How to spot a fake Instagram influencer?

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Influencer Marketing is growing every day and there is no wonder it can be beneficial for your company. You can reach thousands of your target group by collaborating with influencers that promote your product. But how to choose the right one? And more importantly, how to spot a fake influencer?


Calculate their engagement rate

First, take a look at their engagement rate.  This is one of the easiest ways to determine whether an influencer is even worth your attention. The engagement rate is a combination of the engagement one Instagram account receives – likes and comments, plus the total followers the account has. It can be calculated for only one post, multiple posts (the most recent 3,5,10 posts) or for all of the posts that the account has.

There are two ways to calculate the engagement rate of an Instagram influencer – with the help of an engagement calculator or you can do it manually. If you decide to use an engagement calculator, you will save a lot of time. Plus, you will be able to see some other insights like what’s the average liking of a photo and how many comments the account gets on average. You can search online for a good engagement calculator or choose my personal favorite – Triberr.


Of course, you can also do it manually. This will take some time, but you will be able to get the most accurate numbers that you are interested in.

For example, you would want to review and calculate the last 15 posts of the influencer, instead of the full content. After all, you don’t care about their comments and likes from over a year ago. To calculate the engagement rate of an Instagram account, use this formula:


You should get the result in a percentage. Here is the industry standard:
Finding someone with a good engagement rate is a great way to start the list of potential influencers, but that is not all. Some influencers try to beat the Instagram algorithm by being a part of a POD. 


Analyze their community

There are a lot of ways to cheat and beat the algorithm and some influencers take these opportunities to fake their engagement. They buy and exchange fake followers, likes, and comments or they join a POD.

A POD is a group of 15 people from the same niche, who are required to interact with each other every time a member posts something on their feed.

Usually, the interaction involves liking the post and leaving a genuine comment, related to the topic of the specific post (they are not bots after all). The worst thing about PODs is that they are very common among influencers and many people use them. So, spend some time analyzing their community and pay close attention to the comments on their recent post. 

Try to go through as many profiles as you can. This will introduce you to their community. These are the people you will promote your products to. If you notice that the same account is commenting on their posts, look at the profile and search for comments from your potential influencer. If they are commenting on every one of the photos, there is something wrong.

But does that mean that every one of the comments is from people using the same POD?

No, that would be crazy. Once you start growing your community you will see how the same people come to your posts every day. Of course, some of them will leave comments on every one of your pictures.

And you might even want to build a relationship with that person and comment back on some of their photos. But it is highly unlikely for an influencer to comment on EVERY one of the pictures.

Spend some time analyzing their audience before you add the influencer to your list. After all, you want to make sure that you have chosen the right person and you are promoting to your target group.


Analyze their profile

Follow their profile for a couple of days and inspect their account. Look for daily changes in their followers. Also, pay attention to how their posts are performing, once they are uploaded. If you notice a sudden increase in their post’s likes or comments in a very short period of time, there is a chance that they are using bots.


Google them

If you are still unsure whether the influencer is trying to scam you, try to find them on Google. An influencer with a good Instagram following should have plenty of pictures online and a link to at least one other Social Media platform. It can be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, even LinkedIn. If an influencer has a good following on Facebook and Pinterest, he/she is most likely legitimate.


Check the quality of their content

Instagram is a visual platform and sharing high-quality content is the only way to go. That’s why you have to find it suspicious if the influencer has poor-quality pictures and videos. On another note, why would you want to associate your brand with an influencer who posts bad content?

You must like the style of the influencer and make sure that your products will look good on their feed.


Ask for their insights

Before agreeing on collaboration, always ask for their analytics. This will give you a lot of information about their demographics and account.

You will be able to know how many people your product could reach. But be careful, these shots can be photoshopped.

If you are talking to the influencer in your Instagram DMs, there is something you can do. Wait for them to get online and request the insights of one of their post’s insights.

After all, your product will be one of their posts and you want to know how many people they reach with one post. If they don’t send you the screenshot right away, there might be something wrong.


Use social tools to analyze their profile

There are various tools that can analyze the influencers’ profiles instead of you. For example, you can use tools to analyze how many fake followers the account has. Most of them are paid services, but IG Audit is free and it can give you the same answer.

However, the tools I’ve used before to identify fake followers and likes have not returned accurate results. If you can do the research yourself, that’s your best shot.

Use all of these before choosing influencers for your products. If you work with a fake influencer you won’t get great results. Your reach and profile views on Instagram won’t go much higher.

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