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How to Spot an Uninfluential “Influencer”

September 4, 2019

It’s an influencers’ world, and we’re all living in it. That’s what they think anyway.

But, as effective as influencer marketing can be, not all that claim they are influencers are actually influential…at all.

We often get asked to research relevant social media influencers for brands or to handle incoming requests from pages promising the world in exchange for a paid post.

But finding a suitable influencer isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.

Most clients don’t have a budget to get David Beckham to post about their brand, so we’re mostly dealing with people who aren’t even Z-listers, they’re simply micro-influencers who have managed to build a solid following.


When searching for influencers, you should have a benchmark for what amount of followers you consider large enough to pay for (be it in products or money).

You should then categorise tiers. So, say you’re happy to gift influencers with 5,000 followers with one of your products, then there should be a next tier that you may be happy to gift and pay £200 for a post and several other tiers including one at the top that includes people you are willing to pay a substantial amount in exchange for the right sort coverage.

What to look out for

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Follower ratio

Just because someone has 10,000 Instagram followers and 10,000 Twitter followers, it doesn’t mean that they’re an influencer or have any sort of influence at all.

If someone follows 20,000 people and has 10,000 followers then they’re likely to be much less valuable than someone who follows 400 people but has 6,000 followers.

Follow-for-follow is a growth strategy that many profiles use, but a lot of the time it just fills up the following with irrelevant people who have no influence and will bring no value to brands.

Fake Followers

There are tools that allow you to check how many fake followers an account has, such as Twitter Audit. If an account has anywhere near double figures of fake followers, then that is a big red flag. Working with someone who has a large number of fake followers is something we strongly advise against.

These types of accounts may promise hundreds of followers per post they publish, but chances are these will be low quality, bots and the like.

Some people are obsessed followers, so they will take them regardless, but we advise against this for so many reasons that we might have to write a whole blog about it.

Engagement Rates

Sometimes it’s difficult to track fake followers, then you can look for other indicators. Engagement is another way of looking for fake followers. If an account has 100,000 followers and it barely gets any comments and a suspiciously low amount of likes then it is a clear sign that the audience is of low quality. If they’re not fake then they’re an unengaged following that will do little for your business.

Fake Engagement

Some accounts have got more advanced fake followers, ones that even engage with posts by liking and commenting. But it usually doesn’t take much digging before you realise that the engagement is fake.

Comments such as “great post”, “awesome” and “thanks for sharing” are standard bot comments. There has been a trend where real people have started to comment like bots, which may confuse it for some. But if you do a bit of digging you’ll realise whether someone has sarcastically commented on a post or not. All it takes is a couple of seconds of profile stalking, which brings us to the next point.

Analysing Followers AKA Catching a Catfish

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If you’re in doubt about an account being real or fake, then we can give you a few things to look out for:

  1. No posts
  2. Strange links in the bio
  3. All posts have been added on the same day (Instagram)
  4. Fake photos
  5. No profile picture
  6. Repetitive posts
  7. A low number of friends (Facebook)
  8. Random locations

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool but it takes nuance and understanding. Avoid the pitfalls of falling for fake influencers and use a social media specialist. We offer complete digital solutions whether it be organic social media, PPC, SEO, website content generation or full website rebuilds. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you with your digital engagement.




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