How to identify fake influencer profiles

How to identify fake influencer profiles

Learn how to detect fake social media influencers with this easy guide.

Allisa Lindo
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Influencer marketing is one of the most efficient and trusted forms of marketing. We are definitely big fans of it, which is why we talk about it so much (ha!). Social media influencers are great messengers, but with anything that offers a chance for monetary success, there are a few people who cheat the system. These cheaters buy followers and likes in an attempt to look like real influencers.

In this post, we get into detail to show you how to identify fake influencers and ensure you only work with legitimate creators.

  1. Spikes in follower growth. Follower spikes are expected when an influencer's content goes viral. But if a creator's follower growth looks more like a staircase instead of a curve, that's an immediate red flag. Big jumps in follows with no clear reason behind the jump usually means that user has purchased followers. 

  2. Lots of likes but no comments. At first glance, posts with a lot of likes looks like a good thing but likes don't always indicate meaningful engagement. Click on a few posts and see what kind of comments followers are leaving. If most posts have no likes, then you can be sure the followers have been paid for. This is also true for low quality comments. What are low quality comments, you ask? Comments that are mostly emojis or things like "nice" "cool" or "love" are another good indication the followers are not genuine.

  3. Low quality content. Real influencers care about the quality their posts. If you are on someone's social media profile and you find yourself repeatedly thinking "this is a terrible picture" or "what is the point of this post?" then there is a good chance that person isn't legitimate. When low quality posts are combined with high engagement rates on the content, that makes no sense at all. Don't waste anymore time on that profile and move on.

  4. No one knows how they got famous. Every influencer becomes well-known to their audience for a reason. So one question to ask yourself is "how did this person become famous?" If no one has an answer to that question, not even almighty Google, then swipe left on that influencer. Many influencers are active on multiple social media sites. If the influencer you are researching is only active on one, that may also indicate they aren't 100% real.

  5. No available analytics. You've followed all the other tips but you still aren't sure? Then it's time to reach out and make contact. When talking with the influencer always ask for analytics of their accounts. All of the major influencer platforms have audience statistics available for influencers. If the person is not willing to share this information with you, then do not continue the conversation.

Bonus tip: Social Blade offers a free tool to track analytics for users on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch. You can access some of the metrics we discussed in this post such as follower count over time.

Using Social Blade's free tool we can run through a quick example.

fake influencers, fake followers
Source: Social Blade

The graph above from Social Blade is a perfect example of what we discussed in Tip 1. It is clear exactly when this account purchased followers because of the staircase pattern in the graph. Below you can see the same information broken down by exact dates. 

fake influencers
Source: Social Blade

The addition of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of followers in one day does not match up with any significant event for this social media user. None of their posts went viral and looking directly on the page, there is no content that stands out on those dates. In fact much of the pictures posted by this account have poor pixel quality.

Now that you have our tips, you're ready to go and launch your next successful influencer marketing campaign!

Hey we've covered this topic before! This post is an expanded version of our previous post How to spot fake Instagram influencers. Check out that post for an example of sniffing out fake influencers on Instagram.