How to Determine if an Influencer’s Followers are Fake

Influencer marketing has fast become a vital pillar of digital marketing and being able to spot influencers with fake followers has become a crucial component in a successful strategy. As campaigns spread throughout the globe, marketers must ensure that they are investing in long-term influencer partnerships based on genuine engagements. Because influencer marketing is based on trust, spotting fake followers is the first line of defense against fraud and misrepresentation.

Creators have opened new opportunities for brands trying to expand their online presence and boost sales by building a large following and social impact.

As we all know, not all influencers have earned their followers. A few influencers have purchased fake followers (accounts and bots) who follow and interact with an influencer's posts but are not real people or fans. This is extremely harmful to an influencer's credibility and authenticity, not to mention a costly blunder for marketers! Let's go through what brands need to know to check for fake followers and identify the most valued influencers in order to prevent dangerous influencer investments.

How to Check for Fake Followers Manually

Any like or comment an influencer gets from a fake follower is blatantly useless. There is no genuine audience interested in your items behind thousands of likes and/or comments. Therefore, marketers should avoid investing in influencers that have many fake followers. One of the most crucial aspects of influencer marketing is finding genuine influencers that have a genuine relationship with their audiences. When searching for influencers with whom to cooperate, we recommend looking for the following characteristics:

Engagement Rate: Very Low or Very High

Influencers with a significant following may appear genuine at first glance. Many of these followers, however, may be purchased, and these purchases could include both actual people and bots/fake accounts. Instagram has attempted to curb this trend by barring suspicious activity (a huge number of likes or follows in a single day), but many people continue to slip through the cracks.

Analysis of engagement data is an excellent place to start, as low or high rates can suggest bogus accounts. The engagement rate is calculated using the formula: (number of engagements/number of followers x 100). A low engagement rate of less than 1% could potentially indicate fraudulent followers. This occurs when an influencer has a large number of followers but few actual interactions, likes, or comments since the followers are not real people! It's reasonable to assume that at least 1% of an influencer's audience is actively engaged with their postings.

Be aware of extremely high engagement rates, as this could imply that influencers are buying likes and comments to artificially increase interaction. This type of behavior can be detected by the number of likes or engagements on each post. Because they need a larger number of individuals to continuously engage with their material, having a large number of followers dilutes an influencer's overall engagement rate. If you notice an unusually high engagement rate, it could be a clue that an influencer is buying bots and fake followers to inflate their engagement rate.

Comments that are spammy and irrelevant

It's a good idea to look at the comments area to see if an influencer has real followers. This provides a wealth of qualitative information about who and how they engage with one another. Genuine comments will usually directly mention the text or respond to previous comments in the thread. Fake followers and bots are generally the source of spam or out-of-place comments.

Here are some red flags to look out for:
• Comments containing only emoticons and no context.
• Repetitive, brief, and popular expressions (e.g., "wow!," "amazing!," "sweet pic!!," etc.)
• Comments that are irrelevant or out of context (for example, "you look so great!" on a photo of food).

The real accounts that make these remarks should be checked last: They usually have few or no followers, have generic or random Instagram handles, no bios, and are frequently private profiles - all of which are dead giveaways for bots! 

Number of Followers to Number of Followed

Another readily observable measure is the ratio of followers to followers (The number of accounts someone follows versus the number of accounts who follow them.) A genuine influencer account should have a lot more than a following.

Inauthentic influencers typically have an equal number of followers/followers, and there are a variety of reasons behind this. Many people seek out other accounts to "follow for follow" (f4f) or "shoutout for shoutout" (s4s) in order to gain more followers (s4s). While this boosts their number of followers, their fan base has no bearing on the content of their account.

Smartfluence Authenticity Checker

Smartfluence’s influencer discovery platform allows users to see an influencer's social media performance and do a fake follower check on their chosen influencers on Instagram. Our algorithm considers the follower base, engagements, paid post performance, whether followers have posts, pictures, followers of their own, etc., and even cross references with a huge database of known bot accounts. Our platform automatically filters low authenticity accounts out such that you’ll never be recommended an influencer with a large percentage of fake followers. Our database of over 100M Instagram influencers does still allow you to spot check for any influencer you’re interested in, regardless of their authenticity, so you can see everything you’ve ever wanted to learn about them.

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You can also obtain extremely relevant results on YouTube by searching with hashtags. To make their material more discoverable, many creators may include crucial hashtags in the video description or title. You're extremely likely to find content from related YouTube creators if you look through the results of your hashtag search. You’ll notice plenty of brands use branded hashtags which their influencers in turn use to help classify their posts. Here’s an example below: