Don’t Be An FAB (Fake Ass Blogger)

Yes this post IS somewhat influenced by the mighty JoJo. If you haven’t heard her new shiz get on Spotify immediately and listen to this gem.

Mainly this post is influenced by discussions I’ve been having out in the Bloggersphere lately about bloggers who are fake. I’ve discussed my experiences before where I’ve met people who, in real life are nothing like they are online. If you want to read about that fakery – feel free. But this is different. These are the FABs we’re becoming more and more aware of. Bloggers who fake their influence.

Don't Be An FAB (Fake Ass Blogger)

WHUT? You may holler. Maybe you’re new to blogging. Or you work for a brand. Or you’re a PR and you don’t really understand what this means. Imma break it to you. Some of your faves? Those with swishy locks, tans for dayz and air miles for milez? They are F A B. Fake Ass Bloggers.

So what is a fake following? In my eyes it’s a following that is as hollow as my Easter egg. It’s a number on a page that bears absolutely no substance because it’s either been paid for OR it has been gained through some unscrupulous activity.

Let me break it down further. Influencers can buy followers, likes, retweets, comments and subscribers – just about every type of engagement – for every social platform going. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell when these followers and subs are fake because companies will set them up to look like real people, with real content. But as you become more aware of it, it’s easier to spot.

What do I mean by unscrupulous activity? Well, alongside buying followers, influencers can also buy bots. These bots will trawl Instagram and other social media channels for them – liking, commenting and following which in turn, encourages real people with real accounts to like, comment and follow back. Influencers can often do this themselves. We all know those who follow us on our platforms just to swiftly unfollow moments later.

What does this mean for the world of blogging and how can we spot this FABery?

First of all, how do we spot an FAB? There are a few things to look out for, for sure;

  • Has their following spiked suddenly for no reason? We know some get a huge boost when a massive brand regram them but this is SO RARE.
  • Do their followers look like real people who’d be interested in their content? Soz but Timmy Vansuelaz from Mexico who has pictures of him hunting deer probably ISN’T interested in your NYX flatlays.
  • Do their followers look like people at all? If you trawl through the likes on their last few pictures – how many of those accounts don’t have profile pictures or are locked accounts? Hello little Egg friends.
  • Does their engagement have a weird pattern? Do they get 10k retweets on one thing but only 6 likes on the next? Do they have 50k Twitter followers but can’t even muster a like on their tweets? Or on Instagram, does one picture have 80-90 likes whereas the next has 500+?
  • Do they get comments? Now, my average likes on Instagram is about 100-200 at the moment. With that, I can get anything between 3-20 comments. But does that FAB have 2k likes on a picture but only 4 genuine comments? Or do all their comments look spammy? Emojis and ‘Great pic!’ as far as the eye can see?

These are just a few things you can look out for. If you have too much time on your hands (like me), you can use sites like SocialBlade and FollowerCheck.co to get more detailed statistics but I’d say approach with caution. For illustration purposes, I looked myself up on Social Blade and it showed me EXACTLY how many people I followed/unfollowed and I cannot dispute it. FollowerCheck said I have about 128 fake followers which is to be expected because I know some bot accounts follow me and I try and sift through and block them as and when I can be arsed. You will see that people will say, ‘You can’t trust these sites,’ but I’d question who and why is saying that. Sunglasses emoji. I will say that a LOT of bloggers and people who work with influencers, that I know, DO USE these sites as a way to check who they’re interacting with. But there are still so many people out in the bloggersphere who are either blissfully unaware OR who just don’t care.

Some people might look at those of us who moan about FABs and say, ‘get a life, why do you care?’ and I could semi-agree with that. Really, in the scheme of life, it DOESN’T matter but for those of us, who work bloody hard on our blogs and channels to feel like we’re constantly swimming against the tide whilst these FABs are sipping Mimosas on yachts, IT MATTERS.

Why should it matter to the bloggersphere?

If you’re a brand, you want an influencer to share your product to a huge audience of people that will then hopefully go and buy your product. You’ve been told that Zoella has changed the world of marketing because 6 years ago, 12 year olds were buying EVERYTHING SHE HAD EVER. It was a model that clearly worked and you wanted a piece of it. GREAT. I know for a FACT there are influencers out there who can wear a product on Instagram one day and then you can’t find it in your size for months (cough THANKS Hannah Gale and that tropical jumpsuit cough). But this ONLY works when that influencer HAS INFLUENCE. Yes you may be thinking you’ve gotten someone with 200k followers showing off your product, which you believe means will transfer to a huge portion of those followers being influenced to buy that product BUT if 150k of those are bought, or not engaged because they’ve been acquired through unscrupulous activity- how many people are REALLY seeing your product?

If you’re a PR, you want to deliver that influencer, with the huge numbers to your boss. We get it. They’ve given you a budget and told you to get the person with the most followers, the biggest reach and the widest audience for that budget. You need to fulfill that task at whatever cost. But what about telling your boss that the influencers he wants have a fake following (if they have) and that you can get them X, Y and Z influencer with a much more heavily engaged audience? When you track THAT return on investment, it’ll come out more favourably and you’ll look like you know your shit!

If you’re a blogger, you want to keep it real. You get enjoyment from engaging with real comments. You love it when someone REAL shares your post and every organic like means something because you know it’s REAL. By keeping yourself from becoming an FAB, other people in the bloggersphere respect you. You get applauded for being genuine and you just like yourself. Furthermore, when these things start coming to light and EVERYONE is looking into who is fake and who is not, you come out with your dignity intact.

What does the future hold for FABs though? It’s hard to tell. When people have called it out on Twitter before, they’ve been harassed by influencers with large followers shouting them down for being the standard, ‘bitter and jealous,’ and then been set upon by the influencer’s fans.

It seems like it’s blogging’s worst kept secret. I mean, you just have to throw out the sentence, ‘Isn’t it annoying when bloggers buy followers?’ and lots of people will reply, ‘ZOMG yes you’re talking about, this person or that person aren’t you?’ We’re becoming aware of the SAME NAMES being repeatedly brought up but never being shouted out into the crowd. But why are these names never revealed? What are we all scared of? That we’ll also get shouted down for being bitter and jealous? Or that we’ll seem unprofessional? How is that fair?

Of course, WE can all sit here and keep it 100, and promise ourselves that we’ll never resort to their means. But when we see one more FAB being sent on a 5* holiday and another at a fancy breakfast, it’s really hard to keep your integrity.

Meanwhile, when you’ve bought your way to 500k and someone else has bought their way to 600k, you’ll keep having to buy and follow/unfollow because otherwise you’ll look even more suspicious because your sudden spurt suddenly stops – it’s a truly gross circle. It’s like cheaters in relationships. Once they’ve gotten a taste at getting away with it – it becomes easier and easier to be shadier and shadier.

So whilst we all stay quiet and PRs don’t really care because they have to deliver their briefs, we can only hope that brands start wisening up to what’s going on. This way, they’ll ask their PRs to bring them influencers with ACTUAL influence, PRs can avoid those they know are FABs and those with genuine, organic followings can jump aboard that bloody yacht.

OR the best thing ever could happen – Instagram (and other channels) could deliver us an actually helpful update which includes wiping out all of the fake accounts and bots. That person with 500k may only lose 100k followers BUT it’ll be that much more obvious as to where those 100k came from.

And if you’re an FAB – just know that we all see you. We all think it’s sad that you don’t value the quality of your content enough to let it talk for you (which is a shame because often your content is incredible). We think it’s awful that you’d happily take opportunities that you know, deep down, you don’t deserve. When brands or others eventually catch you out, it’ll sour your relationships, and finally, it’s quite frankly embarrassing.

#Don’tBeAnFAB

PS… Keep an eye out on anyone who goes in on this post. How many times will I be called ‘bitter and jealous’ and by who?

28 Comments

  1. April 13, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    This post is so on point Vix – I’ve noticed more and more FABs lately and it can be so heartbreaking to see those people you were on a level with a few weeks ago suddenly leave you for dead because they got a bonus at work or daddy invested in them. Please.

    Also there’s the others kind of FAB who go through other bloggers follower and follow every last one of them. Girl I see you liking my boyfriends car pictures & my friends baby.

    Emma | HarmonyBlaze.co.uk

  2. April 13, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    LOVED this girl! I’ve been blogging for almost six years and pretty much just writing because I liked writing. I’ve only realised this year that I should have been harnessing my social media a bit better, but since then I’ve realised there are SO many people out there faking it. I think it makes people who are part of the blogosphere feel a bit sick (and for me almost like giving up!)

    Also on a side note, I’ve met a few bloggers who were COMPLETELY different in real life to what they were online- sometimes the blogging world is a strange one…
    Beautiful blogs as always Vix
    M x

  3. April 13, 2017 / 8:51 pm

    After all our chat today, I’m genuinely so glad you wrote this! Keep being awesome and keep being a damn inspiration!

  4. April 13, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    Yaaaaaassssssss to this, I am so fed up of being happy with a new (albeit, crappy) milestone and then in swans miss FAB who can’t even spell ‘blog’ when you read her posts and she’s acquired the same amount of followers I have in my entire life in one morning. I’m happy for the ones that are legit soaring and getting real followers but FAB bloggers boil my…. well let’s leave it there eh.

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog
    My Instagram | Instagram

  5. April 13, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    I LOVE THIS. Calling it out and saying it like it is, this why I love you Vix!!

    Kirsty | The Monday Project | the Monday project.co.uk

  6. Faye Howie
    April 13, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    How did I only recently discover your blog?! You’ve fast became one of my faves and these types of posts are exactly why – you’re like a breath of fresh air! You go gal!!

  7. April 13, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    Honestly I’ve been posting about YouTube followers for a few weeks now. Apparently it’s so easy to buy or bot then I’ve also seen people say they have had it done to their account out of spite. Which I suppose could happen. THE YouTube ones I’ve noticed are ridiculous though. Another point I do get a lot of nonsense comments on Instagram and weightlifters liking my makeup posted lol.But that’s only cos house ff like4like likeforlike hashtags,then you just get anybody comments tbh. But yep hate liars and wish all social media would weed them out and they get booted off….great post as always Vix xxx

  8. April 13, 2017 / 9:59 pm

    Yaaaas girl! Don’t you love it when girl chats get you so inspired to write that you just can’t not! Love this x

  9. April 13, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    This needs to be spread like nits at a primary school. It is the dirty little secret that has been bubbling away through the blogging world which has now grown through so many other platforms, there are more opportunities to do this and GET AWAY WITH IT! Meanwhile fantastic bloggers and writers just go unnoticed.
    Vix, you influence so many people-me being one- and you are a true, pure authentic blogger and is respected by so many people. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    Katie x

    littlekaatie.com

  10. April 14, 2017 / 7:04 am

    THIS. Down with the fakery! It’s the fact that they probably don’t see anything wrong with it. personally I could never do this, my integrity means much more and shameful that what genuine followers they do have (which will have grown thanks to the wonderful brand opportunities they have gained from the fake followers) probably worship them and don’t know that their ethics and integrity are shot to pieces.

  11. April 14, 2017 / 7:16 am

    I came out of a development meeting with some app designers I’ve been working with and saw this post. Luckily (per our Facebook discussions this week) I’d spent quite a lot of the meeting warning them about these FAB bloggers. The team have worked hard for years to get funding for their app and it makes me sick to think that deceptive bloggers could have taken them for a complete ride when it comes to their influencer marketing strategies. It’s sad that there’s so much dishonesty in the industry but I do definitely see a turning tide where people are getting wise to it. Great post! Can’t wait to see who “objects” to it – aka the shady AF bloggers with a guilty concience! Xx

  12. April 14, 2017 / 7:21 am

    I love this post! As a PR and blogger at the same time I do really care about fake followings and engagement. I’ve been educating the clients I work with about micro-influencers and how it’s not all about numbers!

  13. April 14, 2017 / 7:54 am

    Great post! It’s so annoying as a small blogger one passed over for people who probably have a similar following or amount of engagement as me before you add fake ass shit. I’ve been sat here nodding my head in agreement all the way through this post! X

  14. April 14, 2017 / 8:02 am

    The blogging world is hard enough to keep up in let alone the added complication of people being fake – I know it’s all around us but there’s no need for shady activity. Blogging should be fun and inspiring and not a world of back stabbing and fakeness. Such a shame as there are so many excellent bloggers out there who don’t get a look in.
    Em x
    http://happywiseowl.com

  15. April 14, 2017 / 8:20 am

    As a relative newbie with a small blog and trying to grow it this is all news to me and something I wouldn’t dream of. I’m not in the popularity game. I’m in it to try and inspire and help people with my posts. If that’s 5,50,500 or 50k people it doesn’t matter as long as it’s genuine. I’m too old to play these games 🙂 very interesting post. Thanks

  16. April 14, 2017 / 8:59 am

    Couldn’t have put it better myself! I’m a small-time blogger and probably always will be. I’m okay with that but sometimes it’s so disheartening seeing on blogger collab websites that they’re looking for people with 50k followers, because I’m never going to get there and others that genuinely do probably won’t need to look for collabs because they’ll get contacted by the brands and so it falls to the unscrupulous bloggers to fake it and get the jobs. Maddening!! xx

  17. April 14, 2017 / 9:01 am

    That’s how I realised a pretty prominent Irish blogger uses bots- I got a comment from them on my Instagram, and that would never happen in reality.

  18. April 14, 2017 / 9:17 am

    I can so relate to this post! Everything I post on Instagram these days seems to get spammed by stupid comments that are clearly bots! Obviously I have engagement with genuine people I know too, but like you say it’s easy to tell the difference.
    Although some are glaring beacons of obvious fakeness, I often get comments/follows from people who appear to be bloggers so I’ll click on their profile to have a look and see they have less than 5 photos and 89k followers! It’s SO annoying!
    As another comment said above, I’m also a small time blogger and I’m cool with that. But it’s so unfair that genuine bloggers who may be passionate about a brand/product get overlooked by those who have a large following but don’t necessarily actually use/love the product they’re promoting. But that’s a separate rant!
    Refreshing to see some honesty!

    Lucy x- Yellowicing

  19. April 14, 2017 / 10:42 am

    I’ve noticed this recently on a couple of accounts. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt because I’ve spoken to them, so I think surely they wouldn’t do something like this? WHO KNOWS.

    I’d be quite scared to name and shame, purely because I can imagine the backlash it would receive. I do think it’s quite cheeky, and just puts other bloggers who do work hard to shame. It’s even more annoying because they clearly know how much work goes into blogging, yet they go and just buy their following? WTF.

    Good on you for posting this. I imagine a few people behind their screens will be seething 🙂

    Em x

  20. April 14, 2017 / 11:04 am

    I totally agree BUT I get so many people following me who are weird men and I try to block them but honestly its way too time consuming and I just did the followers check thing and it said I have 15,000 genuine and 9,000 fake. To start with I have 40,100 followers so this doesn’t make sense! And secondly I can say hand on heart I have NEVER brought followers and my engagement etc is all pretty well rounded and as you say no sudden spikes. I think you can tell though as well so if people get say 800 likes immediately you KNOW they’re fake. I think it’s so rife now and people aren’t even ashamed of it. I’ve spoken to a couple of bloggers who have openly admitted to buying followers . . it’s shameful!

  21. April 14, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    I had a post similiar in nature (but much poorer in quality) nestled away in my blog-vault for 8 months. I really want to rant and rave ‘It’s taken me 6 years to get to where I am'(litterally no where).
    What good will it get me? These fakes will come and go.. some might hang on for a year, some might ‘make it’ get a job in media or sell an e-book but the genuine gals & guys with a passion for writing and being a loon on social media (come on bloggers, thay’s what we LOVE) will remain.

    Happy to say I onky get a few thousand views PM let’s face it. My noodle recipes aint getting me no where fast and that’s ok by me.✊

  22. April 16, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    So true and it is frustrating when you’re getting started and work hard to do things the right way. Love that so many genuinely talented bloggers are starting to speak out about this sort of thing, the more people who do the better!

  23. April 17, 2017 / 9:25 am

    I feel like the most naive munchkin in Oz but I really didn’t think this was a thing. I mean of course it’s a fucking thing, wherever there is opportunity there’s an unscrupulous bastard ready to take advantage but it doesn’t make it any less sad. Especially for those who do have some moral standards and are bloody brilliant (yes you!) and aren’t getting those same opportunities. Thanks for calling it out. We should never stop doing that.
    M x

  24. Charlene McElhinney
    April 17, 2017 / 9:33 am

    Spot on, Vix!

  25. April 17, 2017 / 11:31 am

    > Do their followers look like real people who’d be interested in their content? Soz but Timmy Vansuelaz from Mexico who has pictures of him hunting deer probably ISN’T interested in your NYX flatlays.

    I’m in stitches. This was a fantastic read. <3

    Gemma xx

  26. April 19, 2017 / 7:22 am

    Ooooooh YASSS!! Loved this!! I was surprised to see certain names come up when people were outed and then to see how people were reacting. Many going “it’s not a big deal, that’s business” eg and I’m sitting here going, whaaaaaat? Or the “we all make mistakes” line was brought up but those people are the first to jump on the bandwagon when someone else has been caught out doing something shady. Just so annoying.

    I’m too cheap to buy followers hahahahaha I’d much rather keep going along as I am now as a small tiny blogger and be genuine about everything! Also I burst out laughing with – Do their followers look like real people who’d be interested in their content? Soz but Timmy Vansuelaz from Mexico who has pictures of him hunting deer probably ISN’T interested in your NYX flatlays. – Made my day hahhahha Em xx

    http://edoublemamurray.blogspot.com.au/

  27. May 30, 2017 / 9:43 am

    This post is just everything. Can’t add anything as you said it all. With the growing popularity of blogging there are more FAB’s and it’s just a shame. However with all the tools we can now spot them more easily . But like you said: stay true to yourself, grow your audience organically and don’r be a FAB!
    Lea, xx
    http://www.asnippetoflife.com

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