How To Check If An Influencer Has Bought Followers


Influencer marketing has recently become all the rage and is a great way for brands to build brand awareness, expand their audience and increase sales. Unlike other forms of ads such as TV ads that reach out to a general population, influencer marketing allows you to choose influencers based on whether their is similar to your audience audience. This allows the social media influencer to reach out to your audience for you, making your money go further and your marketing efforts more successful!

All sounds great right?... Well, as useful as influencer marketing can be, the harsh reality is that in today's industry a lot of online influencers are ‘buying their followers’ which means their followers are fake, and fake followers means fake engagement!

Brands need to be careful when choosing their influencers ensuring they are throughly checking for fake followers before working with any influencer. 

Here are 3 ways to tell if a social media influencer has bought their followers:

1. Check their engagement

If an account has thousands of followers, their engagement rate should reflect this figure. Instagram accounts with thousands of followers and very little likes and comments most likely have bought thousands of fake follwoers! You can work out an accounts engagement rate by simply dividing the average number of engagments an influencer gets in a post by the number of followers they have.

For example, Take 3 posts and add together the number of engagements, this will give you the average number of engagements. Then simply divide the average number of engagements by the number of followers. Be sure to look out for fake spammy comments as they could of bought these too! 

Once you've calculated, If the engagement rate is low, then it is likely they have some fake followers, either that or their audience just doesn't care and is not that invested in their content, which is not an influencer you would want to invest in anyway.

2. Check out their followers profiles

There are a few red flags to look out for which make it easy to tell whether an influencers followers are fake. Some of these include:

  • No photos: If their followers profiles have no photos or posts or don’t have a profile photo, you can typically assume these are fake.

  • Spammy usernames: Fake accounts typically have very ‘spammy’ usernames such as “2678uviseth4570” or something to do with growth and exposure on Instagram.

  • Spammy comments: It’s easy to assume an account with lots of comments is a great influencer to invest in, but check carefully that the comments aren’t spammy as if they are, they’re fake comments from fake followers! The comments are typically very generic such as “cool pic!” or a single emoji... if their comment box is filled with these type of comments, steer clear!

3. Check their followers location

This one can be a bit more time consuming, but checking the location of an influencers followers is a great way to discover whether they are real, or fake. If an influencer is based in the UK but a great amount of their followers are based in Asia… then you can definitely assume these are fake followers. Not only this, but as a brand you need to understand your target audience. Are your target audience based in one specific location? If so, you need your chosen influencers audience to reflect this! So, if their followers don’t fit the bill, you wouldn’t want to invest in them anyway - regardless of whether or not they are fake! To check this you can scan through their followers accounts and check the location (time consuming) or, you can contact the influencer and ask for a screenshot of their audience analytics (if they want to work with you, they will agree to this).

For any more advice on influencer marketing or building your following/engagement the organic way, get in touch! We’d love to hear from you - @lucyhitchcock_@sassydigital