The Rise of Influencer Fraud
Weeding out Fake Influencers
Track Community Growth
Followers is a metric that brands flock to when choosing influencers. The more followers, the more they pay. Fake influencers, therefore, purchase followers. By tracking the follow/unfollow activity of influencers, you can identify normal and abnormal growth patterns.
In most cases community growth is consistent. Spikes in followers may be legit, but sometimes it’s not all it seems. This is especially the case when growth isn’t partnered with an increase in engagement too – which brings me to the next point.
Analyze Engagement Rates
Look at engagement rates (likes, comments, shares). If an influencer with thousands of followers only has a few likes, it’s likely that they’ve inflated their community artificially. This is usually achieved via bots or ‘engagement pods’, whereby individuals form alliances and boost engagement by interacting with each other. As a rule of thumb, the average Instagram like-rate is between 1% and 5% of the total following size.
Similarly to community growth, track engagement rates to spot anomalies. Surges are difficult to spot if you simply look at their most recent posts, so do it over a longer period of time. If you do spot a spike, conduct further research to understand the reason behind it. For example, this may be the result of press coverage or other brand partnerships. If you can’t find an explanation, avoid.
Out of context, identical and generic comments like “Cute”/“Love it!” or simply posting an emoji can be the outcome of purchased engagement and bots. If the comments are conversational, like people tagging their friends and personalized dialogue, this is much more telling of authentic following and engagement.
Monitor the Real Reach
The actual reach of an influencer is an extremely telling metric. When talking about reach, we’re referring to the number of people who see their posts. If an account has a community of mostly bots and inactive users, posts will be seen by very few. Any sufficient influencer marketing platform will be able to monitor the reach metric for you.
Study Their Network and Interactions
Influencers are often part of common networks; they interact with each other and go to the same events. If an account interacts with other influential social media accounts or is mentioned/tagged in pictures with other influencers, chances are high that they’re a real person with real influence.
Eliminating Manual Analysis
Vetting an influencer is critical if you wish to maintain your campaign and brand’s integrity – but it takes a lot of time. Luckily, you can remove the manual work of detecting influencer fraud by using a monitoring tool such as Meltwater.
Meltwater can suggest relevant influencers as well as measure the influencer’s true reach, community growth, engagement rates, audience demographics and more.