Spill-the-Tea Tuesday is a weekly series about all things to do with Influencer Marketing. While I’m a content creator, I try to write these posts from both sides of the story, the creator and the brand they’re representing. On this week’s edition of spill-the-tea, we’re chatting about Fake Followers.
Gathering followers AUTHENTICALLY on social media is HARD! Every now and then an Influencer has a viral post and their follower numbers will increase dramatically, but for most social media influencers, it takes TIME and EFFORT to build a following that trusts them and wants to follow their journey.
Not everyone wants to wait to earn that genuine following and unfortunately, Influencers (and Brands for that matter) have fallen for the “quick fix” of purchasing followers so they can boost their numbers. It’s deceptive, and damaging to both the Influencer and the Brands who employ them. Bottom line…
Fake Followers = Fake Influencer!
Here’s the problem: A brand hires an influencer for a marketing campaign with expectations of success because the influencers “numbers look good”! But low and behold, the campaign is a BUST because the followers were actually purchased accounts and bots don’t really engage and certainly aren’t influenced to purchase the brand’s product of service. The brand has been duped about the influencer’s influence and the return on investment is nowhere near what it should have been!
So, how do you figure out who has a “fake following”? It’s not easy (without paying for marketing tools to help you)…but, by manually checking a sampling of an Influencer’s posts and followers, there are a few signs you can look for.
- Analyze audience quality: Check to see if the followers are active, if they themselves have many followers (usually if they’re fake they don’t have many followers), if they don’t have a bio, or if they even have a profile picture. Also, check to see if the picture they’re using is stolen from somewhere else on the internet (you can do a reverse google image search to see if a photo has been stolen.)
- Analyze engagement quality: Check to see if the Influencers posts that have spam comments, emoji only comments, odd hashtags, generic comments like “nice pic”, “awesome” or a comment that’s completely unrelated to the post – all of these could be generated from a bot or fake account. Also, watch for lack of “back and forth” engagement.
- Analyze the influencers ratio: Check to see how many people they’re following compared to how many people are following them. Most people have a much closer ratio of followers though influencers typically do have a bit of a higher following…still, not obscenely high! The exception here being with a celebrity, where they might follow 100 people but have hundreds of thousands of people following them.
- Analyze engagement rate: Check to see how many likes and comments is the person getting compared to the number of followers they have. For example, if you have 100k followers but only have 100 likes on a post…something is off!
- Watch for sudden jump in followers: Unless they’ve had a major viral post, you won’t usually see a massive jump in followers unless the following is purchased. Typically if an Influencer has had a viral post, a post shared on celebrities instagram or an article written about them that’s caused a jump in numbers…the’ll likely tell you about it on their newsfeed as they’re excited about it. If there’s a jump in numbers without any explanation… there might be a different, not so exciting reason!
Fake followers hurt both brands and influencers and should NEVER be purchased. For anyone that has purchased them “accidentally”…thinking they were helping their business, it’s a miserable exercise to go through their following and delete the accounts but in doing so, your account is more reliable and authentic. Purchasing followers also goes against the terms of agreement you have with Instagram, and they can disable your account.
If you’re hiring an Influencer and things seem too good to be true, maybe they are. Have a peek through their followers to see if there’s a potential problem before you waste your marketing budget.
Bots and fake accounts can be purchased, but they can also show up as followers by seeking out keywords and hashtags that you might be using. Take a peek through your following from time to time to make sure it’s “real” and block and report those fake accounts. (Yes, even the ones who are offering you money to be your sugar daddy!)