For a brand, allotting a piece of the advertising pie to influencer marketing is a must. The field has become so mainstream that no brand, irrespective of how small or big, can afford to ignore it. 

But like every other niche, there are a few pitfalls in influencer marketing. One, finding the right creator is not easy. But that you can still surpass through word of mouth references.

It’s pinpointing which influencer has fake followers and which one a genuine and engaged community that is the toughest.  

What are fake influencers, and why should brands be beware of them?

A creator who buys followers instead of developing them through commitment and great content is a fake influencer. They stuff their follower numbers through dummy accounts or bots.

They also purchase likes and comments to appear as authentic creators with real engagement. Couple the large follower number with a seemingly great engagement rate, and it is enough to catch the attention of brands and rope in paid collaborations. 

A brand should be beware of fake influencers because:

  • It does not guarantee more awareness of your product or services.
  • It does not increase your reach and get more leads.
  • It only results in ad spend completely wasted. 

How to spot a fake influencer?

So, the question now is how to spot an influencer who buys fake followers. You look for these four signs:

Keep an eye on the follower number

The easiest way to identify a fake influencer is to look at the number of followers. If there is a sudden rise in followers, the influencer paid for it. 

Yes, genuine creators also have a sharp increase in followers at times, but it is immediately after they post a great piece of content. That’s not the case with a fake influencer.

While real creators show overall consistent growth, fake influencers have abrupt spikes and drops. 

Take a look at the engagement rate

The best way to judge the worth of a creator is through engagement rate. There are many ways to calculate it, but the most used formula is:


  • total number of likes and comments on a given post divided by the total number of followers


Use this metric to screen fake influencers from authentic creators. What’s a good engagement rate? That differs from social media to social media, industry to industry, content to content and influencers type to influencer type.

Typically, this is considered as the average ER

Go through the comments

This method requires manual effort, but it is entirely worth it. Going through comments can tell you a lot about a creator. To spot fake followers, here’s what you need to look for in the comments:

  • Single emoji.
  • Generic responses like “great pic.”
  • Reactions that don’t match the post.

Bots don’t want to spend a lot of time typing in comments. So, the responses are often short and have no meaning. If you consistently see this pattern in an influencer, then the followers have been bought. Do keep in mind that most accounts will have such comments. But they’ll be few and far between.

Check out the followers

Again, this will require manual assessment but is faster than checking the comments section. Bots or fake accounts have certain ‘tells’:

  • No profile pictures.
  • Brief or vague bio.
  • None or few random posts.

If you see a lot of followers with these tells in an influencer’s handle, then stay clear of them

What if an account has none of these tells? Then there is another way you can spot a fake account. Look at the follower vs following rate. If the following rate is massive, but the number of followers is not, then it is a bot.

Such accounts are made for ‘follow for follow’ gimmicks. They follow back people merely to amplify the follower number, even when their interest doesn’t lie in it. 

Buying followers is rampant, take the easy way out!

Constantly generating content that garners a lot of following and authentic engagement takes hard work, commitment, and time. That is why a lot of creators fall prey to the easy way out. They buy followers. 

Surveys estimate that almost 40% of creators have signed up for fake followers. When buying followers is so rampant, it is almost a given that a brand will end up with fake deals. 

Partnerships with such influencers promise you unrealistic objectives. Hence, it is tempting to collaborate with them. But on that path lies no engagement and worse marring of your goodwill

Use the four insights to manually screen influencers and find the legit ones. We know brands rarely if ever, have the time to do it. That’s why we offer a better alternative. Tie up with an influencer marketing platform (and, yes, here’s our shameless plug) like Do Your Thng. 

A platform takes on the strenuous work of weeding out influencers who buy fake followers. This ensures that when you partner with creators through a platform, you get genuine engagement and real outcomes.