Fraud Detection, Fake Social Activity and Audience Health in Influencer Marketing

4 min readFeb 6, 2020

As influencer marketing is the direct way of authentically reaching out to possible customers it is still the epicenter of brands’ digital marketing strategies. Influencers have an inevitable impact on consumer purchases. That is why brands focus their strategies on influencer marketing.

The problem here is fraudulent activities by influencers. Conventionally, brands were in search of influencers with a large audience to partner with. However, trust and authenticity issues punched the influencer marketing in the last years. Unsuccessful influencer campaigns made brands understand the importance of engagement rate over the number of unreal followers. Fake social media accounts, bot followers, pods are ways of decisive activity that cause influencers to inflate their fees. Influencer fraud damages the whole market by dead-loss investments and diminishing ROI.

The reason behind influencer fraud is the lack of transparency

There are different types of fraud activities on Instagram such as bots, pods, and fake accounts. Let’s see what all these mean.

Bots are unreal profiles with no followers.

Pods are instead like a group of people who agree to like and comment on each other’s posts to artificially raise engagement. Fake social activities take place in almost all social platforms in different forms.

In May 2018, Facebook alone deleted 583 million fake accounts. YouTube announced the fake video views susceptibility by influencers to blow up their views counts and all these fraudulent views will be removed as new evidence comes to light. As Instagram is the number one platform for sponsored posts, influencer frauds mostly occur on this platform.

According to the CHEQ report, fake influencer activity cost brands 1.3 billion in 2019 and expected to reach 1.5 billion this year. Plus to monetary costs, influencer fraud has indirect costs causing the loss of trust by consumers. It has a lot more sizeable impact on the industry that can change consumer behavior.

How to spot fake activity?

Engagement rate

Engagement is the first factor to define if the account has fraudulent activities or not. If the engagement rate of influencers highly deviates from the average platform engagement rate it is the most probably because of influencer fraud. However, bot accounts do play with likes and comments to pretend trusty influencer images. Thankfully, bot comments also can be revealed by human involvement. If the influencer gets a huge number of the same positive comments or emojis it is probably by the bot accounts.

Follower growth rate

Influencer growth rates can tell a lot about the soundness of the influencers’ profiles. If influencer gets sudden hikes or falls in the number of followers that is because of buying bots or due to deletion of fake followers by the platforms. Trusty influencers show steady growth over time as they built their followers authentically.

The demonstrative way to find out if the influencer has done any fraud or not is checking out post captions. If an influencer tends to write small captions or emojis all the time it implies that influencer does not care about the aesthetics of their profile. Authentic influencers write long and meaningful captions, usually asking questions at the end. Quality captions also depict how influencers are interested in building relations with followers.

Influencer fraud can also be defined by going into followers’ accounts. Too much presence of profiles with no image and also, no followers manifests the fraudulent activity by influencers.

Do not forget to check the comments

Scroll down and read the comments. If influencer gets single-word comments like “Great!”, “Awesome!”, only emojis and repetitive lines in most of their posts and if they do not match with the content of the posts that is the sign of influencer fraud. Community building is the key to successful influencer activity. Real influencers engage with the followers by liking and replying to the comments.

How to guard your brand against influencer fraud?

So, influencer marketing fraud is one of the biggest challenges that most marketers and brands are facing today. The best way to protect your brand against influencer fraud is an in-depth investigation of influencers you want to partner with. Find out where their success comes from, for what type of content they are famous for or simply Google their names to see the campaigns they worked before.

Micro and nano influencers may not have partnerships with big brands to be mentioned, but, you can view their stories or posts and check the comment sections to see the quality of their job. As you can say, it is a long-running process to clearly decide on the right influencers. Influencer marketing platforms can help to reduce time spent on influencer reach and also providing reliable influencers based on their wide experience.

Influencer Analytics Tools

AI-Powered Keepface Influencer Analytics designed to assist brands in finding the right people. The tool helps you to find related influencer by giving insights about influencer profiles including performance metrics, influencer ranking, demographics, audience analysis, and special insights such as influencer media value, analysis of comment, fake influencer detection, similar influencers by content and audience.