The more brands invest in influencer marketing, the more wannabe influencers will pump up their follower counts to make themselves marketable. It’s become a serious issue for marketers, which is why online entertainment company Fullscreen and social media intelligence provider CreatorIQ have created a report on follower fraud.
Some Instagram accounts have followings that are 20 percent bots, the report says, and 9 to 15 percent of Twitter accounts are fake. Unilever announced this summer that it will no longer work with any influencers who buy followers. To help brands ensure they’re only working with influencers who have grown their follower counts organically, the report offers these six takeaways:
1. They’re Hot in Brazil
When looking for fakes, look for a lot of activity in places that are rife with click farms. Over-indexing in Brazil is one common giveaway.
2. Not the Norm
Evaluate influencers by comparing their audiences with established and benchmarked norms. A data platform like CreatorIQ can provide a wealth of historical data, which helps show red flags.
3. Sudden Ups and Downs
Organic follower growth is typically slow and steady. Creators with fake followers, on the other hand, see sharp increases after making purchases, and sharp declines following bot purges.
4. Broken Engagements
If an influencer has a lot of followers, look to see if they’re engaged—meaning actually watching the work and commenting. If the follower count is high, but total engagement is low, there are plenty of fake followers.
5. Check the Engagement Rate
A better way of measuring engagements is to look at the engagement rate. Again, a data platform like CreatorIQ can show what a normal engagement rate looks like.
6. Wave the Flag
Just because a report has a flag on it doesn’t automatically mean brands should stay away. It’s often worth looking a little deeper. For example, a creator might have strong follower numbers from a suspicious country because they regularly appear on TV there and have developed an audience.
For more on fighting follower fraud, download the full report for free (registration required).