It’s Time to Clean Up Influencer Marketing, and We’re Taking a Big Step
Bob Gilbreath

Third-party oversight and verification is a step in the right direction I think. It’s true, all those vanity metrics are too easy to game, and the result is a web full of fake influencers. Some of the biggest channels on YouTube got where they are partially as a result of gaming Google’s ranking algorithms by artificially inflating likes, subscribers, and other metrics.

Google too is working to weed out the social media fluff by discounting fake accounts on its social platforms YouTube and Google+. While many are complaining their numbers are falling, I’d personally rather not have fake followers or community members for that matter. The fakes don’t help to paint a realistic picture of brand and audience growth or influence at all.

The problem with fake influencers on YouTube appears to among the worst. All it takes is clicking on a supposed Youtube influencers Twitter profile and the first thing you see when checking out their followers list is tens of thousands of fake profiles. What really proves their deceptive nature is the fact they’re getting 5,000 retweets for a single tweet, there’s like 4 comments? Come on now, just not buying it.

Another thing to consider here is that those with good visibility are often the target of spammers as well, so naturally they’re going to attract fake profiles.

For instance, I kick out about 50 to 100 fake accounts every 24 hours within my Google+ communities. 2 of those communities are promoted by Google as “featured communities”, and unfortunately, spammers like them too. So its not always that influencers are doing something deceptive, as even the most honest of individuals on the web can have drastically inflated follower counts at no fault of their own.

In one recent case, I banned over 1,000 accounts in less than 24 hours from a single community on G+, just to note the significance of this problem with fake profiles. About 25% of those accounts were real people who either violated Google’s terms of service or our guidelines, the other 75% were straight up fake accounts, spammers, etc.