Nowadays, it seems that everyone on the internet is an influencer. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube seem to be filled with people who have over a million followers or subscribers. But how is that possible, and who are all these people?
Well, becoming an influencer is a dream for many, as it can easily make you a lot of money once you have made it and brands start to pay you to promote their products on your channel.
Getting followers naturally is not easy, and, therefore, many people tend to "buy" their followers. Buying followers is a service that some companies offer.
It looks like an influencer gained their followers naturally, but what the companies did was create fake accounts to follow a certain channel. This fake popularity can be quite harmful, so it is best to check for fake followers before engaging with an influencer.
Read in this article what the issues with fake followers are and how you can spot accounts that use fake followers on social media.
The issue with fake followers
At first glance, fake followers might not seem like a big problem, but there are grave consequences when working with an influencer with many fake followers.
They cost companies money
If you hire an influencer to promote your products or services, your main goal is probably to create more brand awareness and attract new customers. If you use an influencer with fake followers, the accounts you'll reach will be fake and will not gain your company and brand awareness or conversion.
The so-called fake followers may not be recognizable at first glance since companies usually only check the number of followers. However, with the right know-how, fake followers can be quickly identified.
These followers do not have a profile picture, and there is also a clear lack of posts. In addition, the biography is characterized by yawning emptiness. After all, what matters to most people when creating fake followers is not quality, but quantity.
You'll be throwing money away if you pay for an influencer with fake followers. In 2019, fake followers cost companies more than 1.9 billion dollars. For this reason, you should always check for fake followers before you hire an influencer.
They give your company a bad image
Using influencers to promote your products and services can be a good way to increase brand awareness and sales, and even using micro-influencers with a small number of followers can help you to grow your business.
One day, your influencers' accounts might go from 10k followers to almost none if the platform removes their fake followers. The account of the influencer could be suspended or even removed as well.
Being associated with an account that was deleted due to the violation of the terms and conditions can put your company in a bad light, as it seems like your company condones this behavior and uses fake followers to promote itself. You certainly should stay away from using these accounts to prevent damage to your company's image.
They are harmful to health and well-being
Another issue with fake followers is that influencers are, as the name suggests, influential. Young people especially can be easily persuaded to buy a product if an influencer promotes it.
Some influencers don't care about anything else besides making money and will promote any product, even if it's harmful to your health and well-being. There have been many studies into influencers' ethical responsibility, and shockingly, most of them seemed to have very little of it.
For example, a group of researchers created a fake drink containing harmful ingredients and asked influencers to promote it. As a result, most influencers posted it on their channel, even though it contained harmful ingredients. Fake followers will not speak out about this issue, as their accounts aren't operated by real people.
How to Spot Fake Followers Manually
Fake followers are easy to purchase. Some services even offer 1000 fake followers for only ten dollars. This makes it a very attractive offer. Studies showed that many influencers were willing to admit that they use fake followers to boost their accounts to gain popularity.
Track follower growth spikes
Fame doesn't just happen overnight; unless an influencer has been on a tv show or in a movie, it is unnatural to gain many followers in one day. There are tools to track Instagram or TikTok followers with, or you can track it manually by keeping a list of the number of followers of your preferred influencer.
If the number of followers increases slowly and steadily, chances are that the followers are real. Big spikes usually indicate that the influencer has bought fake followers.
Calculate the engagement rate
The number of followers stopped being the most important metric for Instagram ages ago when the purchasing of fake followers began.
Nowadays, it is more important to have engagement on your account, meaning that likes and reactions are more valued than the number of followers. Some influencers only invest in buying followers, but it becomes apparent that they are fake if their content doesn't get a lot of responses.
Engagement rates for influencers with a big number of followers should be between 1% and 3%. Smaller accounts should have an engagement rate of between 3% and 5%. The engagement rate is easily calculated by taking the number of posts over the last 30 days and adding up all the likes and comments.
Take this number and divide it by the number of posts. The result is the average engagement per post. Divide this number by the number of followers the account has and multiply this by 100. Now you'll know the engagement rate.
Check the follower's accounts
The followers' accounts can tell you if they are real or fake. People creating fake accounts often sell them for a small fee and have no time to optimize the fake account itself. You'll be able to easily spot the fakes when you see the following things:
- No profile photo or no photo of a person
- No followers but follow many accounts
- Profile name with many random letters and numbers
- Little to no posts (posts are usually stock photos)
The easiest way to check for fake followers
As you can see, manually spotting fake followers takes a lot of time and effort. You'll have to monitor the account you're considering hiring for a long time and calculate several metrics before engaging with the influencer.
A smart influencer will not only buy fake followers but also buy comments and likes. This makes it even more difficult to manually spot an account's fake followers.
There are a variety of different influencer analytics tools available, each with its own unique set of features. Some of the most common features include:
- Audience demographics: These tools can help businesses understand who their influencers' followers are, including their age, gender, location, and interests.
- Engagement metrics: Many influencer analytics tools provide detailed engagement metrics, such as likes, comments, shares, and views, which can help businesses understand how well their content is performing.
- Campaign tracking: Many tools allow businesses to track the performance of multiple campaigns simultaneously, providing them with an overview of the success of each campaign.
- Influencer search: Some tools provide businesses with a search function, allowing them to find and track specific influencers based on their niche, location, and audience size.
- ROI calculation: An advanced analytics tool will have the ability to calculate the ROI on a campaign or a certain influencer's post, providing the business with a clear picture of the return on the investment.
Overall, influencer analytics tools are powerful tools that can help businesses and marketers optimize their influencer marketing efforts and better understand the impact of their campaigns.
Besides this information, you can also see the most-used hashtags, mentions, and brand affinity if an account has at least 2000 followers. So, start measuring the performance of your marketing campaigns and give a boost to your business.