How to Detect Fake Influencers in 6 Easy Steps.

What are fake influencers?

‘Fake influencers’ are social media profiles that commit fraud by faking high engagement and community size in order to participate in influencer campaigns. As influencer marketing increases in popularity, the ability to spot fake influencers has become critical to the continued success and credibility of the market.

How do you spot a fake influencer?

Fake influencers can be spotted on three levels: through their profile, their follower’s profiles, and their follower’s followers. The problem of fake influencers is present across all major networks (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and growing in many influencer marketplaces. At Upfluence, our Influencer software analyzes each profiles data (as well as their followers, and follower’s followers) to determine whether an Influencer is genuine before including them in the database.  Here’s how to immediately identify a fake social influencer:

  • Community growth:

    Odd or “unnatural” community growth is always a red flag. For example, an account that has no activity but constant growth or an account with nonsensical bursts of growth. Both of these scenarios indicate purchased followers. 

    If you’re curious how many followers an Influencer is losing or gaining every day, you can use this free tool.

  • Activity of the community:

    Follower inactivity is not a good sign either. An account with lots of followers that have no posts or profile photos is suspicious. While engagement varies throughout social networks, look for stable patterns of engagement and growth.

  • Community of the community:

    Bots follow bots. Accounts that have followers/fans that have few to 0 followers themselves are another way to detect fake engagement. These fake followers, or “bots” often form entire networks of fake profiles. An easy way to spot a bot network is to see if two seemingly fake followers of an influencer follow one another!

    Top left: an influencer. Top right: a presumably fake account that engaged with the influencer’s post. Bottom: Another fake account interacting with the fake follower from the first account. 

  • Hidden or private profiles:

    This is valid for Instagram and Twitter. When a high % of followers have hidden or private profiles, it can be indicative of a fake following.

    Here are two accounts that were following a fake Instagram influencer. Notice that they exhibit suspicious follower / activity ratios and have their profiles on private? When you request to follow either, Instagram will actually block the action with a message stating that they are protecting their community! We can conclude that these are in fact, fake followers, bought to boost the community size of a fake influencer.

  • Earned Media Value:

    If the earned media value of the influencer is close to zero or very low this should ring a bell. Influencers usually get shared, liked, comments, mentioned, retweeted, etc. To verify, try a quick Google search of the influencers real name or profile handle. If they’re not highly referenced (very few search results) then they’re probably fake.

    Here’s an example of a real influencer from the Upfluence database.

  • Profiles using scrapped pieces of information or stock images as profile pics (!)

    This is the latest kind of fake account we detect, as bots are getting more and more sophisticated. To test whether content is ‘real’, run the suspicious profile images/ posts through a Google image search.

    Want to try it? Run a search on this fake Influencer’s profile photo. (What you’ll get: all the results for pages that contain matching images are stock image websites like this one.)



These are the six metrics that keep the Upfluence database free of fakes and duplicates, assuring 3M genuine influencers. As fake influencers and bot networks become more sophisticated, technology will be crucial for combating fraud in Influencer Marketing.

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