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How to Tell if an Influencer Has Fake Followers
Many brands look for influencers with a certain number of followers, and stop there. Influencers with more followers can get more sponsorships, as well as negotiate higher rates on those sponsorships.
Not only that, but influencers can purchase followers for cheaper than you may think. Just check out Buzzoid, a resource for buying Instagram traffic. Influencers can purchase views, followers, and likes. They even advertise rates as low as $2.97 — not likely to be an obstacle for most influencers.
An article by Hubspot warns influencers against purchasing fake followers as well, saying “If you don’t know how well your posts are doing or what your real audience thinks, you’ll never convert your Instagram followers into real customers. And isn’t that the point?” This idea is important for brands to remember as well. They won’t see an increase in conversions from sponsored content if the majority of the followers are bots.
It’s More Common Than You May Think
It may seem like only the most dubious accounts would purchase fake followers, but it’s more common than you think. A half-second Google search for how to buy fake followers on Instagram returned 66,700,000 results. Not only that, it included the following popular searches as well:
What can you do about it?
With resources like this available at every influencer’s fingertips, brands need to be extra discerning when selecting a partner. Start with reviewing the influencer’s followers and check for any accounts that have no profile picture, blank bios, or stock photos.
Influencer Marketing Hub has a resource available for evaluating influencer followers. They also warn against spammy comments, saying that “While these comments are technically engagement, they have no value to a brand that is hoping for an influencer to persuade his / her followers that the brand’s product will be suitable for them.”
Get to Know The Influencer
Before hiring an influencer, browse their website and social media accounts. Check out any other sponsored posts they’ve done in the past. See who’s commenting and engaging on those posts. Again, keep an eye out for a high number of “likes” with very few comments or real engagement.
Using an influencer platform will also increase your chances of finding the best influencers. Many platforms have tools to help you do your research. These tools can include anything from artificial intelligence to predict success to review where you can see how well they worked with other brands in the past.
Use Influencer Platforms
An article by CMS Wire quoted Ted Murphy of Izea saying, “…an influencer platform will show you how many followers an influencer has, but it will also display how many followers he or she has gained or lost recently. The platform can also show you how well an influencer engages with his or her audience, if at all.”
Increase your chances of finding the best influencers by carefully vetting each partnership. Take plenty of time to research. You may run into a few hiccups at first, but with experience, you’ll get faster at spotting real versus fake engagement.