For advertisers May 18, 2018

Fake followers and how to identify them

Influencer Marketing is a huge industry with impressive advertising budgets, hundreds of thousands of bloggers and advertisers, and an entire army of agencies, offering their services. Therefore, cases of fraud and scam are not uncommon in such a wide area. There are a lot of ways for cheating. Today we are going to talk about one of them — fake followers and subscribers some bloggers pass off as their true audience.


American agency Mediakix made a exemplary experiment last year. They created accounts on Instagram, uploaded beautiful photos from photobanks, bought fake followers. Then they produced false activity under each photo: bots liked and commented all their posts. After these preparations, they contracted with two brands for advertisement. Such things happen often nowadays! Marketers and business owners who don’t have the time, knowledge or possibility to check the audience, may cooperate with dishonest influencers and spend money on accounts with a fake audience.


So how to identify if a blogger’s audience is real? To resolve this issue you need to take time and use your deduction. To sort things out, we’ve prepared several useful tips.



Check correlation of followers and views


Before you decide to make advertising integration with the influencer, pay your attention to a quality of his audience. For example, there are 100 thousand subscribers on Youtube channel, but recent videos have less than one thousand views. More than likely this blogger has fake audience. Possibly influencer creates content that does not interest subscribers or even changed the subject of the blog and lost interest of the audience. This means only one thing for the brand — advertising message will not reach the viewer, and the budget will be wasted.



Estimate interaction with audience


It’s known that some bloggers buy not only followers but fake views of the video as well (speaking about YouTube). How to understand that the blogger is cheating? You need to estimate how the audience is engaging with content by checking the number of comments and likes under the post. For example, the video has more than 70 thousand of views. However, there are only several comments and likes. Likely, these views are fake and advertising integration with such influencers will not be effective.



Read comments below the post


There are many services that generate comments under posts for a fee. However, checking fake comments is simple enough by reading them carefully. One way or another, real comments form a discussion, argument or trigger an emotional dispute. Fake comments are short, usually (5–6 words), separate, irrelevant to the topic of the point of video or post. In other words, if you read comments and don’t understand what this video is about — those comments are probably fake.


If the conversation seems quite organic, do not rush to transfer money to the blogger’s account. Services which generate fake comments are developing permanently and improve the quality of their work. Leaders of this industry even can generate quite meaningful comments, which can be confused with the “human” conversation. In such case here is one more important tip! Check the profiles of commentators. Pay attention to the number of friends, photos, date of account registration. If the profile is empty — probably it’s a bot.



Finally, choose 10–15 commentators and write them a personal message. The real user will respond, bots — no. If a half of chosen ones answer, they are real people. It is one of the most reliable ways to test the audience of bloggers.


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