Warning: Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns Are Going Down The Drain

Here’s why and how to avoid it

When hiring influencers, brands first judge them by the number of followers they have, before looking at other metrics regardless of hiring a micro or macro influencer. With a larger following, they hope that their campaign has a wider reach. Such pressures have cultivated a market for fake followers to give off the illusion of popularity. On top of that, fake followers are able to contribute to influencers’ engagement level by liking a lot of posts and giving automated comments. Even with the shutdown of Instagress, many are still in search of alternative platforms to buy followers (read more about that here)

(What influencer marketing shouldn’t look like!)

By using the number of followers as the main deciding factor, brands are investing in influencers who don’t have authentic influence over potential consumers. Such deception causes great damage to marketing campaigns. To make matters worse, it’s nearly impossible to rid this plague completely, especially with its constant evolution and growth. However, we are able to curb this with a few strategies and tools in mind.


Scrutinize Comments

(Taken from a rant about automated comments by foreveramber.co.uk)

On top of spammy comments, there has been a proliferation of scripted comments where many accounts reuse the same phrases such as “Awesome feed”, “Amazing”, “Love this”, or insert the same emoticons. If you find that the influencer has posts with sketchy comments, scrutinize the accounts that liked the posts.


Database of fake followers

(10.26% of this influencer’s following are inactive. Source: Popular Chips)


(70% of this influencer’s audience has less than 10 followers. Source: Popular Chips)

Constantly adding a bunch of fake or inactive accounts manually is tedious and time-consuming (and will probably make your social media manager quit). Thus, I recommend using tools like Popular Chips that have such functions embedded into their analysis software. Look for tools which return you a quick summary of fake followers and an instant breakdown of the audience’s (in)activity like the graph above. The pie chart highlights in orange that 70% of this particular’s influencer’s audience has less than 10 followers, raising a red (or rather fake) flag.


Organic Following

(@taylorswift’s following growth chart over 8 months with growth spikes. Source: Popular Chips)

No matter how popular the influencer, the growth of their following should follow a steady trend. Bots and inactive followers can be spotted in growth spikes like the ones circled out in the graph above as fake accounts usually manifest in batches. In this case, Instagram probably had a cleanup of fake followers thus the dip in @taylorswift‘s following but managed to revive their accounts shortly after.



Just like how consumers are attracted to authentic posts from their influencers, brands should only engage influencers with authentic followers. For your next campaign, don’t be too quick to judge an influencer based on his/her quantity of followers, but use a combination of strategies and tools like the ones I’ve recommended in this article to analyze the quality of their following and whether it best suits your campaign.

After circumventing this issue of fakes, step up your influencer marketing game with these 6 tools.


Written by Terri Tan

I am a quirky individual currently working with influencer marketing analytics startup, Popular Chips. I love writing about sassy and trendy topics, especially those related to marketing. Hit me up if you have any queries~

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