Fake Follower Check: Metrics & Tools to analyze Fake Followers

June 11, 2024
10 Min
Ines Bertani
| Author
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Fake Follower Check: Metrics & Tools to analyze Fake Followers

Finding the right influencers to work with is a crucial step when deciding to invest in influencer marketing. It can be challenging, as there are many factors to keep in mind when analyzing a potential influencer for your brand, and one essential factor is credibility. Why is this important, and how is it measured? 

Credibility analyzes the composition of the influencer’s audience based on how many of their followers are real people, suspicious accounts or fake followers. Knowing this is crucial to make sure that you'll be reaching real accounts through the influencer which may interact with your content, and therefore to avoid wasting your budget.

In this article, we’ll get a better understanding of the current problem of fake followers on social media platforms, both for your brand’s channels and for the influencers you engage with. We'll discuss the ways in which we can measure the percentage of fake followers an influencer has, and therefore guarantee their audience credibility. This can be done either manually or by using specific influencer marketing tools.

What are fake followers and how can they affect brands?

Fake followers are inactive or fake social media accounts, including bots, that are usually created to mass-follow other social media profiles for money. Unfortunately, this is a growing business in social media marketing. Both brands and influencers may buy followers to increase their reputation, believing that a larger audience will enhance their market perception.

However, this works exactly the opposite way. Building an audience with fake followers can be detected through various methods we'll discuss later on. Once exposed, it can ruin the brand or influencer’s image. Additionally, it lowers engagement since these followers won’t interact with their content.

Therefore, fake followers represent a risk for brands on both ways:

  1. Having fake followers on your own social media platforms.
  2. Aligning with influencers who have a large number of fake followers within their audiences.

Let’s explore the main reasons for both cases!

1. How can fake followers hurt your brand’s social media account?

  • They will lower your engagement rate as they won't be interacting with your content, keeping you overall metrics at a lower level.
  • They harm potential partnerships. Influencers could take a look at your account before accepting a brand collaboration and may notice suspicious followers or sudden brand follower growth.
  • They make your account overall less credible. For example, suspicious comments on your posts may look like you’ve purchased fake engagement.

It's inevitable to get some fake accounts following you since they are likely paid to follow accounts randomly. However, this can affect your reputation, as you want to avoid other accounts noticing that a large part of your audience consists of these fake accounts. That’s why it’s important to conduct manual and frequent checks and clean up fake followers on your Instagram page or other social media platforms, to ensure you have an organic and engaged audience.

2. How can fake followers affect your influencer marketing campaigns?

Engaging with influencers who have fake followers will make you waste your budget since they will be promoting your product to fake accounts such as bots and inactive accounts.

That’s why it’s essential to audit the amount of fake followers an influencer has before partnering up with them. 

Let's discuss the different ways you can identify fake followers for both your own brand’s account and the influencers you’re planning to engage with!

How to check an influencer’s Fake Followers

1. Calculate the Engagement Rate

The engagement rate (ER) calculates the overall interaction the audience has with the influencer’s content. It measures the amount of shares, clicks, saves, likes and comments on a social media post. If an influencer has a large amount of fake or mass followers within their audience, the engagement rate will be unusually low, as these accounts are mostly inactive. Therefore, calculating their engagement rate can provide some insights about their audience composition and behavior.

To calculate the engagement rate percentage, you can follow the formula below, or you can just use our free engagement rate calculator.

Engagement Rate=(Total Engagements​/Total Followers or Impressions )×100

What average ER would be suspicious for having a large amount of fake followers? It’s hard to establish a benchmark since it depends on each niche or category and the size of the creators. However, our records show that a solid average ER varies from 1% to 2%, depending on the influencer's following size. Typically, we expect a bit higher ERs from smaller accounts. Therefore, an ER between 0% and 0.5% could be suspicious, and it’s best to try to avoid such accounts.

2. Scan some of the influencer’s followers profiles

You can manually try to spot fake followers within the influencer’s audience by clicking on some of their followers profiles. Some potential signs which indicate fake accounts include:

a. Generic or limited profiles

  • Few or no posts.
  • If they have any posts, these could be mainly stock images with no real people
  • Random or spammy usernames
  • No description or bio
  • Missing profile image
  • Skewed Following To Followers Ratio: following a large number of accounts but they have a very small number of followers

b. Suspicious engagement on their posts

Scan through some of their posts and take a look at the comments on them. In the current business of fake followers, it's quite common to buy them to comment on posts to increase engagement. These can be identified by repetitive and generic comments that don’t completely relate to the influencer’s content or are not personal. 

If you see a majority of these types of comments, such as “Great post” or only emojis, you can click on a few of them to double-check if these profiles show signs of being fake accounts by following the steps described above.

Spam comments from fake followers can be easily detected within a post

3. Unusual follower growth rate

When an influencer buys fake followers, we can typically see a sudden spike in their follower growth rate, followed by a quick drop, instead of a more consistent growth over time.

An influencer might have rapid organic growth if any of their content goes viral, but this is usually followed by a more stable period instead of a marked up-and-down pattern. Therefore, it may be good to look at this rate over the last 3 to 6 months to notice any suspicious increases in their follower base.

Tools for doing a Fake Followers check

By following the tips described above, you can manually review an influencer’s audience and try to identify fake accounts to estimate the amount of fake followers they have. However, this can be time-consuming, especially for macro influencers, and it is hard to scale if you’re working with a large number of influencers.

Therefore, the most effective way to get credibility stats on an influencer’s audience is through an influencer marketing tool.

How Influencer Hero can Assist with Fake Followers Check

Influencer Hero is an all-in-one platform that simplifies the entire influencer marketing campaign process. It helps you find the right influencers with multiple advanced filters, streamlines communication and negotiation, and gathers data on your campaign's performance.

While searching for influencers worldwide and across multiple platforms, you can view their analytics, including insights on their audience composition, such as demographics and credibility.

Types of Followers

Our software identifies four types of followers within an influencer’s audience:

  • Real people: Human followers with real and active accounts. This is your target audience with whom you want to connect.
  • Influencers: Other creators who also generate content for a living. Influencers often support each other by commenting on each other’s posts to help increase engagement. Therefore, an account with a majority of influencers following isn't ideal, as they are not your target audience or potential customers.
  • Mass followers: Accounts that follow a lot of influencers indiscriminately, typically more than 1,500 accounts. This can be a sign that they don’t actively interact with all their following accounts, since Instagram’s algorithm won’t show content from most of the accounts they are following.
  • Suspicious accounts:  These show overall behavior or characteristics that raise doubts about their legitimacy. These are potential fake followers or bots.

Both mass followers and suspicious accounts are perceived by brands as red flags for account authenticity and credibility. 

Influencer Hero provides influencer’s analytics such as audience type and demographics

Credibility percentage

According to the followers types’ segmentation, Influencer Hero’s analytics also offers a percentage of audience credibility. Though it is hard to establish a parameter of credibility you should consider for working with an influencer, the median audience credibility for influencers is around 60 to 75%, depending on their followers size. Our influencer marketing software will provide insight not only on the percentage but the range in which this is normal for the market. 

However, it is suggested that you make a decision based not only on fake followers % but on the overall picture. Take a look at other metrics such as engagement rate and audience demographics to see if it is worthy to invest in them.

Audience credibility is a key factor in determining an influencer’s potential to reach your target audience

In addition to the full version, you can access our free fake follower check, which allows you to audit Instagram profiles and get quick insights about their audience's quality and other important KPIs. This will ensure that you connect with influencers who have genuine followers and authentic engagement. 

Check out this article to learn more about how Influencer Hero detects fake followers.

Data and Insights Our Free Fake Follower Check Tool Provides

1. Audience Location

It's probably useless to partner with an influencer who has +1M followers and can get you wide reach while 70% of their audience is located in Japan, if you have a store located in the United States which only ships products there. It’s essential to ensure you are targeting the right audience, by analyzing every detail of the influencer’s audience.

2. Audience Demographics

This includes audience gender split and age demographics. These factors ensure that you reach precisely the people within your target audience. For example, if you are a maternity brand selling baby products, it would be essential to collaborate with an influencer whose primary audience consists of females aged 25-45.

3. Fake Followers Percentage

Our tool provides a percentage of fake followers and its average across market, regarding influencers from the same size. As discussed, it’s essential to make sure that you’re partnering with influencers who have an authentic and engaging audience.

4. Estimated Sales & EMV (Earned media Value)

All marketers are eager to estimate how much an influencer could sell, as ultimately all marketing strategies come down to sales. Our tool will assist you in predicting estimated sales and EMV, according to their previous performance and overall KPI’s.

5. Follower growth rate

As we saw previously, follower growth during the last few months is one indicator of audience credibility. Additionally, it is one of the main metrics that correlates with conversion, as an active and increasing audience will impact the campaign’s performance.

Influencer Hero’s Free Fake Follower Checker tool provides data on audience credibility, demographics and other essential KPIs

To sum up

Fake followers are something all brands should avoid, both within their own social media platforms and within the audience of influencers they partner with. Therefore, it's essential to conduct regular fake follower checks to ensure your social media audience is genuine and to invest in influencers who have a real and engaging audience.

You can manually check for fake followers by scanning through their profiles and content. Alternatively, to predict whether your brand or an influencer has a large number of fake followers, you can look at metrics such as engagement rate or follower growth rate.

For a more detailed analysis of an influencer’s audience composition and quality, consider using influencer marketing tools. These tools will help you ensure that you align with genuine and authentic influencers. This is crucial since an influencer's audience is their most valuable resource for you.

Check out our free fake follower checker and scanner tool to scan for fake followers and get additional metrics essential to ensure you partner with a high-potential influencer!

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