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How Can I Determine if a Social Media Influencer is the Real Deal?
Is There a Way to Identify a Fake Social Media Influencer?

Social media influencers are taking over the social networks. But how can you tell if a social media influencer really is an influencer or just someone who purchased some followers in the hopes of making some extra money? How can you distinguish real social media influencers from fake social media influencers? It isn’t always easy.

Sketchy activity on the internet fueled the inspiration for an Instagram Fraud Summit in New York City. Experts in the field shared information and pulled back the curtain to reveal, if you see it on the internet, it is likely in part untrue. They also discussed real versus fake social media influencers.

When the University of Baltimore and a cybersecurity company conducted an Instagram influencer study, the results weren’t exactly shocking. It’s been rumored for awhile that, outside of the original influencer Kim Kardashian and celebrity-esque others, many were running a smoke and mirrors game of manipulated numbers.

Fees for a post can go from $25 to $12,000 (or more) with dollar worth contingent on the number of followers. So, if an influencers pays $16 for 1,000 fake followers, that’s great ROI. For the influencer, that is.

The university study claims advertisers are getting duped to the tune of $1.3 billion in 2019 and projected to grow even higher in 2020.

It’s important to note, it is not all influencers. Ethics still do exist on the internet. But of those surveyed in this instance, 25 percent of 10,000 influencers are fake, and approximately 500 branding and marketing companies surveyed hired influencers on the list.

Another report stated up-and-comers admitted to posting content, falsely claiming it was sponsored media, in order to gain street cred.

The largest group making a big impact on the statistics, while staying under the radar, are micro-influencers. These are people with somewhere between 1,000 and 50,000 followers. If organized correctly, a group of them, referred to as a pod, collectively agree to comment, click and “heart” everything of their fellow micro-influencers, thus making the engagement numbers sway.

There is good news though. The micro-influencer is the most effective in a grassroots campaign. And if you are willing to follow the trail, their individual return on your investment is trackable before you invest too much.

Important takeaways from the information should prompt a company to ask questions of an influencer before forking out the dough. Curious if you are dealing with real or fake social media influencers? Point Taken can help. Contact us today.


Point Taken Communications, a boutique Jacksonville public relations and marketing firm serving brands nationwide, creates engaging campaigns that ignite positive change and move audiences to action. We go above and beyond, ensuring each client gets the best return on its investment. Our team of senior professionals has decades of experience bringing bold, creative ideas to life to help companies and nonprofits grow and evolve. At Point Taken, our clients inspire us to fuel progress for your organization, your industry and our world.