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How to Tell if an Instagram Influencer Has Fake Followers

influencer fake followers

 People say honesty is the best policy, and that should apply to business too. While the majority of influencers keep it real with their numbers, there are some who don’t. They might buy fake followers to give off the impression that their following is larger than it is, which serves as a major problem for brands looking to partner with influencers with legitimate and engaged audiences. However, if you know what to look for it can be very easy to weed out these not-so-honest influencers. Here are some key signs an influencer has fake followers.

Follower-to-Following Ratio

People who have fake followers often use “Instagram automation” services that help them gain more followers. To do this, a bot will follow random accounts based on a set criteria input by the influencer (hashtags, location, followed accounts, etc.) After some time, the bot will unfollow any accounts that didn’t follow back.

You can identify influencers who have used this service if they’re following thousands of accounts, and have around the same or fewer number of users following them. Real influencers will have way more followers than accounts they’re following.

Engagement (Or Lack Thereof)

One of the easiest ways to spot fake followers is to look at what kind of engagement an influencer is getting on their posts. If an influencer has low engagement compared to the number of followers they have, that’s a major sign that many of those “followers” are fake. An influencer with 30k followers getting less than 100 likes and maybe 5 comments on their posts looks a little fishy, right? Ideally, you’ll want to find influencers who get a consistent amount of likes and comments appropriate for their follower count.

Spam comments will usually feature text like a random string of emojis, requests for people to “like back” and “follow back,” promotions for giveaways that sound too good to be true and even random text that just doesn’t make sense. You’ll know a spam comment when you see one, so it’ll be obvious when an influencer has paid for engagement.  

It’s All in the Usernames

The funny thing about cheap get-followers-quick services is that the fake followers aren’t even believable. They’ll have spammy usernames like @followers.plus123, usernames with random letters and numbers, or usernames that suggest they post explicit adult content (let’s try to keep it PG). When you click into the accounts, most of them won’t have posts, or will have random photos that look like they were curated by a bot. If you see a lot of these red flags in an influencer’s followers list, likes and comments, it’s best to steer clear.

Note: There will be times when credible Instagram accounts will have some spam accounts as followers. Spam accounts do this with the hopes that they will get more followers for themselves, so expect to see some in everyone’s follower list. As long as it isn’t hundreds or thousands, it’s okay! If they’re a good influencer, they will be catching those spam accounts early on and blocking them.

grow your instagram followers

It Takes Time

We all know it takes time to grow your follower count if you’re doing it the good, honest way. Influencers who’ve suddenly gained large amounts of followers in a short period of time are definitely suspicious. To check follower growth you can use websites and apps that provide analytics on a user’s Instagram account.

Note: Take this information with a grain of salt. While these websites and apps can get you close to the truth, many aren’t 100% accurate.

Don’t let a few bad seeds in the influencer game deter you from partnering with the good ones. It’s important for brands to know what signs to look for to ensure you aren’t partnering with someone questionable. At Statusphere, we use a unique algorithm to ensure all our influencers are getting real engagement from real followers. If you’re ready to partner with influencers for your next campaign, contact Statusphere today to chat with one of our influencer marketing specialists!