Fake Engagement and How to Avoid It

  on Jul 13th 2018  

What is Fake Engagement?

Let’s start with the basics and go through what fake engagement is.

Fake engagement comes in many different shapes and forms. The most common is fake followers and likes, but lately, you can even pay to get comments and shares on your post.

Typically, fake engagement comes from bot accounts or accounts that are controlled by computers. By paying the companies that own these bot accounts, you can get followers on your social media profiles and likes on your latest posts. Many times, a few hundred followers and a couple of thousands of likes won’t set you back more than a few dollars.

During recent years, this technique has been perfected, and these days many of the fake profiles are run by actual people who can leave actual comments to make it look like real engagement. Obviously, this takes the issue to a whole new level, but there are ways you can avoid it which we will talk about further down. But first, we want to outline all of the problems fake engagement creates.

It’s a Problem for Brands and for Influencers

We understand that it can be very tempting to boost your number of followers or get extra likes on the picture you worked so hard for. However, fake engagement can be damaging to both the influencer and the brand paying the influencer, and it has to be avoided at all costs.

You see, an influencer’s value is usually evaluated based on engagement rate i.e. how many likes, comments, and shares every post gets. If parts or all of that is fake, brands are going to assume that the influencer has more influence than they actually do. This means that the brand will be more likely to work with them and they might even pay more for the work performed.

Now, it won’t take long before the brand realizes that the engagement is fake since the influencer won’t drive any traffic to the target landing page and they won’t generate any sales. A fake account can’t click links and even if real users are used they won’t buy any products and your sales will suffer.

At this point, the brand will most likely fire the influencer, and if the campaign is over, the brand will probably never be associated with them again. Unfortunately, they will have spent a lot of time and effort on a campaign that failed only because the influencer was dishonest. For a smaller company that could mean that the whole marketing budget was wasted.

However, the brand is not the only ones that will suffer. A brand can 1, decide to not pay the influencer since they faked their numbers and 2, give the influencer a bad review and make sure that others know they’re a scam.

Because of this, we encourage all influencers reading this article to never pay for engagement. It will come back to you in the end, that is a guarantee. In fact, in certain cases, faking engagement and misleading companies can lead to criminal charges.

The Solution: Avoiding Fake Engagement

So how can you avoid fake engagement? Are there any ways to spot it?

Well, yes, luckily, there are a few ways that brands and others can try to evaluate the realness of someone’s engagement and following.

Many times faked engagement follows certain patterns. For example, on Instagram, influencers usually pay for the exact same amount of likes each time and therefore have similar engagement on all posts. On the other hand, a real influencer will most likely get different results on each post.

Another good way to spot fake engagement is to go back in time on an influencer’s profile and see if you can find a spike in comments and likes. Did the engagement rate go from 200 likes to 2,000 likes in one picture? Usually, that indicates that the influencer started paying for engagement at that point.

You can also try to evaluate the quality of the engagement, especially the comments. A real influencer with a real following will often get many comments on their posts and they can range from questions, compliments, etc.

Meanwhile, fake comments tend to be ingenuine and similar to one another. So if you mostly see comments saying “Good,” “Nice pic,” or other similar phrases you can assume that it’s paid for. Also, if the same person leaves the same comment on each post that is also almost a guarantee that it's fake.

Use a Network as Protection

As you can imagine, having to evaluate the accuracy of someone’s engagement is not an easy task, especially not if you want to hire several influencers. The upside to this dilemma is that there is an easy solution.

By relying on our network of proven influencers, you will avoid fake engagement and only work with the best-suited influencers for your brand. Most of our influencers have a proven track record of delivering great results to brands all over the world, and they will do the same for you.

We also use our extensive experience from the industry to evaluate all of our influencers and would never work with anyone we thought had faked themselves “to the top.”

What Are Platforms Doing to Combat the Problem?

There is only so much that social media platforms can do to limit this issue. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are all constantly working on erasing spam and bot accounts. Although, the companies behind the fake engagement are quick to adapt and, as mentioned, real accounts with real humans behind them are becoming more prominent.

In the end, it is your obligation as an influencer to not pay for engagement or in any way try to deceive brands and other users on social media. As a brand or a company, it is your duty to do whatever you can to avoid these fakers. We highly recommend registering for Beatly so you can avoid the trouble of evaluating influencers for each campaign.