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How to spot fake followers?

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When looking for a suitable influencer for a marketing campaign, people are greatly influenced by numbers, but numbers are not a 100% guarantee of a successful campaign. Influencer marketing has proven itself as an effective way of reaching potential customers, which has caused its rapid growth and popularity. Unfortunately, along with the new trend in marketing came an undesirable effect, namely the emergence of untrustworthy influencers who built their position on Instagram through fake followers. Therefore, if you are thinking about working with an influencer, it is important to avoid profiles with purchased followers, and we will show you how.


Before we show you how to recognize an untrustworthy profile, it is important to have a clear idea of who it is. This phenomenon became especially popular on Instagram, where users began to buy followers. An untrusted influencer is a larger Instagram user who appears to be a real influencer. He publishes very high quality posts that are not too different from real influencers. However, the main difference is that his audience is mostly made up of fake accounts and bots. In other words, he has no influence on the real audience and working with such an influencer would only throw you away money in the trash.


Buying followers and pretending to be someone you're not on social media is simply a scam, and working with untrustworthy influencers can be very damaging to your brand. Such "influencers" can cost you a lot of money that you will never see again. At first glance, they will do a good job and meet the agreed terms, but how are they promoting your brand to an audience full of fake accounts and bots, your company will only get an increase in costs instead of an increase in sales from this cooperation.


Now that you understand what we mean by untrustworthy influencers and the damage they can do, let's get to the most important part, how to spot them. We have prepared tips for you on how to distinguish fake influencers from real ones as easily as possible.


Fake followers are inactive followers, they are often bots or fake accounts that do not react in any way to the content created by the influencer. And since bots and fake accounts make up the majority of untrusted influencers' audiences, their social media posts typically have unusually low engagement rates for their massive followings. If it seems to you that the number of likes and comments on a post is suspiciously low compared to the number of followers, you can reasonably doubt the authenticity of the influencer's audience.


Engagement rate is the percentage of audience engagement with the creator's content on social networks. In simplicity, it is the share of all comments + likes and the total number of followers. Engagement rate can be laboriously calculated according to the equation, but it is much easier to use online platforms such as socialblade.com, where you can get basic information about profiles on selected social networks. For a simpler idea, we have prepared for you the calculation of the engagement rate of our last 3 posts on Instagram.



Monitoring the engagement rate metric can reveal untrustworthy profiles, but it's not a foolproof tactic. Some influencers with fake followers artificially increase their engagement and thus at first glance they may seem like a suitable candidate for cooperation. How to detect such fraudsters? Go through the comments below the posts and read them carefully. True followers usually write longer comments that are valuable and to the point. On the other hand,if you see general one-word comments like “nice”, “cool” or a flood of smileys under the post, it is very likely to be fakecomments. Therefore, do not forget that it is not only the number of comments that matters, but also their quality.



Another way that can significantly help you in determining the authenticity of an influencer is to check their audience. Click on your list of followers and scroll through it, if you notice that a large number of followers don't even have a profile picture, then it's time to increase your attention. Click through multiple accounts and see if the profile contains authentic photos of the user, or just generic photos from the photo bank, or even no photos at all. you've probably hit on a fake audience.




Another sign of an untrustworthy profile is a sudden increase in followers. The rocket growth of the audience was probably caused by the purchase of bots or fake accounts that started following the influencer after he paid for them. However, the occasional sudden increase in followers may not automatically mean that they are fake, on the contrary it can be due to the influencer's viral content, for example, which made him gain popularity. But it is important to realize that a sudden and large increase in the audience is rare for authentic influencers, and more often we encounter a constant increase in followers with small deviations. Therefore, if you have come across an influencer who records a rather steady decrease in followers and from time to time suddenly gains several hundred followers in one day, beware, he is probably a fraud.

Not only untrustworthy influencers, but also brands desire a rapid increase in followers. Recently, the phenomenon of Instagram contests has grown in Slovakia, which guarantee brands a weekly increase in followers in the thousands to tens of thousands for a fee. These are mostly contests with valuable prizes such as smartphones and cooperation with big influencers. You ask what's wrong with that?

If you as a brand participate in this type of competition, you will gain a lot of followers, but just as quickly as you gain them, you will lose them. These followers started following your profile just to enter the competition for valuable prizes and they are not interested in your story, products or services. By participating in the contest, you will gain a lot of inactive followers on your profile who will just leave over time. It is perfectly fine if you are interested in spreading brand awareness in the most effective way possible. However, think about whether accumulating inactive followers through various contests is meaningful for your brand. Instead of investing money in questionable practices, we would recommend you to focus on creating valuable content on social networks and working with a suitable influencer who will effectively and credibly communicate your brand to your audience.


Influencer marketing is largely dependent on influencers' ability to secure campaign engagement. If a brand campaign is to be successful, the influencer's followers should not only passively follow the campaign, ideally they should also be inspired and engaged. After all, interaction will always be critical in determining the success of a campaign. In this way, brands try to connect with the audience and generate real interest in their products or services, which is not possible if the audience consists of bots or fake accounts.

If you are interested in working with influencers, keep in mind that the selection process is very important. We have already covered the topic how to choose the right influencer in our previous article, which will definitely make the process of choosing an influencer easier for you. But remember that social networks are full of untrustworthy influencers who are waiting for you to become a victim of their fraud. Therefore, include our tips on how to detect fake followers in the process of choosing an influencer. It sounds like a lot of work, but putting more effort into your selection can protect you from scammers and lead to quality collaborations with influencers. We hope you found this article helpful, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact.

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