An Influencer's Guide to Spotting A Fake Influencer
Let's start by saying this. An “influencer” is not a person who has 500 followers, or even 1000. Not even 10,000. Maybe I’m not even an influencer! We'll let the PR’s decide. Do you really see yourself influencing a person to buy a product when you yourself state every cream or foundation you get for free is good? Is that cake really that good, as compared to 100 other cakes you’ve had?
Additionally, big publications are allowing contributors to write ‘Top 10 [insert topic]Influencers’ lists which are not backed by data and are merely the opinions of the contributors. Not only that, I’m sure a lot of these contributors are simply giving out favours to get in these ‘Influencers'’ good books.
With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to distinguish those proper influencers from the pretenders...
1. Assess the Follower Count
Social Blade should be your influencer mannual. You can catch a fake “influencers” pretty easily using this tool
On an average, a blogger/influencer gets anywhere between 0-200 followers/day depending on their popularity. Let's put this into perspective; Forever21 has 13m followers and gets ~1000 followers/day, HudaBeauty has 22m followers and gets ~5000 followers/day, MuradOsmann has 4.8m followers and gets ~400 followers/day, SazanHendrix has 876k followers and gets ~500 followers/day.
The pictures below show the stats/graph of bloggers who have ~60k+ followers. Is it really possible for this blogger to get ~2k followers a day? That's only possible if you’ve been #reposted by a celeb! If the tallied picture immediately is not convincing, look at the two graphs underneath showcasing two different bloggers. See the jump in the number of followers? It’s supposed to be a smooth increasing graph...
2. Engagement Groups
Don’t believe the 100+ comments you see on EVERY.SINGLE.PICTURE on an ‘Influencers’ page. In order to play with the algorithm, almost all bloggers worldwide are in “Engagement Groups”. It’s a-tit for-tat kinda thing, you comment on my picture, I'll comment on yours. However, we need to be in these groups as it’s getting tough to beat Instagram’s algorithm! We can’t have 1-2 comments on our pictures, right?! We need to pop up on feeds, after all.
Where are these groups? Everywhere. Instagram (max of 15 people in a group), Telegram or WhatsApp (1000+ people), Facebook, anywhere!
It is okay to be in three or four groups or engage with around ~30 people if you upload 3+ images/day (that gets split to around ~10 comments per pic). BUT, I know bloggers who “engage” with 100+ people on Telegram or are on 7+ Instagram groups.
If you have 90k+ followers, 100+ comments and 4000+ likes on EVERY picture; your engagement % = +5%!!! Congratulations, you have an engagement rate higher than Barack Obama. A good engagement rate is always between 1.5-3%. Having engagement of only 1% is okay. Click here to learn how to calculate and here to see other celebs engagement rates (all less than 3% ish).
I used one software to illustrate how the comments of two bloggers suddenly increased out of nowhere….
This does not mean that influencers who have very few comments are fake. A follower can’t comment on every single picture!! This eventually makes us, real influencers feel threatened and, the ones who get weak, resort to buying engagement!
To put this in context, I have some images that have received a mere 20 comments but garnered over 20k impressions.
3. Number of Likes to Follow Ratio
As explained in a previous post, realistically, 2-3% is a really good amount of likes to get from your total number of followers, but it’s more typical to get between 1-2%. I have seen bloggers with ~1000 likes and 10k followers = 10% likes. Seriously? They’re more famous than a celebrity…
4. Number of Posts to Followers Ratio
You have 150 posts and 30k+ followers or 1000 posts and over 100k followers. How?
*Caveat – They may have just deleted their older pictures*
5. Stalk Their Followers/People Who Liked Their Pictures
If (consecutively) their follower’s pages look like this, you know it's bought.
Due to the hashtags we use, several bots follow me too via other people bots (such as Instagress, etc) and with the people I am convinced are fake influencers, the site shows they have bought only a few 1000’s followers. But Social Blade says otherwise...
6. Stalk Them *Outside* the Social Media Platform
I don’t mean hiding behind their car or outside their office. Research which magazines have posted about them. Have they written articles for magazines? What brands have interviewed them? What brands have they collaborated with? Was the result, “quality” content or just “quantity”?
7. Ask for Their Stats (impressions, reach, etc.)
If you’re a brand that wants to collaborate with a blogger, ensure you ask for the stats.
8. Beware of Photoshopped Stats!!
Yep, even impressions can be photoshopped. For more on that - read here.
About the author
Naomi D’Souza is a UAE-based Blogger, Mechanical Engineer, and Consultant. You can find the rest of her awesome blog articles here at naomidsouza.com, and make sure you're following her on her Insta channel here!