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Fake Influencers: Are you a Fake Influencer?

😏 ‘I am an Influencer’, said everyone, on every social media platform, ever.

😵 ‘Influencer’ is thrown around almost as much as the word, ‘engage’ when it comes to social media (don’t get me started on social media ‘experts’ clinging onto ‘engage’ as their one piece of advice).

😐 If everyone says they are an Influencer, does that make them one? I might change my Twitter bio to ‘billionaire’ and see what happens (wish me luck).

👇 Read on and watch the video below to find out what a Fake Influencer is and why the wool is being pulled over your eyes…

What is a Fake Influencer?

‘If you influence one person you are an influencer’, said every Fake Influencer, on every social media platform, ever.

I get that everyone has an influence over others. My parents have influenced me a ton but you don’t see them getting paid £5,000 to ‘go on an adventure’ to Disneyland whilst filming it on Snapchat.

Yes, there are different levels and types of Influencers, but let’s stop saying, ‘everyone is an Influencer’, it’s pointless.

Talking of different types of Influencers, Dave Chaffey from Smart Insights does a pretty decent job of breaking them down.

A Fake Influencer to me is someone who does not tick one of the following boxes, but calls themselves an ‘Influencer’;

☑ Can make a group of people (50+) take a specific action, which takes more than a small amount of effort, at the click of their fingers.

☑ Has had significant success in their field of work (in a company, personal brand, helping other businesses) and a group of people (50+) respect their advice and will consistently take action, at the click of their fingers, based on their advice/ recommendations.


Big Publications are pulling the wool over your eyes

In a recent Snapchat rant and accompanying Facebook post I caused quite a stir.

My main point, was that big publications are allowing contributors to write ‘Top 10 [insert topic] Influencers’ lists which are not backed by data and are merely the opinions of the contributors.

Not only that, I’m sure a lot of these contributors are simply giving out favours to get in these ‘Influencers’ good books.

Note: Not all contributors are douche bags.

Katya Varbanova made me laugh when she commented on my Facebook post;

“Well duhhh I thought it was obvious that ‘Forbes’ top 25 social media influencers’ by Fluffy Foo is just a made up list of ‘my 25 friends who I wanna make sure they continue to like me’”

On a serious note…

Question everything. If you see a list of Influencers, ask the contributor the methodology behind how the Influencers were identified (maybe you have better things to do with your time though).


‘Why is this guy just hating on everyone for no reason’

This is a good point that Goubran Bahou (Goubtube) commented when Craig Fox shared my Facebook post (I respect Goubran for calling me out on this).

In short, the reason behind me ranting about Fake Influencers and Fake Influencer Lists was to try and open other people’s eyes to what is going on (read all the comments to get the full jist of my response).

Because very credible sources are allowing contributors to identify Influencers based on their own opinion and agenda, it’s difficult to identify genuine Influencers.

Which nicely leads onto…


What makes a real Influencer an Influencer?

What do you think (comment below)?

As outlined above, in my opinion, an Influencer has to tick one of these boxes;

☑ Make a group of people (50+) take a specific action, which takes more than a small amount of effort, at the click of your fingers.

☑ Has had significant success in their field of work (in a company, personal brand, helping other businesses) and a group of people (50+) respect their advice and will consistently take action, at the click of their fingers, based on their advice/ recommendations.

Back to Dave Chaffey’s article, he refers to ‘3Rs of influencers’ to help prioritisation, these are:

✋ Reach (Audience size)

🤠 Resonance (Engagement power with audience)

👽 Relevance (Contextual fit)

Carlos Gil recently asked this question in his Social Media Masterminds group on Facebook and there were some really interesting answers which I want to share with you.

Have a read of these and then let me know your opinion on what makes someone a real Influencer in the comments below.

Lucy Hall | Co-founder of Social Day

‘Someone who influences someone to make a purchase decision within a relevant context.’



Ruvim Achapovskiy | Youth Marketing Strategist

‘An influencer is a figure who ACTUALLY has literal influence in a certain community or group of people. People will stop to listen to what you have to say and ask of them. There is no magic number of followers. You can have 100k followers and a poorly engaged audience. That doesn’t make you an influencer.’


Jason Liebman | CEO & Founder at Liebsmedia

‘There is no one way to become an influencer/person of influence. But I think it comes down to having a following that trusts your recommendations. How you gain that, keep it, and use it in whatever field(s) you are in vary. Secondarily, an influencer can be a leader in a certain industry who garners influence through achievement and prestige for their work and contribution to the field.’

Micah Horner | Co-Founder and President at Give Grow Social

‘When an influencer asks people to do something, they do it. That’s how I measure influence. Without that, the title of “influencer” is meaningless.’



Alex Yong | host of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods

‘From the last paragraph of my EAN influencer rant, “no one should call himself or herself an influencer. A third party needs to do that. Self-proclaimed influencers must be taken with a grain of salt. (Honestly, it’s best to totally avoid this type of fauxfluencer. They tend to be uncouth and unpleasant to even be in the same room with.) Finally, there are influencer lists compiled by humans and there are influencer lists compiled by algorithms. The latter is the real deal. The former is fleeting and subject to all sorts of immature favouritism, cliques, etc. When someone asks me what I “did” to get onto the Cision North America Top 50 influencer list, I shrug and say “I honestly don’t know. You’d need to ask the algorithm as to how I got onto that list. (That specific list was compiled by an algorithm, not by a person.)”‘

Pam Moore  CEO & Founder at Marketing Nutz

‘Having the ability to change thought and /or action in a real and organic way. The key outcome of influence is not only being able to make people think different, be open to a new perspective and to drive action, but that the person “influencing” is also self aware and has perception of the broader ecosystem, if their impact on the world, and that it’s not only self serving but truly encompasses goals that are about others more than self. I think this belief and mindset is what attracts people to others who they listen to, trust and will take a recommended action. Without trust there is no rea influence that is positive in nature.’


What makes someone an Influencer in your opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Daniel Knowlton
Daniel Knowlton

Dan is the award winning Co-founder of KPS Digital Marketing who was named #12 Most Influential Digital Marketer on Twitter in the world in 2016 by Onalytica. Dan is a contributor for a variety of key marketing publications including Social Media Examiner, Content Marketing Institute and Jeff Bullas’ Blog. He is also a keen speaker and has spoken at events internationally for a variety of organisations including NatWest and The Royal institute of Chartered Surveyors. Dan has a passion for helping others learn how to get to grips with Digital Marketing and is obsessed with providing value for his community.