Fake it ‘til you make it: How to spot fake social media accounts and inauthentic audiences

Fake it ‘til you make it: How to spot fake social media accounts and inauthentic audiences

11th October 2019
Thoughts & Insights

When it comes to putting your brand out there, social media is an incredibly powerful tool to put your message in front of the right people. Used in the right way, brands can grow an engaged community on their pages, increasing conversion and brand awareness along the way. But as Uncle Ben bestowed upon Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility!


With a rising number of influencers and brands being outed for their fraudulent activity, we take a look at some of the easiest ways to spot a fake and inauthentic audience.


Verification Badge


The first port of call (and easiest) for checking an account’s legitimacy is that little blue tick. Social media platforms will give high-profile business, celebrity or influencer accounts a verification badge to prove the account’s authenticity. This usually means that the account has been through a series of checks to confirm the person behind it is who they say they are, and that their audience is actually interested in them. But what about those accounts of smaller brands and influencers who don’t quite meet the tick-worthy standards? Does the blue tick really mean they’re free from fakes?


Followers


A good place to spot the fakers is in the account’s followers. It’s incredibly easy for anyone to buy followers and inflate their social media audience. Take a look at a handful of the followers on the page and see if you can spot anything that stands out to you. If the account caters to a specific interest, all of the followers should at least visibly look like they’d be interested in this e.g. a women’s fashion brand should have a lot of female followers. If you’re peeking into the followers and all of the followers are named ‘Dave’ it might be worth a bit of a deeper dive…


Engagement


Next stop – post engagement! Take a look at the posts on the page. Does anything look suspicious here? If an account has 35,000+ followers but each post is only receiving 5 likes, alarm bells should be ringing!


This is a sure-fire sign that an account has been taking part in some funny business to inflate an audience. At the end of the day, audience size doesn’t add anything of value to an account if the audience isn’t interested in the content being posted. Instagram and Facebook are trialling removing like counts on posts which might make spotting fakers even harder in the future…but that’s a blog post for another time…


Auditing tools


Need to take a deeper dive? There are number of quick and FREE tools that you can use to quickly run an audit on an account’s activity and get a feel for how authentic the audience is. A few of our favourites include IGBlade, HypeAuditor and Twitter Audit.


You should be pretty equipped now to take on the feed and spot those fakers left, right and centre! Have your own way of sleuthing out the truth? Let us know @stmcreates on Twitter!


Article by Roddy Burns

Social Media Manager

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