Most Common Myths on How to Spot Fake Influencers, Debunked

Anna Komok

Anna is the Head of Marketing and PR at HypeAuditor, the most accurate and in-depth Instagram and YouTube analytics tool on the market. She is passionate about influencer marketing and Instagram analytics.

A year ago Mediakix agency came up with this experiment: they created two accounts on Instagram, they filled both of them with a bunch of free stock photos and bought followers. In the span of the next six months, each account had circa 40-60K followers and brands knocking at the door to offer sponsored posts.

Most of the advertisers wouldn’t bother to waste their time looking at the bloggers’ stats. The only thing that drives them is the content, which is sure enough pretty. However, it’s all about sales increase, not breathtaking, eye-catching, awe-inspiring but nothing but photos.

We decided to run a poll and asked more than 150 bloggers about their work with companies. The results showed that about 85% of the brands would refrain from asking for the account statistics, and the other 15% would be just fine with the screenshots from the Insights page or Media Kit data.Click To Tweet

The companies are increasing their budget costs on the influencer marketing, and these numbers are steep enough already; along with that, a new industry is growing in leaps and bounds – a purchase of fake followers and likes. Things inevitably go from bad to worse for people trying to spot fake influencers, and this is where the special instruments cut in. For instance, HypeAuditor uses machine learning to identify fake followers and likes.

Some of the advertisers and even influencer marketing specialists believe you can spot bad bloggers without breaking a sweat by just looking at them. In this article, we are going to prove them wrong and break down the most popular myths about fake and real influencers.

Myth 1: Verified Account is a Guarantee That the Influencer is Authentic

Instagram tends to verify brands, celebrities, let alone even official influencers. With this badge, Instagram thereby confirms that the account is authentic and belongs to celebrity or brand. What this blue tick won’t tell is whether its followers are quality or not.

Have a look at this account:

Most Common Myths on How to Spot Fake Influencers, Debunked

And here are the numbers taken from HypeAuditor:

Audience Quality Score and audience demographics of influencers

Indeed, the account belongs to a media personality; hence the verified badge. But more than half of the followers are the low-quality audience.

Myth 2: Great Photos and Captions Make Quality Audience

When an influencer makes a new account on Instagram in order to make money hand over fist, he or she will definitely invest in beautiful photos since it’s the first and by and large the only thing advertisers would consider.

Audience Quality Score and audience insights of an Instagram influencer

These are the numbers for the account of a U.S. woman with 287k followers, stunning pictures of herself, profound captions and meaningful comments under posts.

A major bottleneck is that both followers and likes are low-quality. And all the meaningful comments are there only thanks to the comments pods.

Myth 3. Mentions Quality

All the bloggers are a part of the community, and so they liaise with each other. It is believed that if other influencers mentioned you in their posts, then you are authentic. Far from it. Two things to consider:

  • Instagram instruments cannot search by mentions; you will have to rely on third-party apps to analyze the mentions quality.
  • Bloggers often like to use Shoutouts in their promotion campaigns. Facebook is inundated with groups, where people are searching for bloggers for “shoutout for shoutout” exchange. Needless to say, they will always take the soft option, never thinking of the audience’s quality of each other.

Myth 4: Nice and Steady Followers’ Growth Graph Means the Influencer Is Real

Reviewing the followers’ growth graphs may be the most popular way to spot fake influencers, popularity-wise. Sharp skyrocketing jump of numbers might show that the blogger simply picked his followers up. But at the same time, it might be the result of a successful marketing campaign held. For more information, you might want to read this.

There are times you see a smooth, accurate graph with no odd spikes and you start thinking the blogger is as innocent as a babe.

Like in this graph, there are no irregular bumps in the followers’ growth:

Abnormal spikes in follower growth of an Instagram influencers

Well, guess what, this is the very same account we’ve shown you before. Almost every follower is low-quality, more than 9 in 10 in fact.

Myth 5. High Engagement Rate Means the Blogger is Real

As a rule of thumb, the purchased followers barely interact with the content of the blogger, and the Engagement Rate will eventually go belly up. But at the same time, even with high ER numbers, you cannot be 100% sure the likes and comments are real.

Take the ER of our old friend as an example: it’s 2.57%, good numbers for a blogger with 287k followers.

Engagement Rate of Instagram influencers

However, less than a quarter of likes and comments come from real followers. 3 in 4 are made by bot accounts.

Checking authenticity of Instagram influencers

Myth 6. Good Video Views to Followers Ratio Indicates Real Influencer

 Analyzing video views on Instagram posts is one of the popular methods to spot influencer fraud.  Some marketers think, if the views on an influencer post are significantly lower than the total number of followers, an influencer has fake followers. That’s true, but good views to followers ratio don’t mean that followers are real. Why?

There are a lot of services where you can buy followers, likes and even video views:

Examples of services where you can buy Instagram followers

Keep your eyes open and stop relying only on your spider-sense, pretty pics, and unique comments. What you want to do instead is tell your target audience about your product or brand. With this in mind, you need to have a good understanding of who might see your post, or will they be able to see it at all.

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