How to Identify Fake Instagram Influencers & Find Authentic Ones

Did you know that over $1 billion dollars was spent on Instagram influencer marketing in 2017?

As Social Media Strategists it worries us when we see brands collaborating with fake influencers. It’s incredibly easy, cheap and tempting to buy followers and likes – you can even buy Instagram followers from vending machines!

So how can you identify fake influencers and find authentic ones?

Before you get to signing any contracts check out our 5 ways to check the legitimacy of that super cute influencer you can’t wait to work with:

  • Check Their Follower to Following Ratio

It’s a tell tale sign of authenticity.

Insta users can quickly gain followers by paying a bot to follow an indiscriminate number of profiles, waiting for them to follow back, and unfollowing them in batches.

Look out for Influencers that follow 1 to 5% of their total following. Anything much higher than that is likely the result of growth bots. Although these types of followers are real users, they lack fandom, loyalty, and connection.

NB: Of course, if they are a celebrity or if they have been in the news lately, this rule doesn’t hold up. But it’s a good test for the average account.

  • Check Their Engagement to Follower Ratio

Another quick way to make sure you’re getting good bang for your buck with Instagram influencer marketing is to see check their engagement to follower ratio.

Check at least 10 of your influencer’s posts to gauge their average engagement rate. Generally, you’ll want to see an engagement rate (comments and likes) of 2 to 3%.

Of course, because of the ever changing algorithms, their posts won’t be shown to all of their followers, so these numbers are just general guidelines.

NB: look out for comments like “great post” – signs of bot usage. Check the comments are legitimate connections and that the influencer is engaging back (by either liking and/or replying).

  • Look at the Lifespan of Their Account

It can take real influencers years to build a loyal and legitimate following. Check the influencers first Instagram post – chances are that if they set up their account a few months ago and have 10,000 followers, they will have been bought.

NB: Of course, if they are a celebrity or if they have been in the news lately, this rule doesn’t hold up. But it’s a good test for the average account.

  • Check the Quality of Their Content

What people “like” on Instagram is often subjective, but if you’re in the brand world, you’ll know quality when you see it. Regardless of follower size, if an influencer’s content is bad, move onto the next one. Remember they will be representing your brand and you will only want the best.

NB: Look for influencers who clearly laid out their grid and were creative in paid for posts.

  • Use Third Party Influencer Search Tools

We like to use Social Blade. It provides a ton of insights and analytics and allows you to search for users on the three major platforms. You can see the number of followers an influencer has gained and lost every day across a period of time. If you notice any big “jumps” in follower growth with, it could mean that the influencer is using a bot or bought followers.

As the saying goes, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. And same goes for Instagram influencers. Follow our due diligence checks before you decide to partner with influencers in 2018.