Beware: Fake Influencers
Influencers are currently the “Holy Grails” in marketing when it comes to acquiring new customers. They are the ideal advertising medium for younger target audiences. Unfortunately, they are also a hotbed for swindlers and scammers. Our blog explains how to spot fake influencers.
Every marketing and advertising expert points out the enormous significance of the Instagram, YouTube etc. stars; companies are gladly willing to invest large sums of money for influencers. Even small companies use influencers to better market their products – a fact would-be stars are also aware of. Making use of fake accounts and bots, these “wannabes” are not afraid of presenting themselves as “the ultimate influencers”.
Fake influencers can be very expensive for companies. They are not only paying large sums of money and providing them with products free of charge, the companies also forego the opportunity to work with further suitable partners.
Becoming a fake influencer is easier than you might think
Anyone who believes that becoming a fake influencer involves a lot of effort is mistaken. Everything that is needed can be found at a low price on the Internet. And one doesn’t even have to descend into the depths of the Darknet. These services are official offers.
For instance, bots can be purchased for Instagram. Bots are programs that automatically post pictures, follow and unfollow others, and leave “likes” or comments. These can be connected to specific hashtags. For instance, every picture with the hashtag “sunrise” gets the comment: “Great pic” or “Wow”. A follower community is quickly created.
In addition, the bots are also provided as “account administration programs”. They are supposed to make life easier for Instagram users. In a blog post on “Hootsuite“, Evan LePage clearly summarizes the result of this Instagram account automatization.
Another interesting aspect is that these “support programs” almost always provide a further service: One can purchase “likes ” and “views”. One U.S. Dollar will buy 100 “likes” on Instagram; 50 U.S. cents will buy 100 “video views”.
As you see: With only minimal financial effort and without any “hacker software” or similar programs, anyone can establish himself as an Instagramer with a large community of followers.
Interesting fake influencer experiment
The West German Broadcasting put it to the test and turned a reporter into a fake influencer with the help of bots. He started off with 600 Instagram followers. These followers were actual friends, relatives, colleagues etc. After only four weeks he had 23,000 followers. He spent approximately 200 Euro for bots and “fake likes”. At the end of the experiment, he had made 15 cooperation agreements and collected 2900 Euro. Check out the fake influencer video here.
These numbers demonstrate why social media has become a playing field for swindlers.
How to spot fake influencers
1. Follower community grows at a very rapid pace
Take a look at the follower numbers. Quick increases often indicate manipulation. There are of course exceptions, for instance when the account appears in the media, but that can easily be researched.
2. Followers follow but do not post
Most conspicuous is when the followers of the account only follow all sorts of people but never or seldom post anything themselves. This often indicates a fake account whose services have been rented.
3. Comments are short or of a general nature
The comments beneath the posts are of a general nature. They consist of a “Wow” or “Great pic!” etc. The same applies when only smileys are used to comment the post. This is a sure indication that comments have been purchased here.
4. Only likes
Other suspicious indications are posts that are “liked” by many people but have not received any or only a few comments. How likely is it that 18,000 people like a post, yet none of them leaves a comment?
5. Stock images
The almost exclusive use of stock images on the Instagram or Facebook posts is another fairly certain indicator that bots are at work here. Whether an image is an original or has already been used elsewhere can be quickly determined with Google Image Search. Simply download the relevant image and check whether the search engine finds it on the web. This is also a good way of quickly identifying fake news.
6. Short period of time
If many “likes” and comments about a post are submitted within just a few minutes, one can also assume that the “likes” have been purchased. Genuine “likes” generally accumulate over a period of a few hours or days.
Genuine influencers, not the number, are decisive
Target audience relevant influencers are not characterized by a huge fan community. In fact, their influence is typified by the numerous interactions between influencers and followers.
So if your company is searching for suitable partners you ought to take a closer look at the interaction on the accounts. A genuine hifi fan who exchanges intelligent comments and shares opinions about high-end hifi with 1,000 followers is more valuable to an audio manufacturer than an influencer with 100,000 followers who is simply spreading general posts around the world.