A recent investigation into the Instagram followings of the 2019 Love Island contestants has brought the debate about influencers and their value back into the limelight. It was revealed that each contestant has a majority of FAKE followers on their accounts, which have most likely been bought.

Why would someone buy followers? Well, being an influencer can be a lucrative game. A common misconception with Instagram accounts is that high following = high influence. This may be true if an influencer has put in the time and dedication to build up a highly engaged, organic following. However, more often than not, we’re seeing that this isn’t the case!

We collaborate with influencers on campaigns for many of our clients. So, being in the know about how to spot the fakers is essential. Here are a few things that we look out for when evaluating the merit of our collaborators.

  1. Following vs Engagement. How many followers does this person have, compared with the level of engagement they’re receiving on posts? If someone has 100,000 followers and only 100 likes on their posts – something’s not right!
  2. Number of Likes vs Comments. Do they have lots of likes but barely any comments? If it looks like their posts have a lot of likes but there’s some serious tumbleweed action in the comments section, this could be a sign that they’re buying the likes – and not a lot else is going on!
  3. Quality and relevance of post comments. If there are comments, have a little read through and take a moment to assess whether these comments are meaningful – or at least make any sense in the context of the posts! If you are getting a bit of a spam vibe, you’re probably right! These aren’t real followers with a real interest in this person’s content and, more importantly, with real, commercial potential for brand collaborators.
  4. Look at the quality of their followers. Have a scroll through the followers on their account. If there’s a lot of nonsensical combinations of letters, numbers and symbols in the handles, or a lot of accounts in completely different languages – scroll away! This “influencer” is not for you.
  5. Use an online tool. If in doubt, there are a bunch of tools online tools that can help you to assess the quality of an influencer’s following. You can try HypeAuditor or FakeCheck for starters.

The partnerships a brand chooses to make are a reflection on them. So, it’s incredibly important to get these collaborations right. There’s no point throwing a big budget at a campaign if you’re not producing something meaningful that your audience will connect with. And the more prolific influencer marketing becomes, the savvier audiences are to the tricks of the trade.

If you want advice on your next influencer campaign, get in touch!