4 Tips to Spot Influencer’s Fake Followers

Instagram continues to grow and now has a massive network of over 800 million engaged users. With so many people locked in, Instagram has become an ideal platform for brands to reach vast numbers of people through influencer campaigns. Just like the platform itself, influencer marketing is also at an all-time high. With this spike, some users have begun to purchase fake followers, comments, and likes to boost their “reach” and appeal to more companies. Here at Mediarails we have compiled some tips to help you sift through the clutter and identify which influencers may be paying for fake followers, comments, and likes.

What are fake followers?

Fake Instagram followers are accounts made using counterfeit email addresses whose sole purpose is to be sold and give the impression of a bigger reach to the real accounts. Micro-Influencers are the usually the most prominent users of fake accounts. As influencer marketing has grown, more and more people are attempting to cheat their way to the top. Instagram users see major influencers pushing brands and getting paid for it. Given how hard it is to build a loyal, engaged following organically, users try and buy their way to the top.  As these fake Instagram “bots” become more prevalent, it is important to be able to identify which of your potential influencers could be using fake followers.


How can I figure out which accounts are fake?

Although these bot accounts are becoming more advanced and difficult to detect there are still several key things you can look for when analyzing an Instagram account.


1. The first key sign is a missing profile image. While fake accounts can use online images to help give the appearance of a real account, a missing profile image is the first red flag of a potentially fake profile.


2. Few or no posts is also the sign of a fraudulent profile. The point of a fake profile is to simply follow other people. Most fake accounts will have either no, or very few posts on their page. They exist for numbers, not for posts. In the photo above, notice that @romantiskn has no profile image, and no posts.


3. A gibberish username, or a username that makes no sense is another good sign. The username @jjgepgcdgvjjgepgcdgv clearly makes no sense in any language. It is a randomly generated string of letters, done by a computer. They are also missing a profile image and have no posts.



4. Finally we come to the following/follower ratio. Generally, real accounts have a one-to-one following to follower ratio. Fake accounts follow an average of 41 Instagram accounts for each one that follows them. If you notice above, @jjgepgcdgvjjgepgcdgv has no followers and follows over 300-people. With almost certainty, we can say that this is a fake account.


Keeping an eye out for generic comments, or comments that don’t make sense can also help identify potential fakes. It is important to evaluate an influencers followers and engagement rates before working with them to make sure they are an organically grown account. Working with the wrong influencers can greatly damage a campaigns return on investment (ROI).