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Some content creators build audiences by purchasing fake followers — but you’ve done things the right way and grown your audience organically. You’ve worked hard on creating value-added content, sharing it in the right places with the right people, and pairing with the best influencers to get your message out. You don’t need to worry about fake followers, right? Wrong. Fake followers are a growing concern for content creators, marketers, and even celebrities. For example, studies reveal that an amazing 44 percent of Kim Kardashian’s Twitter followers are fake. Here we discuss every aspect of the fake followers problem, and highlight the benefits of a fake followers check.

What Are Fake Followers?

Fake followers are accounts that follow content creators but don’t have a genuine interest in what those content creators do. These followers are often “bots” that perform simple instructions, such as occasionally posting generic messages. But some fake followers are real people who have entered into “follow back” agreements, where two creators subscribe to each other to artificially inflate their audiences. Some fake followers also receive payment for subscribing to creators. This is why its important to run a fake followers check.

When Should You Run a Fake Followers Check?

Some content creators purchase fake followers, but companies operating bots may also subscribe to creators in the hope of tricking them into performing operations that put their accounts at risk. That means anybody on social media may have fake followers, including you. Because of the increasing use of fake followers, there are several times when it makes sense to run a fake followers check:

Your business is interested in starting an influencer marketing program, and you need to verify the authenticity of influencers you want to work with.

You used fake followers when you first started creating content, but now you want to legitimize your profile by running an audit. You want to maintain the integrity of your audience and your account by running a  regular fake followers check.

Why Is a Fake Followers Check Important?

You may decide it’s necessary to check your own followers, or the followers of another content creator. In each case, the reasons are different.

Reasons to check your own followers include:

Social platforms may ban you:

Social media platforms such as Instagram have specific policies to protect users, and that includes banning creators who use fake followers or enter into arrangements with other creators.

People find out:

It’s often quite easy to identify fake followers. If other people notice, they’re going to lose trust in you as a content creator. This harms your reputation, and may result in the loss of genuine followers. Furthermore, fake followers may prevent you from using certain online services. For example, the communication network Sylo has rejected 77 percent of influencers attempting to register with them because of telltale signs of fake followers. Running into problems like these are common when not running a fake followers check.

Fake followers aren’t as good as real ones:

It’s pretty obvious, really — you want an audience of interested and engaged followers who are going to respond to your posts, and hopefully buy into your brand. Fake followers don’t engage, and they don’t make purchases.

Fake followers make data analysis difficult:

As a marketer or content creator, it’s important to monitor campaign results. You need to identify what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your marketing goals accordingly. Having a large number of fake followers makes it more difficult to get the accurate statistics you need, and you may end up making incorrect assumptions that cost you money.

It improves security:

Some fake followers are malicious bots that trick you into giving away passwords and email addresses, or find some way to infect your computer with a virus. In fact, 28.9 percent of bots are malicious, according to statistics from the data security company Imperva.

Reasons to check someone else’s followers include:

You want to work with them:

This is the most common reason for snooping around someone else’s follower list. If you want to partner with influencers, you need to be sure those influencers are as popular and honest as they seem. Fail to identify a fake influencer who has purchased an audience, and you could end up making some costly marketing decisions.

You want to follow them:

There’s no point wasting your time following profiles that aren’t real. All you’re doing is putting yourself on the radars of those people who are running fake accounts.

They’ve followed you:

Once you have a large following, it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to check everyone who follows you. But when you’re starting out, it’s worth taking a quick look at follower profiles. Watch out for groups of followers that subscribe to you at the same time, and which are also subscribed to each other, as this is a good indication they’re fake.

How Do You Run a Fake Followers Check?

The easiest way to run a fake followers check is to find a suitable piece of software. There are many websites and apps that offer free auditing services or limited trial offers, as well as full subscription services with a host of useful facilities. If you would rather search for fake followers manually, be prepared for a time-consuming ordeal. You’ll need to look at every profile, searching for some of these obvious signs:

Low engagement rates:

Fake followers don’t tend to like, share, or comment that often.

Generic comments:

Bots generate very generic comments. Watch out for phrases that could apply to any type of content, or that don’t make sense in the context.

Generic profiles:

Look for accounts that don’t have profile pictures or bios, or several accounts that have identical bios.

Generic posts:

If followers are posting the same few stock images or quotes on their own profiles, they’re probably bots using a simple program to maintain the illusion of activity on the account.

Rapid audience growth:

Content creators who have a sudden influx of followers may be purchasing fake followers in blocks.

Followback hashtags:

Followers who post comments using hashtags such as “followback” are usually only interested in building their own audiences. Additionally, they subscribe to as many profiles as possible, even if they aren’t interested in the content.

Are Fake Followers a Serious Problem?

You may not think that fake followers are a serious problem. After all, how many people are really going to go to the effort of creating a fake profile? The truth is it’s a big concern, because there’s the potential for huge financial gain for the people involved. Fake followers are a risk for everybody, as they may compromise account security; but they’re particularly a problem for marketers who want to find good influencers to partner with for influencer marketing campaigns.

Becoming a fake influencer is surprisingly easy. An experiment by Mediakix revealed it was possible to give the impression of success and to start receiving proposals from marketers after investing just $300 in a fake profile. Social media platforms try to identify and remove the fakes, but it’s essential to keep running your own fake followers checks to avoid marketing decisions that cost your company money, or even damage your reputation.

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