We’ve all heard stories about influencers buying likes and followers to appear larger than they are. Surveillance tools like social blade has been a great repellent to such behaviour. However even these tools are becoming somewhat outdated. The ‘new’ fake influencers are here and they are flying under everyone’s radar.
This article is not about naming and shaming. Instead I want to show you how to detect (uncommon/new) shady behaviours which you can use to make your own judgements on your favourite influencers.
New fake Influencers usually have
- Relatively high number of followers
- Good engagement – likes and comments
- Often well known and (liked?) in the community
- Participates in brand collaborations
Basically they have no red flags. However…..
What I’ve found is that
- They have really poor engagement initially. They have a very low number of likes in the first hour/few hours but at some point it sky rockets. And unlike the old days when fake likes could be identified by a fake profile, the likes appear to be from legit accounts.
This is a screen shot from an account (roughly around 40k followers) that I follow.
219 likes after 5 hours.
The next day I find it’s jumped to 1468 likes. Today (3 days later) it sits at over 2300 likes. Speaking from experience I’ve never experienced a situation where the rate of likes per hour improves with time. As a general rule the first 1 hour of posting determines the success of your post. If you attract a heap of likes/comments in the first 1 hour your post will be promoted and possibly go viral (which can explain how some posts ‘blow up’). Even with viral posts, the rate of likes per hour always decreases with time. It’s just a natural progression. This account only attracted 219 likes in 5 hours. For it to jump to 1468 likes in 14 hours is incredibly hard to believe. What really rang alarm bells for me was that I witnessed this pattern in all the posts I monitored over a couple of weeks.
- The comments all sound the same and generic but are from real accounts.
- Following on from the first 2 points. The accounts commenting/liking are large accounts (on par with the influencer or larger, some even have the blue verification tick) but are usually not in the same niche.
- Their content makes you think how did that photo do so well? Sometimes you look at a photo and think it’s just not good but they’ve received a massive amount of likes. Again, there are exceptions e.g. if you are a celebrity or you are known for your captions/education.
- The ‘fake’ (meaningless) comments are usually not responded to. Due to the influencer knowing there is no relationship between them and the person commenting, there is no point replying back.
- They often change their content/style/niche. Because they don’t have to worry about changes in engagement, they change niche, style, content and do whatever without worrying about consequences.
The fact these influencers are landing brand collaborations (that could have gone to an honest influencer) and fooling ‘real’ followers (who might spend their money based on their recommendations) is super aggravating to think about. All the points I’ve outlined above don’t actually prove anything. It’s purely what I (as well as a few other influencers) have observed recently.
I know for a fact that people will constantly come up with new ways to cheat the system. I also know there is nothing anyone can do about it. If you are one of those people who are engaging in this type of behaviour (what ever it may be) please know that you are scamming brands/small businesses, the consumers/followers who trust you as well as other honest influencers who have invested blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally).
Time for wine.