other genuine profiles. In that case, you can simply perform a Google image search using their profile image to verify their credibility.
Check Follower-Engagement Ratio
The follower-engagement ratio is another important statistic that you can use to gauge the credibility of an influencer. Genuine influencers that have spent time and effort usually have an engaged follower base. So, the first thing that you need to check is how much engagement the influencer gets. If the engagement is poor compared to the size of the audience, it is advisable not to partner with them. Even if the influencer hasn’t intentionally bought followers, poor engagement statistics are not great to start a partnership.
Analyze Engagement Quality
Engagement quality is also an effective way to identify fake influencers. While some only buy followers, others go far as even buying engagement, although the bought engagement is usually generic. Just look at the comments on the influencer’s posts. If most of the comments include “nice”, “looks good”, or “great pic”, the audience is most probably fake.
It’s one way to still identify possible issues even if the influencer buys engagement and passes the follower-engagement ratio test.
Check for Sudden Spikes in Follower Growth
Analyzing the follower growth of influencers can also help you identify fake followers. As fake influencers buy fake followers, their follower count will have sudden spikes showing a drastic increase. Using a third-party analytics tool, you can analyze the follower growth of influencers and identify such sudden spikes. It will help you verify if the influencer has bought fake followers or not.
Look for Bot and Inactive Accounts
In the last decade, every social media platform has witnessed a massive increase in automated bot accounts that inflate the follower counts of users that pay for them. These bots follow multiple accounts but don’t have many followers themselves. Therefore, you can use the follower-following ratio to identify automated bot accounts.
We can also conclude a high number of inactive accounts means fake followers for the obvious reason that the user/follower no longer uses the account or the social platform itself. The other reason is that Twitter has been updating its algorithm which has led to multiple bot accounts being abandoned because of the security updates.
Influencer fraud is a major concern for brands and marketers, but by analyzing the right metrics, you can identify them with ease. The foremost thing that you need to do after you identify them is to avoid partnering with them. You can also create a blacklist so you don’t have to do it all over again.
Another thing to note is that manually analyzing followers is not always possible. Imagine going through millions of social media accounts. Sounds exhausting, right? In such cases, you can use a third-party tool like FollowerAudit to identify fake followers for you.