Influencer marketing is one of the most profitable ways to market on the internet. The claimed returns of $6.50 for every $1 make it by far the best marketing channel. But, the questions abound about the legitimacy of many of these influencers?

Estimates have indicated that as many as 10% of accounts on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are fake.

Many of the massive followings that celebrities have gained over the years are comprised of fake followers. Now, not all of their followers are fake, but a good portion of their followers are actually fake accounts. Plus, anyone can buy likes, shares, retweets, favorites, or anything else for a very cheap price.

All of this is ruining influencer marketing for businesses. This article will cover how to spot fake followers, why it’s ruining influencer marketing, and what the future of influencer marketing looks like.

Spotting Fake Followers
Discovering which accounts have fake followers and which accounts do not have fake followers is not particularly difficult. It just requires looking at the right metrics. With that said, there are not any definitive methods for determining if an account has fake followers. These methods should work most of the time though.

Random Spike in Followers
Building up a large number of followers is not something that occurs quickly. It almost always takes a lot of time to build up followers.

Therefore, if you notice that a Pinterest influencer has a sudden spike in Pinterest followers, then this generally means that they have purchased Pinterest followers at some point.

Organic growth is generally slow and steady. It will start to grow bigger as the reach gets further but still will say consistent.

However, sometimes there are accounts that have a viral post and receive a massive spike in followers. This is why you should examine what the account posted around the time they gained the followers. Most of the time it will be nothing of significance because they purchased Instagram followers. Sometimes you will see an obviously viral post, which could explain the spike in followers.
You should still use other methods to verify that the account has not purchased followers.

Poor Engagement
Poor engagement is probably the best way to spot an account with fake followers. If you see an account that has thousands of followers but only receives a handful of likes on their posts, then they probably purchased followers.

Even if they did not purchase followers, it means they have bad engagement. Avoid working with influencers that have bad engagement.

A more complex scenario is if the account has an engagement that is too high. For instance, if they have 10,000 Instagram followers and receive 40,000 Instagram likes on an image, then they most likely purchased Instagram likes. This is probably more common than fake followers because fake likes are much cheaper. The effect is still the same though.

Overall, just don’t work with accounts that have poor engagement. It usually signals that the influencer purchased followers. It may also indicate that they didn’t purchase followers but just have bad engagement. Bad engagement is not useful for marketing anyway.

If the extremely high engagement, then you should be even more cautious. Accounts that rely on organic growth should not receive more likes and comments than the number of followers they have. That is just not how things on Instagram work.

Avoid accounts like that as well.

Unusual Demographics
Another great tactic to spot fake followers is to check the demographics of the followers. Specifically, look at their location. If you notice a large number of followers from a different geographic area, then those are probably purchased followers.

For instance, an influencer that posts about Savannah, Georgia should not have a large number of followers from Russia. It just does not make sense nor is it particularly effective if the followers are actually real.

You should be especially cautious if the influencer has a large number of followers from a foreign country that does not speak English. Russia, Ukraine, and India all seem to be the most common countries where fake followers originate. However, fake followers come from every country, just look through the followers and look for anything unusual.

Why Not Use Fake Followers
Fake followers are just not an effective way to build a brand on Instagram for a few different reasons.

Lower user engagement
It does this because the followers are fake. They cannot like, comment, or share anything that you post on Instagram. Now, some users decide to purchase likes, comments, and shares to make up for this lack of engagement. At this point, it just leads to an added expense and more work than doing it organically.

Fake Followers Disappear
Fake followers eventually disappear. This could be because you stopped paying the monthly retainer to keep the follower.

Usually, it is just because Instagram discovers the accounts are fake and bans them though. Having a declining number of followers looks very bad for your brand as well.

Permanently Ruins Your Account
One of the more serious reasons not to use fake followers is that they will permanently ruin your account.

Instagram will remove, or lower, your account from search, Explore, and the news feed once they have detected that you have purchased fake followers.

You cannot recover either. The only is to start a new Instagram account.

Against the Terms of Service
It is against the Instagram Terms of Service to purchase fake followers.

Instagram can, and will, permanently ban you from purchasing fake followers if they catch you doing it.
Your Instagram getting banned from purchasing fake followers would look very bad. It could destroy your brand pretty quickly too.

Final Thoughts
Overall, don’t purchase fake followers on Instagram and do not use influencers that have purchased fake followers. It makes your account look bad if you use fake followers. Influencers that have fake followers will not be near as effect either.

The best way is always the organic method. It takes longer, but the results are much better.

Author's Bio: 

Content written by: SF