The complete guide to spotting fake influencers for influencer marketing professionals. We’ll show you how to detect fake influencers on Instagram and keep your influencer marketing money well-invested in 9 easy steps!
We will compare a fake Instagram channel to the channel of top influencer Ohhcouture, which is completely fake-free. The fake channel was set up by influencer marketing agency Mediakix for their sensational fake influencer experiment. Read more about it here.
Here are the 9 easy steps to detect fake influencers on Instagram:
- Check the audience quality of the influencer
- Influencer’s follower growth should be stable and consistent
- Daily follower changes can tell you whether the influencer has purchased followers or not.
- Like-follower ratio will show you the activeness of the followers
- Check the Earned Media Value – the ultimate metrics to define the value of an influencer
- Check video views, it is harder to be manipulated in comparison with likes or shares
- The comments should be opulent and different from each other
- Is she/he also visible on other social media platforms? (e.g. blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Check the number of Google result about her/him.
1. Audience Quality
The Quality Grade is the best parameter to evaluate whether a channel is fake or not and is a must prior to each and every cooperation! The higher the score, the better. InfluencerDB offers access to the Target Group Analysis with a premium subscription.
This metric alone will reveal whether an influencer reaches valuable users or fake, inactive or unsuitable users.
Audience Quality of @ohhcouture vs. @calibeachgirl310
You see at first glance that @ohhcouture’s audience is much higher in quality and the majority of her audience consists of very good and good followers, while @calibeachgirl310’s audience is mostly bad and very bad.
2. Follower Growth
The growth graph helps you to see whether an influencer purchased followers. Ideally, the growth graph should proceed like @ohhcouture’s follower graph, evenly and without major upwards or downwards spikes.
Follower growth graph of @ohhcouture vs. @calibeachgirl310
@calibeachgirl’s graph shows that the channel only started in April and most of the growth happened during the first two months, but growth is stagnating after that time period.
3. Daily Follower Changes
Another tool which helps you to detect fake influencers is the daily follower changes section. Instagram only displays the status quo of a channel, so seeing follower loss and follower gain within the daily follower changes on InfluencerDB will help to detect Instagram fraud.
Daily Follower Changes of @ohhcouture vs. @calibeachgirl310
@ohhcouture’s daily follower changes display that her follower base increases steadily, while @calibeachgirl310 obviously bought followers, as revealed by the unusual spikes in beginning of July and the subsequent follower loss.
Apart from the followers, the follows are worth having a look at as well. If an influencer constantly follows and unfollows a high amount of channels, the influencer probably abuses follow-for-follow to increase their follower base.
4. Like Follower Ratio
The engagement of the followers, as well as the general activity of the channel, reveal whether a user truly counts as an influencer and is able to inspire the audience. Nonetheless, these examples show that the Like Follower Ratio alone is not sufficient to detect fake influencers.
Engagement metrics of @ohhcouture
Engagement metrics of @calibeachgirl310
@ohhcouture’s Like Follower Ratio of 4.9% is decent considering her exceptionally high amount of followers. In general, the Like Follower Ratio is lower for influencers with millions of followers.
@calibeachgirl310’s engagement rate is higher than @ohhcouture’s Like Follower Ratio, which might come as a surprise. But considering the other indicators, it reveals that the channel most likely purchased fake likes as well.
5. Earned Media Value
Real and successful influencers have a great standing within the influencer universe. Thus, they are frequently mentioned by other channels, both influencer and brand channels, which is reflected by the channels’ Earned Media Values (green and red columns). @ohhcouture’s Earned Media Value clearly mirrors this fact.
Earned Media of @ohhcouture vs. @calibeachgirl310
But having no Earned Media Value at all (that is, not being mentioned by other channels ever), as is the case with @calibeachgirl310, is rather uncommon for influencers and should ring your alarm bells. Nonetheless, this metric alone is not meaningful enough to imply fake influencers.
6. Video Views
In an exclusive InfluencerDB interview with fitness brand Paragon Fitwear’s Jeffrey Serini, the marketer highlighted the importance of video views:
“Videos are a good indicator of how authentic the audience is. If an account supposedly has 300,000 followers and only 5,000 views on a video, then that is a red flag and could be a problem. While someone with 50,000 followers and 40,000 views on a video, that is fantastic!”
@ohhcouture gathered 70,699 views for the video displayed below. Thus, 5.3% of her followers watched the video, which seems valid considering the general engagement of her followers and her Like Follower Ratio of 4.9%.
@calibeachgirl310 did not post any videos. Thus, a direct comparison is not possible.
A look at the post comments of a channel can be a simple way to detect Instagram fraud at first glance, although we highly advise against solely relying on this method.
Comments on @ohhcouture’s profile vs. @calibeachgirl310’s profile
@ohhcouture’s followers are very engaged in the comments and directly refer to the content displayed, while the majority of @calibeachgirl310’s comments do not refer to the content and is disposable. Comments like these might be an indicator for the influencer’s use of fake comments or engagement groups.
Additionally, you might want to click through some of the commenters’ profiles. You might spot fake commenters pretty fast.
Also, pay attention to whether a lot of commenters are influencers/ users with a high amount of followers themselves. More and more wannabe influencers engage in groups with other upcoming influencers to exchange comments in order to increase engagement on their channels.
8. Other social media profiles
Most influencers do not limit their presence to just one social media but are active in numerous social networks.
Social media profiles of @ohhcouture
@ohhcouture has a strong following on her blog (more than 22,000 total visits, according to Similar Web), as well as on Facebook (more than 23,000 likes) and Twitter (more than 1,800 followers), which mirrors her high value as an influencer and shows that she is valued by her followers beyond the limits of Instagram.
Not surprisingly, @calibeachgirl310’s only social media presence is her (fake) Instagram channel.
9. Google Results
It might sound almost too easy, but a simple Google search might do the trick to detect fake influencers (or at least raise suspicion).
When searching for ohhcouture on Google, almost 2 million results come up!
Compared to that, calibeachgirl310 results in 12,000 hits, but apart from the fake Instagram channel, all of them revolve around the news coverage of Mediakix’ experiment.
While @ohhcouture’s real name Leonie Hanne results in 368,000 hits, @calibeachgirl310’s fake influencer name Alexa Rae results in a rather unexpected outcome on Google which is not at all connected to the Instagram channel (see for yourself).
When following these 9 steps and with the support of InfluencerDB, detecting fake influencers will no longer be a mystery! We highly advise to always follow more than one step, as only looking at one of these might lead to the wrong assumptions.
Visit @ohhcouture’s index page on our InfluencerDB platform and explore her influencer marketing metrics yourself. It’s completely free!