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How To Spot Fake Instagram Followers?

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated September, 29, 2022

Many content creators are looking to improve their chances of getting better brand deals (or any at all) by purchasing fake followers.

Although this never works long-term, some brands may inadvertently fall for it.

And if you’re looking to promote products through influencers on social media, here’s how to spot fake Instagram followers.

Let’s dive in.

Fake Follower Check on Instagram: What Are Fake Instagram Followers?

Fake followers on Instagram are bot accounts (accounts that are not run by people) that are created to boost an influencer’s follower count.

How To Spot Fake Instagram Followers

Here are some of the most common signs that an influencer has fake followers:

An ‘unusual’ following-follower gap

To find fake Instagram followers, you can look at the following-follower ratio of their followers.

If the accounts that follow them have fewer than 500 followers but follow more than 4,000 people, then they are likely bots.

Also, keep in mind that Instagram doesn’t allow users to follow more than 7,500 people, which is a lot higher than TikTok’s follower limit. If an influencer has a lot of followers that have reached that number, then they might be bot accounts.

Empty, hidden, or copied profile sections

The easiest way to check if Instagram followers are real is to look at their account’s details: the profile picture, bio, and Instagram handle.

If they have a username that reads something like ‘joe_45546565’, a generic, stock image as a profile picture, and no bio, then they’re likely a fake profile.

Followed by fan-buying accounts

Fan-buying accounts are a big red flag.

If you spot a few of these paid service accounts in an influencer’s followers list, they are likely dealing with bot accounts.

Little to no posts or pictures of their own

When you check for fake followers on Instagram, one of the first things that you’ll notice – if they don’t have a private account – is the profile grid.

Instagram users, whether they’re influencers or not, join the platform because they like posting pictures and videos on it. If the majority of followers do not have any pictures or videos of them, they might be spam accounts.

Use online tools

Combing through an influencer’s following can be time-consuming. If you don’t have the time, you can check fake Instagram followers with the help of an online audit tool. 

This type of software conducts full audits of Instagram accounts, estimates the number of fake followers, and also highlights the most suspicious profiles. Some of these tools include FakeCheck.co, Social Adult Pro, and Instagram Bot Analytics Tool.

Suspicious activity

Repetitive or a great amount of activity in a short time, usually means that it’s a fake profile.

For example, if an account followed a large number of accounts in a short time or commented, liked, and engaged in any other way with a lot of accounts and then suddenly stopped, it is probably not a real account.

Unusual growth in followers 

Unless they made a viral video, it’s almost impossible for an Instagram influencer to grow at an explosive rate on the platform. 

Even then, the growth would happen over a couple of days or weeks. If an account with 1,000 followers grew by 3,000 in a day, they probably bought fake followers.

How Can You Recognise Fake Instagram Engagement?

Here are a few ways to spot fake Instagram engagement:

Spammy and irrelevant comments

When influencers buy fake followers and engagement, these come in the form of spam-like comments, which are generic and might not even be related to the posted content.

Although these comments are classified as engagement, they don’t bring any value to a brand that’s trying to work with an influencer and promote products.

There’s consistent engagement

A common Instagram fake follower check is looking at an account’s engagement rate.

An average Instagram account has a 1.5%-3% engagement rate. Anything below 1% or over 10% is suspicious.

Instagram podding

Instagram podding is when a group of influencers comment and like each other’s posts to increase engagement.

Although these accounts are real, their engagement is ‘fake’; They have no interest in the product that the influencer is promoting. 

Inconsistent views, likes, and comments ratio

The most surefire way to check whether Instagram followers are fake is to look at an account’s view, like, and follower ratio.

An influencer that has 50,000 followers should be getting at least 1,000 views and 20-40 comments on their posts. 

If they’re getting thousands of likes and no comments, it’s a red flag; They may be buying followers but it also might be that their posts are not engaging, which is bad for your brand anyway.

You may be interested: How much do influencers make?

Why Do People Buy Fake Followers?

Instagram is a vast world; Earlier this year, it counted almost 35 million users from the UK alone.

So, why do people on the platform buy followers when there’s plenty to go around?

The number one reason why people buy fake followers on social media platforms is that they believe it buys them credibility, thinking that users are more likely to follow someone with 200,00 than 200 followers.

And that might work for some people, but that strategy rarely ever brings aspiring influencers any success.

That’s because to become a real influencer and get your follower count in the thousands, you’ll need to offer something that people need and/or like. If you don’t, they will start looking the other way and quickly.

What’s more, buying fake followers will get you the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve; Fake followers will eventually cost you your credibility, with brands and followers alike.

What Is The Value Of Genuine Followers?

Instagram marketing holds massive opportunities for brands and influencers; In fact, 55% of marketers in the UK said last year that they planned to promote their products and services via influencers.

And if the influencer you choose is in the same niche as your product, has a close relationship with their followers, and is credible, chances are, the campaign is likely to be a success. For that to happen, the followers have to be genuine. 

If your product is niche-specific, you should consider finding a micro-influencer; They usually have an excellent reputation among their followers and record higher engagement and conversion rates.

Bottom Line

Fake followers are spam accounts that balloon an influencer’s follower base to make it appear more popular than it is but don’t add any value and can be damaging to an influencer’s reputation and credibility on social media.

Luckily, it’s not hard to spot fake followers. They usually don’t have any profile pictures on content on their profile grid (and when they do, it’s stock images) and have suspicious engagement levels, among other things.

You may be interested in: How to change your Instagram logo?

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What percent of Instagram followers are fake?

According to a 2018 report from ‘The Information’, around 10% of all Instagram accounts are ‘fake’. 

Do influencers buy fake followers?

Many aspiring and existing influencers who are looking to grow their following buy spam followers on Instagram.

How can you tell if someone has fake followers on Instagram?

The easiest way to learn how to spot fake Instagram followers is to analyse their accounts. These accounts typically have stock profile pictures or none at all, don’t have bios, don’t post any content on their account, and leave generic comments.

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.