We often find ourselves scrolling endlessly on social, envying influencers living their dream lives in a bikini, swimming in private beaches in the Bora Bora islands, drinking their matcha bubble teas, and leaving us with a major sense of “FOMO”.
The term “influencer” has become a buzzword in the marketing / advertising /PR industry for a while now, and the whole industry has shaped itself around the influencer realm. In the past, brand endorsements would only be entrusted to movie or sports celebrities or high-end models. However, lately we have seen endorsements being scattered between celebrities and influencers alike.
Influencers who have grown their reach through their content on various media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram have gotten successful in grabbing some wonderful endorsement opportunities with some renowned brands all over the world. Moreover, brands have seen a better ROI through influencers than celebrities, because an influencer’s connection with their followers is far more personal and direct than that of celebrities.
In this new era of influencer marketing, a lot of individuals with great talents have found unique ways to enter into the influencer web and made themselves known through their brilliant content, and eventually have been discovered by brands, and been part of amazing ad campaigns.
With this emergence of influencer marketing, there has simultaneously also been an emergence of fake influencers on social media, especially on Instagram, wherein brand endorsements are found in abundance. Since brands are keen on having their reach on a vast majority, in order to get effective leads, they will naturally incline to influencers with larger numbers of followers, and this is why some influencers have infiltrated the network, by growing their numbers artificially in order to grab campaigns from brands.
There are thousands of such fake influencers on Instagram, who have sought easier ways to grab marketing opportunities by showing large numbers and fooling brands into believing that they are genuine. Unfortunately, genuine hardworking creators, putting out brilliant content out there are the ones suffering due to the rampage of these fake influencers.
Fortunately, if you have an eye for detail, you could recognize who these fake influencers are. Below are some ways you could find if the influencer you are following on Instagram is genuine or a full-fledged fake.
- Number of posts vs number of followers
Compare the two snapshots of two different Instagram influencers. Let us call them A & B. A is the one with 183 posts and 10k followers and B is the one with 3,681 posts and 88.3k followers.
Which one do you think is the genuine one among these two? The genuine one is the one with 3681 posts, because it is clear that he/she has grown over time, as compared to the one with just 183 posts.
However, this could be wrong in a scenario wherein the influencer with 183 posts is an established person in a different platform such as a blog or a YouTube channel, or perhaps a celeb who is not very active on Instagram. The 10k followers he /she has could be from their previously established base on YouTube or their Blog page, or in the case of a celeb, it could be their fan base.
2. Years active on Instagram
An influencer’s active years on Instagram can also assess their authenticity to an extent. A genuine influencer would be active on Instagram for a longer period, and would have grown through all those years into an established influencer. On the other hand, a fake influencer could just be active for a few months with minimum posts, but could have purchased followers through an external source. There are plenty of ways to gain followers, likes and event comments on your profile.
You could get your hands on the account information from tapping on the three dots on top right end of an account.
Then click on the option – About this account
Below are the screenshots of both the above profiles. Influencer A has been active only from December 2018, and rose to a followers’ count of 10k in a span of mere 1 year and 2 months with just 183 posts. Seems unnatural, isn’t it?
Whereas influencer B has been on Instagram from the year 2012, and eventually grown to 88.3k followers with 3,681 posts, and obviously some good content.
Again, this could be wrong in the case of someone who has a stronger base elsewhere – like a YouTube channel, Blog page, or even in the case of a celeb who has very recently joined Instagram. (For Example – Jennifer Anniston joined Instagram some months ago and within just a day or two, she had millions of followers).
3. Irrelevant comments
You could find many of these fake influencers being part of engagement groups, wherein they decide to comment randomly on each other’s posts in order to increase the engagement rates on their posts. Very often in this process, the comments are complete irrelevant to what the post actually is.
They could also utilize bots to generate absolutely random comments, just with the motive of increasing the number of comments, thereby increasing engagement rate on the picture.
For example, please find some screenshots below of comments on the post of an influencer who has 365k followers with just 269 posts. The post is a picture of him, with his back facing the camera, while he holds a red rose. The caption to the picture is “Happy Valentine’s Day”.
However just have a look at the different comments this picture has received, they are absolutely random, they have nothing to do with what is in the picture, and quite absurd to an extent. So this is how you’ll know if an influencer is buying engagement via bots.
4. Check the followers
Most of the times these artificial followers have a trait in common, they have generic usernames – like “@tony000001”, “@suraj_789595857” , “@riyablue098765” etc.
Moreover, if you check the profiles of these accounts, you will notice that most of these accounts have zero posts, zero or very few followers, but the number of accounts that they follow is huge. These accounts are created just for the sake of following the accounts that have purchased followers. Below are some examples for your reference.
Zero Post, zero or very less amount of followers, but accounts being followed are close to a thousand or more.
So when you spot such followers on an Instagram influencer’s followers list, they have most probably invested some bucks in buying them artificially.
5. Influencer Marketing Hub
Influencer marketing hub is an online platform for influencer marketing, social media monitoring etc. They have tools devised on their platform that compute and analyze influencers’ engagement rates, earning per post and so on.
They have also this tool- “Instagram audience credibility checker”, wherein you can input a username you would like and it would compute roughly the authenticity of that account’s followers, through their analytical tools.
Below are the screenshots of the analysis of our Influencers “A” & “B” from the very top (A with 183 posts and 10k followers, and B with 3681 posts and 88.3k followers)
Even though influencer A has an excellent engagement rate, and a good like to comment ratio in comparison to Influencer B, (because clearly it has been purchased / it is artificial engagement), please note that the “audience quality score” for Influencer A is much lesser than that of Influencer B. The comments for Influencer A’s are also quite accurate – authenticity can be improved, anomalies detected, some comments look inauthentic etc.
So , this is how my dear friends you’ll be able to differentiate between real and fake influencers on Instagram. Let us be more mindful of people we follow on Instagram, and pay attention to genuine content creators who work really hard to churn out genuine content on various social media platforms.
Until next time !