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How to Spot Fake Influencers in 2023? The Step-by-Step Guide

Spotting fake influencers is an important step before choosing one for partnerships. Fake influencers inflate their followers, engagement, and overall account performance artificially to con & cause a big loss for brands and scoop free money. Through this article, you will learn how to spot the signs of forged influencer accounts with bought followers.

Fake influencers are a nightmare for brands.

Their social media presence literally ruins the reputation of influencer marketing where it brings more business results than any other marketing channel.

But with content creators who buy followers, the benefit is gone.

And your money will also be lost and never grow.

This is very critical for brands as bogus content creators only have the numbers,

not the influence.

Obviously, they can’t deliver your targeted results.

It is very important not to be swayed by fake followers before running your influencer campaigns.

So, here is the complete guide to detecting a fake influencer who buys followers in 2023.

Let’s go.

TL;DR:

  • Check the influencer’s Follower-to-Engagement
  • Be careful if the content creators have a sudden surge of followers
  • Analyze the Engagement Quality of the influencer account
  • Review the influencer’s Audience Quality

What is exactly a Fake Influencer?

Fake influencers are social media users that want to bypass the hard work it takes to grow their accounts by engaging with the audience & creating compelling content to gain more followers.

The followers credibility of an influencer on Instagram
Instagram influencer audit from a “very good” content creator :)

Simply, fake influencers manipulate their profile stats and pretend to be influencers.

They create their social appearances like those real influencers,

such as posting content regularly, having high followers & likes, and many more.

But in reality, all those followers and likes come from an artificial boost.

They like to buy fake accounts or bots, and likes & comments.

This means bogus content creators do not have a real influence on people on social media.

An ideal influencer partnership approach is following these steps to find out and contact influencers properly.

And look out for fake followers on an influencer account before working with them.

Why should you verify if influencers buy followers?

So you don’t waste your money.

Back in 2019, brands lost $1.3 billion because of influencer fraud.

Fake influencers have one goal: to get brand sponsorships ASAP so they can get free money.

As a brand, this is a huge disadvantage.

Brands invest in influencer marketing so they can reach marketing and business goals

like brand awareness and sales increase.

If the influencer you are working with turns out to have fake followers,

Not only your money won’t come back, but also you can’t gain the benefits that were promised before:

Your business objectives.

Fake followers are everywhere on social media, even on the biggest influencers’ accounts.

It’s very crucial to know if the influencers on your list have bot followers & bogus accounts or not.

How do you know if an Influencer has fake followers?

Good question. That’s why you are reading this blog post 😉

It’s easy to become a forged influencer, but it’s also easy to spot fraud.

Just go to the follower list and take a glance at the accounts.

If you find followers with no photos & posts, one-digit followers, or private accounts,

They are undoubtedly fake.

The real and legit influencers who bring many good results are still there, like these top influencers in Singapore.

Don’t let these forged Instagram accounts fool you.

To know if an influencer account has fake followers, check these 2 red flags.

1. The influencer account has high followers but a low engagement rate

Legit influencers will have a decent engagement rate compared to their followers.

It’s weird if the account has big followers but no interaction on each post.

The number of followers from an IG influencer compared to the account growth
It’s either the followers are stuck or they got a pretty good “boost” before making it 40k.

Especially when they have 100k followers but only get an average of 100 likes.

If so, this is a big indicator that they have bought followers.

An account with 100k followers should be getting at least a thousand likes if it has a real audience engaging with them.

It’s getting worse if the comments are full of weird responses.

2. The Instagram comments section is full of spam & irrelevant comments

Fake influencers tend to buy followers, which are not real people.

The spam comment from Instagram fake accounts
The type of comment that doesn’t relate at all with the caption.

Fake accounts and bots don’t interact.

If so, they will just post scrappy texts with no context regarding the post.

It can be only emojis, spam comments, texts unrelated to the post, and many more.

It might contribute to the engagement rate, but that’s not what brands hope for.

Brands want genuine influence on people to buy their products.

So, always make sure to check the comments section or the overall engagement quality.

4 Tips to Identify a Fake Influencer

Can you imagine how many hours you spend analyzing an influencer account using only Instagram?

Manual work is always tiring, but I have one good news:

You can identify which influencers are fake with the help of influencer marketing software.

It will make your job a way lot easier, plus the data will be more accurate.

There are a lot of tools and platforms, but make sure to choose the one that is equipped with fraud detection.

In this guide, I will use HypeAuditor, a software with fake followers auditor

To give a tutorial on how to spot a forged influencer in 4 easy steps.

1. Create an account then type the influencer’s username of your choice

First things first, you must open the platform and create an account to use it.

Don’t forget to prepare the influencer’s username you want to review.

Struggling to find one? Try these best marketing tools to influencers on Instagram & TikTok.

Now back to the guide, let’s start our detective journey!

Find the “Get Started” button to sign up on HypeAuditor

The “Get Started” button is in the top right corner.

Click it and fill in the needed information.

If you want to use HypeAuditor for free, click “Create Free Account”.

Don’t forget to checklist the Terms & Conditions to proceed with your sign-up.

Type the influencer’s name on the search bar

After creating your account, it’s time to search for the influencer you want to inspect.

Look for a search bar on the top right of the screen.

Type the username of the influencer on it and wait for the result.

Click on the influencer’s profile on the search result.

After that, there will be a pop-up screen on your right side displaying the influencer’s brief assessment.

It contains basic information about the influencer, like following, followers, language, location, etc.

But you must be alert of one metric: the engagement rate.

If the number is very low, check it right away by clicking the “View full audit” button.

That is a very possible sign of a forged account.

After that, HypeAuditor will give you the full page of the influencer’s stats.

This is the space where you can explore every inch of the content creator’s account performance.

Check the influencer’s full assessment

Engagement rate, account growth, saturation rate, and audience quality,

These are among the indicators to check bought followers & engagement.

In the full assessment, you can find them easily in the “Score details”, then go to the “Core Metrics”,

And see if there is more green color than red.

As you know, red means bad, so when you find out the influencer has more red indicators than green, it is a huge warning.

But to make sure that the numbers are caused by bot followers, you must proceed and identify other stats.

Now, let’s find out what makes the influencer gets so many reds.

2. Check the influencer’s Follower-to-Engagement

The first step is to know the engagement rate.

It’s essential to know the balance of the follower-to-engagement ratio.

A low engagement rate with huge followers is the first red flag you should avoid.

They might be able to buy followers, but since they are not real people, they will not engage with the content. 

Look at this influencer with 94k followers and the engagement rate…

An influencer account on IG with a very low engagement rate
 If the engagement rate is in the red zone, be careful of the audience quality.

An account with 94k followers is considered to be a mid-tier influencer,

which has grown a quite large base of followers.

This account doesn’t have a genuine relationship with those audiences.

Therefore, brands should avoid working with influencers like this.

3. Be careful if the content creators have a sudden surge of followers

Growth spikes also can be a sign of bought followers.

The sudden surge is usually caused by the bots they recently bought.

The sudden surge of followers and sudden decline of followers
The surge and the decline at almost the same time is highly suspicious.

A normal graph is where influencers gain steady and slow followers increase over time.

Influencers with organic growth will also have some depression once in a while,

especially when they are not really active in producing content.

Brands better avoid a sharp rise in an influencer follower graph.

Like this influencer account from 

The follower count is very suspicious.

The follower count keeps going up and reached its highest peak at some point,

but slowly decreases after the spike.

Take a look at this.

4. Analyze the Engagement Quality of the influencer account

The third important step is to analyze the engagement quality.

You should study whether the audience is legit interacting with the influencer or not,

and see if the influencer deceives you with the number.

The related common on an influence account on Instagram showing good audience quality
This is a real comment.

The engagement rate can be the first indicator to spot a forged influencer.

But, it can also be manipulated.

Fake influencers can buy both followers and likes & comments.

They can have a high number of followers and a good engagement rate.

But that doesn’t guarantee the comments are also a good response.

Most commonly bought comments using only emojis,

short compliments like “Wow”, “Amazing”, spammy texts, and any other replies that are not related to the content.

Review the influencer’s Audience Quality

Audience quality is also the most important parameter

to see if influencers have an authentic bond with their audience.

To do this step, you need an influencer marketing tool to detect suspicious followers.

It will show you how many real accounts and bot accounts follow the influencer.

That way, you can estimate how many real followers the influencer has.

This is an example of an influencer filled with bot followers.

It is mandatory to avoid influencers with this kind of stat as it won’t drive your campaign any result.

Find out which influencers with bogus followers before running your influencer campaigns

That’s a wrap,

the guide on how to detect a forged influencer in 2023.

It’s very important to cross-check thoroughly on the influencer account you want to collaborate with.

The potential of encountering fake content creators is very high.

They’re flooding social media because it’s so easy to become a fake influencer.

Influencers are full of surprises and who knows their bad habits if you don’t review them carefully?

As you can see, identifying fake influencers is very easy.

Just follow the steps one by one and use the best influencer marketing platform to help audit the influencer.

I highly recommend using HypeAuditor as it has the best fraud detection and comprehensive influencer analytics.

So, have you been checking influencers’ profiles before contacting them?

What are you using? Do you also have another tip to know if the influencer has fake followers? 

Let me know in the comments section 😉

Do fake influencers use bots?

Generally, fake influencers buy bot followers to boost their follower number. They also use bots to leave auto likes & comments to inflate their engagement rates. But real influencers rely on organic growth: real followers & engagement. It’s very important for brands to look out for the difference between the two so they don’t lose the money they want to invest.

How do you know if an account is an influencer on Instagram?

See the following ratio. Influencers tend to follow 1 to 5 percent of the people on their following. It means, they have an audience and influence. Also, look at their posts: see if they are actively creating content dedicated to their audience, and also sponsorships. An influencer with influence must have been working with various brand deals to help endorse their products.

How can you tell if an Influencer bought their followers?

Look at the follower’s quality. If you find any followers with no photos, no posts, private accounts, or spammy usernames, then they are most likely fake or bots. You can also review the engagement quality of the account. Fake followers do not interact with the content so it’s very obvious for an account with high followers but have a low engagement rate. Spam & unrelated comments are also a sign of fake engagement.

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