Influencer Marketing and Fake Followers = Advertising Nightmare

Last modified:
Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Ok, so I don’t know about you, but every year when Love Island comes around I say “I’m not going to watch it this year. It’s rubbish”. However, I inevitably get sucked in and end up pressing pause on any form of social life I have for six weeks.

So, when I saw an article on Campaign about how many of this year’s contestants’ followers were ‘real’, I of course was suckered into clicking.

Influencer marketing service Takumi analysed the followers of all 17 contestants and found Tommy Fury had the highest follower count, but 60% of his 971,000 followers were ‘fake’. However, Amber Gill and Jordan Hames had the highest proportion of fake followers at 65% each. The most truthful count belongs to Maura Higgins with just 45% of her followers being deemed fake. With even the lowest of these ‘star’s’ fake counts being so high, this got me wondering… what other UK reality and d-list celebs have artificially inflated follower counts? And how does this affect influencer marketing?

Who Has the Most Fake Followers in Reality TV?

First of all, I diversified into other UK reality shows. Using the handy online tool IG Audit by Authentique, I found that stars of MTV’s Geordie Shore tend to have some of the highest follower counts of any UK reality star. With ex-cast member Charlotte Crosby having a whopping 6.8m followers.

Sadly, the analysis revealed just 44.6% of her followers were likely real, but this was almost as many as many of her co-stars had before being reviewed (just over 3m).

Out of the Geordie Shore accounts we tested, current cast member Chloe Ferry had one of the highest estimated real following at 61.9%.

Table of Geordie Shore cast’s percentage of real followers

Past and present stars of The Only Way is Essex and The Real Housewives of Cheshire faired a little better.

Table of TOWIE and Real Housewives of Cheshire cast’s percentage of real followers

However, moving towards the capital, Made in Chelsea stars appeared to do best in our spot checks – although followings were lower than some others checked, they appeared to be more real.

Table of Made in Chelsea cast’s percentage of real followers

Despite a strong effort from the Chelsea lot, when it came to reality tv stars, it was X Factor’s Jake Quickenden that we found had the highest proportion of real Instagram followers with 82.5%.

What About Influencers? Who Has the Most Fake Followers?

So, we found that reality TV star’s realness varied from just under 45%, way up to over 80%, but what about those whose main form of income comes from Instagram? How much influence do influencers really have?

Especially since The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) concluded that anyone with more than 30,000 social media followers was considered a celebrity.

Well, I spot checked a number of social celebs including Joe Wicks and Fleur De Force and most appeared to have a higher proportion of real followers than reality stars. In fact, helen Briggs (@bleuu) was revealed to have 82.2% estimated real followers and Chet Sket (@chet_sket) 85.8%.

Couple Clemmie (@mother_of_daughters) and Simon (@father_of daughters) came up tops with 83.1% and 87.4% estimated real followers respectively, whereas Gaz Evans (@gazz9487) came up worst at just 29.2%.

What Affect Do Fake Followers Have on Influencer Marketing?

Ok, so we all know why real is better than fake, in general, but have you ever considered the consequences of these artificially inflated follower counts?

Well, as the age old saying goes: it’s not the size that matters, but how you use it. That’s social followings, of course. Whether fake followers have been bought or they’re bot-generated, they won’t do anything for meaningful, relevant engagement and they’re against Instagram’s terms and conditions. Yes, there are programmes that spam likes and comments in hope of a return, but these aren’t fooling anyone.

Accounts with high fake follower counts lack authenticity, legitimacy and are likely less trustworthy as a result. Heck, Instagram has even publicly announced that it is removing and blocking apps that create inauthentic follows in order to make the community a more reliable arena. But we can’t help but feel they’re dragging their heels.

Since the advertising watchdog shared their 30,000 followers rule we expect the number of inauthentic influencers to rise to be above the threshold and brand themselves a “celeb”, which is why we cannot stress enough for influencer marketers to assess an account’s realness before reaching out to work together.

After all, why pay someone for a 5m person reach, when in actuality just 2m will see the post (if that)? The influencer is simply not as influential as advertised.

It’s not rare for influencers not to deliver.

Do you remember @Arii’s hell? She launched her own clothing range ERA with an initial drop of basic T’s and failed to sell 36 units, even though her following totalled 2.6million.

ERA brand gone wrong
These posts on @arii’s Instagram have since been deleted

Granted, there were a number of factors that fed into this issue but a high ratio of fake followers (approx. 42.2% – that’s almost half!) is definitely one.

Let Liberty Sort the Wheat from the Chaff for You?

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing which influencers to work with or would simply prefer an expert manage this for you, our social media team can help. Find out more about our influencer services by getting in touch today. C’mon let’s chew the fat!

contact button

More Data:

D and Z-list celebs:

  1. Katie Price, @officialkatieprice, 2m followers, 59.2% estimated real followers
  2. Lateysha Grace, @lateysha_grace, 861k followers, 58.7% estimated real followers
  3. Charlotte Dawson, @charlottedawsy, 601k followers, 64.7% estimated real followers
  4. Jemma Lucy, @jemlucy, 636k followers, 63.7% estimated real followers
  5. Casey Johnson, @caseycodyj, 408k followers, 72.3% estimated real followers
  6. Jordan Davies, @jordanweekedner, 757k followers, 64.6% estimated real followers
  7. Jake Quickenden, @jakequickenden14, 719k followers, 82.5% estimated real followers
  8. Stephen Bear, @stevie_bear, 1.9m followers, 57.1% estimated real followers
  9. Kerry Katona, @kerrykatona7, 473k followers, 69.5% estimated real followers
  10. Imogen Thomas, @imogen_thomas, 272k followers, 49.9% estimated real followers
  11. Danielle Lloyd, @missdlloyd, 558k followers, 51.7% estimated real followers
  12. Jacqueline Osborne, @jacjossa, 1.5m followers, 54.8% estimated real followers
  13. Stephanie Davis, @stephaniedavis88, 926k followers, 79.4% estimated real followers
  14. Gemma Atkinson, @glouiseatkinson, 1m followers, 72.0% estimated real followers
  15. Scarlett Moffat, @scarlettmoffat, 2m followers, 50.0% estimated real followers


  1. Helen Briggs, @bleuu, 536k followers, 82.2% estimated real followers
  2. Chet Sket, @chet_sket, 546k followers, 85.8% estimated real followers
  3. Ellie O’Donnell, @missellie_o, 824k followers, 69.1% estimated real followers
  4. Daisey O’Donnell, @daiseyodonnell, 675k followers, 63.4% estimated real followers
  5. Tanya Burr, @tanyaburr, 3m followers, 48.0% estimated real followers
  6. Mark Ferris, @markyyferris, 573k followers, 71.0% estimated real followers
  7. Saffron Barker, @saffronbarker, 1.1m followers, 66.6% estimated real followers
  8. Joe Wicks, @thebodycoach, 2.7mm followers, 61.6% estimated real followers
  9. Emma Hill, @emmalhill, 503k followers, 74.9% estimated real followers
  10. Gaz Evans, @gazz9487, 424k followers, 29.2% estimated real followers
  11. Sophie Hinchliffe, @mrshinchhome, 2.5m followers, 72.2% estimated real followers
  12. Clemmie, @Mother_of_daughters, 647k followers, 83.1% estimated real followers
  13. Simon, @father_of_daughters, 982k followers, 87.4% estimated real followers
  14. Victoria, @inthefrow, 851k followers, 71.9% estimated real followers
  15. Fleur De Force, @fleurdeforce, 789k followers, 62.7% estimated real followers

Share this on:


Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

See more written by this author: Sophie Monks

We’ll be your
proactive partner