Social Media Influencer Fraud: How to Avoid Fake Followers and Engagement
Social media influencer fraud can be a big problem, especially for brands that are new to the world of influencer marketing. Working with an influencer who has falsely inflated their audience with fake followers can not only impact the performance of your campaigns, but it can also damage your brand reputation.
This article will highlight the issue of social media influencer fraud and provide practical tips on how to identify and avoid fake followers and fake engagement rates. We will cover topics including the importance of analyzing follower growth and engagement rates and using third-party tools to verify audience authenticity.
What Is Social Media Influencer Fraud?
Social media influencer fraud is when someone purchases fake followers and bots to artificially grow their audience. They do this in the hope of appearing more popular and convincing more brands to collaborate with them on influencer marketing campaigns.
Social media influencer fraud can be very damaging to your influencer marketing strategy. For one thing, these fake influencers are rarely capable of generating results as, unless their audience is genuine, they have no real followers to interact with their posts. Fake influencers also haven’t generated a good level of follower trust, which means they are much less effective at influencing people. That’s why it’s so important to conduct a fake follower check before you reach out to someone to make sure that their audience is authentic and engaged.
How to Avoid Social Media Influencer Fraud
We’ve seen what social media influencer fraud is and how working with a fake influencer can damage your brand, but how do you know if an influencer is fake?
Here are a few practical tips to help you identify and avoid influencers with fake followers and fake engagement.
Analyze Follower Growth
The first thing to check when you vet for social media influencer fraud is audience follower growth. One of the biggest clues that someone has purchased fake followers or bots is if their audience grows quickly overnight. Although sudden spikes don’t always indicate that an influencer is fake (as quick growth can happen if one of their posts goes viral), an unexpected spike followed by a drop in follow count is usually a sign of social media influencer fraud. Usually, when a genuine influencer’s audience starts expanding, it grows consistently over time.
Verify Engagement Rates
The next thing on your social media influencer fraud vetting list should be engagement rates. If an influence has a high follower count but few interactions on their posts, then this is suspicious. Or if the engagements they do have are mostly likes and generic comments like “Nice!” or standalone emojis then this is another sign that some or all of their followers might be bots.
How many likes do their posts generate on average? Are likes and comments consistent on each post? Does the influencer interact with any of these comments or are they floating comments with a low response rate?
It’s also a good idea to review some of the accounts that the influencer engages with frequently. This can help you identify if they are participating in influencer pods to falsely increase their engagement rates. Influencer pods are online groups and forums where fake influencers often go to exchange engagements. These influencers interact with someone else in the group’s posts in exchange for interactions on their own. These engagements are meaningless because these influencers don’t actually have a genuine interest in what the other has to say.
Use Third-Party Tools to Verify Authenticity
The most effective way to identify social media influencer fraud is by using third-party tools to verify audience authenticity. These tools can help you automate your checks instead of manually searching through each influencer’s profile to verify growth and engagement rates.
For example, Influencity’s IM solution includes a range of audience analysis tools that you can use to check the authenticity of an influencer’s audience. These AI tools evaluate an influencer’s engagement rates, follower activities, and the quality of responses generated by their posts. You then get an Audience Quality Score based on all this data that reflects how authentic, active, and engaged their followers are, and whether their audience consists of any fake followers or bots. That way, you can be sure that the influencer you choose to collaborate with is not likely to be involved in social media influencer fraud. Instead, they can promote your brand and generate the campaign results that you need for your business.