We’re all used to telemarketer scams and identity fraud, but did you know that influencer fraud is becoming a huge problem in the industry? In fact, it’s become so big that businesses are expected to lose $1.3 billion in fake influencer fraud in 2019.

Luckily, this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to lose your mortgage to shady accounts. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid influencer fraud.

Why do people buy fake followers?

The lure behind fake followers is simple. In the previous guide, we talked about how the average influencer rate comes out to one cent per follower. Because follower count is directly tied to how much influencers can charge, the more followers they have, the more money they can make.

Higher rates aren’t the only reason influencers buy fake followers, however. For brands who want to sell products or services, large followings can act as social clout, giving off the appearance that they have a certain level of expertise or credibility.

How common are influencers with fake followers? 

It’s estimated that roughly ⅓ of marketed audiences are made up of bots—with those odds, you’re better off playing Russian Roulette! Influencer campaigns can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, which is a lot of money down the drain.

Not all is lost, however. If ⅓ of audiences are made up of bots, that still leaves ⅔ of audiences made up of real people with real money. Here are some ways you can identify an account with fake followers and stay far away from them.



1. Inconsistent activity

One of the telltale signs that an influencer is buying fake followers is by observing their activity. While the ebb and flow of comments and likes will vary depending on the post, there should be a consistent amount of likes and comments. 

Another way to identify fake followers is by analyzing their ratio of likes vs comments. Likes tend to be cheaper to buy than comments—if you notice an influencer has a decent amount of likes but virtually no comments, chances are they’re buying fake followers.



2. Fake bios

Another easy way to identify a fake account is by taking a look at their bio. Often, fake accounts won’t put in the effort needed to create a detailed bio. If the bio section has been left blank or is only a sentence or two long, you might have a fake account on your hands.

The same goes for accounts that purposefully hide their bio details. Real influencers aren’t likely to hide their bios due to the nature of their profession—hiding your bio makes it more difficult for users to follow you, which is counter-intuitive to promoting products.



3. Comment quality

Fake or spammy comments are a sign of fake followers. If most of the comments on an influencer’s page are emojis or simple 1-3 word comments, proceed with caution.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Is this something I would say to a friend?”. A fake comment will lack substance and offer nothing of value. A real comment, on the other hand, will sound like a conversation between friends.



4. Go with your gut

Figuring out if a follower is legit is kind of like tapping the keg at a party. There’s the promise of something great but if it looks like Natty Light and tastes like Natty Light… Well, unfortunately, it’s probably Natty Light. 🙁

At the end of the day, your gut is the best indicator of whether an influencer has fake followers or not. If you’ve taken a look at their account and something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to move on. There’s plenty of other fish in the sea.

The only sure-fire way to know if an influencer has fake followers

The above tips are all well and good, but maybe you don’t have the hours needed to vet multiple influencer accounts. In that case, one of the only sure-fire ways to know if an influencer has fake followers is to use a social media influencer platform.

Influencer platforms, like Social Media Famous, put together carefully curated lists of influencers so that you don’t have to.



With Social Media Famous, you get access to engagement information such as engagement rates, average comments, and estimated post prices. However, that’s not all…



You also get access to audience evolution charts that display a visual of follower growth (or decline)…


An average engagement rate chart that gives you a visual display of an influencer’s past engagement…



And even a look at future projections based on past data! Using an influencer platform, you not only get access to a curated list of real influencers, but you also get access to information that helps you gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns.

In conclusion: key takeaways

Fake followers impact ⅓ of influencer campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you need to fall victim too. Remember these tips to avoid influencer fraud:

  • Keep an eye on account activity. Inconsistent activity is a sign of fake followers, or at the very least, a low-quality account.
  • Pay attention to influencer bios. Private or non-existent bios point to fake or lazy influencers.
  • Real influencers have real friends. If the comments come across as spammy or generic, they might be bought.
  • Use common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and look somewhere else!

Tired of fake influencers? Sign up for a free account to get access to real influencers with real followers.