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7 min read | December 8, 2022

Fake Influencers: 3 Ways to Spot Them Every Time

Collaborating with fake influencers can have a detrimental effect on your brand. For one thing, the money you invest in them is likely to be wasted. But even more damaging is the long-term impact working with fake influencers can have on consumer trust in your brand. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you conduct all the right checks before you decide to partner with an influencer.

In this guide, we will discuss what fake influencers are, how you can spot them, and what the best strategy is to make sure the influencer you work with is real and has an authentic audience. 

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What are Fake Influencers?

Fake influencers are individuals who have created a falsely inflated following to make them seem more popular than they really are. They can do this in a number of ways. Some fake influencers use bots and dummy accounts to increase their audience size instead of organically growing an authentic following. Others buy likes and comments to make it seem like they have a higher engagement rate than they really do. By doing this, they can trick brands to believe that they are more influential in order to negotiate paid partnerships. 

Working with fake influencers can have a number of damaging effects on your brand. For one thing, although they might appear to have a large following, in reality, their campaigns are very unlikely to generate any worthwhile engagement as many of their followers aren’t real. And this means that they don’t have the power to influence your target audience and sway them towards your brand. 

Secondly, if your target audience suspects that your campaigns are linked to influencer fraud, then your brand is likely to lose trust and credibility over time. And this can have a negative impact on your reputation. Not to mention all the money you will waste by collaborating with an influencer who can’t deliver on their promise. 

How to Spot Fake Influencers

Let’s take a look at a few clues that you need to watch out for so that you can spot potential fake influencers and avoid damage to your business. That way, the money you spend on influencer marketing will be well invested. 

Analyze Influencer Engagement

One of the biggest clues that someone might be a fake influencer is their engagement rate. When you conduct your checks, take a look through an influencer’s posts to see whether the number of likes, comments, and shares they receive matches up with their number of followers. 

If an influencer has a large audience but their followers rarely interact with their posts (or they only post generic comments and emojis), then it could suggest that most of their followers are bots or fake accounts. However, this method isn’t foolproof as some influencers might buy fake engagements or participate in engagement pods to falsely inflate their metrics. 


Look for Unusual Follower-to-Engagement Ratios

Another common theme with fake influencers is having unusual follower-to-engagement ratios. Aside from the suspicious imbalance between an influencer’s audience size and the number of interactions they receive on their posts that we just discussed, this can also manifest itself in excessively high engagement rates, or in low-quality false engagement. Or you might spot consistently identical engagement rates that might suggest that an influencer is buying fake engagements. All these are clear signs of fake influencers.    

Verify Audience Quality

The third important step you need to take to filter out fake influencers is verifying the quality of their audience. You can do this by manually checking a selection of followers listed on their profile.

What kinds of people follow them? What are their interests? How many other profiles are they following? Do they interact frequently with a range of profiles? Could they be ghost accounts, bots, or fake profiles?

What’s the Solution?

The most effective way to spot fake influencers is by using the right tools and technology.

For example, Influencity's follower quality feature can help you analyze the authenticity of an influencer’s audience so that you can determine if any of their followers are fake. That way, you can filter out accounts with falsely inflated audiences and collaborate with an influencer with a genuine audience that will interact and engage with your brand.

So, how does Influencity do this?

Essentially, the platform calculates the quality of an influencer’s audience by analyzing a number of factors. This includes an influencer’s engagement rate, follower activities, and how much their audience interacts with their campaigns. It then divides an influencer’s followers into two categories: Nice Followers and Doubtful Followers. Doubtful followers tend to be accounts that are either inactive or bots.

Influencity’s audience quality feature also uses natural language processing and image recognition technology to identify fake accounts. For example, AI software can flag suspicious comments on an influencer's profile. This might include repetitive and spammy comments left by similar profiles which might suggest that a follower is actually a bot. And image recognition technology can scan for patterns and identify suspicious accounts. These might be accounts without profile pictures, or those with the exact same photo uploaded across different accounts. You can then remove these fake influencers from your list of potential candidates and redirect your focus to those influencers who can have a positive impact on your brand. 

Download free: Influencer Outreach Guide

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