October 20, 2020

5 Tips for Spotting a Fake Instagram Influencer

Today, becoming an Instagram influencer is synonymous with fame and all the perks that come with it. A majority of influencers land sponsorships, brand deals, and get showered in free products from the brands they love in exchange for promoting the brands to their followers. However, not every person with a couple of hundred thousand followers on Instagram is worth following. Here are 3 tips to help you steer clear of fake influencer accounts so you can focus on the ones who are worth following.

Dodgy engagement

It is pretty easy to spot a fake influencer account by looking at engagement or the number of likes, comments, and views that you see on his or her post. If an account has 10,000 followers but only getting 100 likes then chances are the followers are not legitimate. Even if there is an impressive number of likes in the most recent posts but the ones from a week or a month ago only had a few,  consider this as another telltale sign. Marketplace data shows that as an account begins to scale and grow, the engagement often lowers. Different social media platforms have different engagement trend statistics, but a strong benchmark like to follower rate is around 5%. Anything under this rate can draw the illusion of fake followers and bot accounts driving potential activity on the influencers’ page. The data below shows the average engagement of accounts of various sizing scales.

Quality of community activity

Genuine influencers maintain active engagement with people from the same community, which you can see in the types of conversations going on in his or her posts. You can easily spot which comments are genuine, such as those that express admiration, refer to previous encounters with the influencer, or ask questions. These are easy to see as coming from real people as opposed to spam or two-word comments that are clearly generated by bots. In most of these conversations, you can also see the influencer posting specific replies that relate to the post.

The Emoji Comments

I’m willing to bet that if you go to any influencer’s page and look in the comments of their most recent post, you will see a ton of accounts (both real and fake looking) commenting a string of emojis. Sometimes these are just one single emoji, but from what we’ve seen most times it comes in a string of three emojis. What is going on here is either influencers are buying comments from bot-like accounts that will just comment emojis to avoid saying generic auto-generated phrases or influencers are in engagement groups asking other influencers to comment emojis for them in order to ‘look and seem more legit’. These comments aren’t always fake, they’re just a trick that influencers use to build up engagement in hope to land themselves a post on the front of the explore page.

Activity outside of IG

Do a bit of snooping and look for the influencer’s other social media account such as Twitter, TikTok, or YouTube pages. You can find that real influencers link their social media accounts together so followers can easily jump from one platform to another. Genuine influencers often have equally strong followers on other platforms as well.  A quick Google search can also come up with mentions and backlinks that could indicate how much authority the influence holds outside of IG. Real influencers spend time growing the content and community following across all social media platforms whereas imitation influencers just spend their time growing their Instagram in hope to land lucrative brand deals.

Check the tagged photos

If you’re ever wondering “do people really like this influencer?” then a place to go for validation is the tagged photos section of their page. A great way to see growth on a page is organic tags and reposts of the influencer’s content. If accounts are reposting photos the influencer posted then that means the user is actually influencing people and contributing to the greater good of the Instagram content stream. But, if an account that has 100,000 followers only gets a handful of tagged photos a year then it might prove they aren’t really influencing anyone. Furthermore, check how the influencers are engaging with these tagged posts. If they are supportive of their fans by liking and commenting on posts then they can show a sense of heart.

Fake Instagram influencers are not the best source of content nor are they the people you should be following if you want to grow your own brand on IG the right way. Take note of these tips so you can steer clear of the fake accounts and streamline your feed with content from influencers who really matter.