How to spot fake influencers to ensure your collaborations are worth it

How to spot fake influencers to ensure your collaborations are worth it

What if there was an easy way to root out fake influencers to ensure that you gain real results from your influencer collaborations?

Spotting fake followers and inauthentic engagement is the number one challenge for marketers according to US marketers and I believe this is true for businesses in Australia too. 

Spotting fake influencers is actually easier than you first think!

First let's talk about what a fake influencer is.

A fake influencer is someone who has purchased followers and likes from automated services. Also referred to as ‘Influencer fraud’ these individuals artificially increase their following and/or engagement to seem more influential to take advantage of the trend of businesses increasing spending on influencer marketing. As a result, on the surface they look like influencers but actually do not influence many/any people. In other words, they have no real influence. So working with them wouldn’t yield any real results.

Fake influencers result in poor results from your campaign so you absolutely want to sniff them out and only work with genuine influencers. Fake influencers cost you money and potential growth. 

Because influencer marketing is about building trust and credibility in your brand using fake influencers can result in your potential customers creating negative/low quality opinions about your brand.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no extra cost to you I will receive an affiliate commission.

How to spot fake influencers

If you don’t have the time, energy and expertise to manually investigate each potential influencer for your campaign you’ll want to use a tool that will complete all of the analysis for you so you can focus on more high level tasks. I use Hype Auditor to get in-depth details on a potential Instagram influencer for my clients. (I also love Hype Auditor’s discovery tool to find potential Instagram influencers.) 

It is easy to check influencers legitimacy using Hype Auditor (and they give you 3 free reports to try them out. So don’t just take my word for it!) 

All you need to do is type in the social media handle of the influencer and then click on their profile. The report will take a minute or two to process then you’ll have all the information.

I understand that buying another tool for your business can be a stretch but if you want to ensure the best ROI on your influencer efforts then it is worth investing in a tool to help you remove fake influencers. I’ll include for each element a manual way to check for those of you who are bootstrapping your influencer campaign. 

Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is the percentage of followers who engage (interact) with the content of the account that they are following. 

Engagement rate takes into account all interacts such as watching a video or swiping to see more images. 

Manual: A low tech metric you can use to get a gauge on engagement rate is like ratio. Look at the ratio of their followers to likes on their posts. Engagement rates decrease as overall followers increase and also vary by industry. Compare influencers to similar influencers in size and industry to get an idea of what the ranges of engagement are. 

Hype Auditor: The first thing you’ll look at is at is the ER (engagement rate). This is a surface level metric so dig deeper into the engagement rate compared to simialr accounts and the likes-comment ratio compared to similar accounts.

Community Growth

A quick and simple way to spot fake followers is to look for huge spikes and dips in followers and engagement. Look for inconsistent growth and dramatic changes in followers as these indicate an account has bought followers. Another common tactic fakers use is to follow other people in order to get that person to follow back. 

Manual: Use a free tool such as Social Blade to see a snapshot of an individuals followers/following over a 30 day period.

Hype Auditor: The Growth section lets you know if there is any incentivised following patterns. It always good to check the audience authenticity too which gives a snapshot of if the followers are authentic.

Authentic Growth Influencer
Screen shot from Hype Auditor report for an authentic influencer
Audience Authenticity Influencer
Screen shot from Hype Auditor report for an authentic influencer

Comment number and quality

It takes more time for followers to write a comment so having a large number of comments shows authentic influence. However, as with likes, influencers can purchase comments or participate in pods. The purchases comments are usually low quality and spammy. They don’t match the photo or caption or add any meaning to the conversation.

Manual: Instagram pods are a little harder to spot but you can do it manually. First check the influencers past 10 posts and look for consistent commenters. Then head to those accounts and see if the influencer has comments on a number of the commenters last posts. Usually you see the same 5-10+ people commenting on the commenters post too.

Hype Auditor: An easier way is to let the technology do it for you. See the screen shot below of a potentially fake influencer that the software detected as being likely to be participating in Instagram Pods.

Comments Authenticity Fake Influencer
Screen shot from Hype Auditor of a potentially fake influencer who is likely to be participating in Instagram Pods

Audience (Followers) quality

In order to influence they must have an audience that is reachable and authentic. 

Manual: Do they reply to comments, do they do lives, do they share to their stories? Are they consistent?

Hype Auditor: Audience reachability looks at how likely the followers of the account are to see the content they are posting. You can also look at the audience authenticity to gauge the audience quality. 


Mel ecopreneur coach sitting on a hanging swing

Hi, I’m Mel. 

Business and mindset coach for eco-minded entrepreneurs who want to ditch the overwhelm and frustration to build a thriving business while having a positive impact on our environment. 

Click here to learn about my coaching packages

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