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 followers on Instagram are bot accounts (accounts that are not run by people) that are created to boost an influencer’s follower count.
Did you know? 97% of UK influencers are active on Instagram!
Here are some of the most common signs that an influencer has fake followers:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Here are a few ways to spot fake Instagram engagement:
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.
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 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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According to a 2018 report from ‘The Information’, around 10% of all Instagram accounts are ‘fake’.
Many aspiring and existing influencers who are looking to grow their following buy spam 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.