The lure of making large amounts of money by posting pictures online has turned the job of being a full-time social media influencer into one of the most aspirational career choices for young people around the world. Social media influencers on Instagram who have over a million followers can make more than $250,000 per post from brand collaborations; however, someone as famous as Kylie Jenner can make as much as $1 million for a single sponsored Instagram post. But how do you identify the real deal from fake influencers?

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Brands that choose not to use influencer marketing are missing out on a proven way to reach consumers and generate a good ROI. In fact, many people believe that it’s the most effective form of marketing there is. So, how do you go about finding an influencer for your brand? As it becomes easier to buy followers and likes, people can misrepresent their number of followers. Brands need to be able to spot the fakes before getting taken advantage of. When planning your campaign, there are a myriad of factors to consider including key objectives, budget, and deliverables. Perhaps the most important factor is knowing if the ideal influencer partner has an authentic audience that isn’t full of bots and fake followers. 

Here is a list of tips, tricks, and resources to spot fake influencers: 

Grayson Toledo is the Lead Social Strategist at Scottsdale-based Envida Social, the nation’s leading multifamily creative agency.

• Look for unusually low engagement rates and monitor their engagement to follower ratio: Are they boasting 100k followers, but only garner a handful of comments on their posts? You can usually spot a fake influencer because they will have thousands of followers but barely any likes. You should look for influencers whose engagement rates are 1% or above.  

• Analyze the quality of interactions: Take a deeper look at the engagements that they do get. Some fake influencers will buy likes and comments on their posts, in addition to buying followers. Manually going through their post interactions is a great way to double-check their authenticity. The quality of the interactions will give you a better understanding of whether the followers are real or paid for. Robot comments tend to be generic, or they only leave an emoji that would be applicable to any post.

• Examine their followers’ profiles: This will be a lengthy process, but you can simplify it by choosing to analyze only the profiles of people who leave generic comments. Most fake accounts put in little effort and typically leave the bio blank in addition to having very few posts.

• Get an idea of their past brand partnerships: A tell-tale sign of an authentic influencer is their past partnerships. Typically, an influencer with a decent amount of brand deals is likely to be a good choice for your campaign.

• Request audience insights during your initial outreach: This will give a good indication of their audience location as well. Locations such as Brazil and India should raise a red flag if that’s not where the influencer is primarily located.

• Use Social Blade: This website is an incredibly useful tool to use for initial influencer partner research. It’s simple! Just enter in the influencer’s handle and Social Blade will provide you with tons of great metrics. Not only can you find Instagram metrics via Social Blade, but you can also branch out into other common social platforms like YouTube, Twitter and even TikTok!

Influencer campaigns are a great way to increase your overall brand awareness and get your product in front of new eyes. Partnering with influencers who have great (and authentic) engagement is a practice that should always be put into play when conceptualizing your campaign and sourcing your potential partners.


Grayson Toledo is the Lead Social Strategist at Scottsdale-based Envida Social, the nation’s leading multifamily creative agency.