Like other people, are you impressed by the number of followers of certain influencers on Instagram? What if I told you that some simply “bought” their community and that, in their circle of subscribers, there were many fake profiles?
Public TV in Switzerland had fun quantifying the % of “fake followers” of the most popular Instagramers in the country: 16% of them would have more than 50% of fake followers in their communities!
How can this be a problem for you, dear entrepreneur / marketer?
Just because influencer marketing is on the rise, sponsoring a well-chosen influencer can generate a significant spike in your sales. As a result, collaborations between brands and influencers are constantly growing. But with the specter of “fake followers”, how can you be sure that you don’t have an “influencer-scammer” in front of you?
In this article, I will share with you 8 tips that will allow you to detect, in a few minutes, if an Instagram influencer has boosted his community with fake followers.
1/ The influencer doesn’t have a bio (or she’s ridiculously bad)
Quite frankly, this first tip is more common sense than anything else. Indeed, what influencer would not take care of his bio? None, of course!
The bio of an Instagram account is even certainly the most “polished” part of an influencer’s profile! How would an Instagram account manage to attract and engage a community of tens of thousands of subscribers if it doesn’t even describe who it is and what it offers in its bio?
In addition, if you want to work with real professional influencers, you will notice it right away because many are often already sponsored by a brand, and this can be seen from the bio (via a hashtag for example).
2 / The Likes / Followers ratio on publications is abnormal
When you have tens of thousands of followers, it is “abnormal” to have only a few hundred Likes. Indeed, if your community follows you, it is logical that it engages and interacts with you regularly, in particular by liking your publications (if you buy Instagram followers for your popularity, it is necessary to choose service providers who offer real accounts, real humans who really subscribe to your page and who will interact over time with your publications).
When you look at the account of the influencers you are interested in, take a few random posts, and focus on the number of Likes. As a general rule, we can consider that an “authentic” account will have between 5% and 15% of engagement rate on its posts.
If this figure is significantly below or above this level, then you may be facing an Instagram account full of fake followers.
3 / The Likes / Comments ratio on publications is abnormally unbalanced
Another signal that suggests that an Instagram account has fake followers is when you observe an abnormal Likes / Comments ratio.
Again, just look at a few random posts to get an idea. For example, how can a post have 13,000 likes and no comments? If the content has pleased a real committed community, then among the people who “like” the publication, some will also leave a comment: it is a certainty, especially when we are talking about tens of thousands of followers, here again, the service providers who offer real follower accounts will have the opportunity to leave you real comments on your publications.
Otherwise, this sign should alert you to the possibility of being faced with a fake influencer.
4 / The Instagram account has a lot of followers and few publications
Creating a community with real commitment is long and difficult. Really difficult.
If “real” people follow an influencer, it’s because they appreciate the content they find there, and share the same passions or points of view.
How, with a few hundred posts, can an influencer gain thousands of sincere and engaged subscribers? Overnight successes are rare.
In other words, if you come across an account that has this characteristic, you should be wary because it is certainly “stuffed” with fake followers.
5 / The profile has gained thousands of followers all at once
With Instagram’s current policy, a lot of online tools have disappeared. This is the case, for example, of Social Blade, which made it possible to know, for free, the evolution of followers over time.
The only solution capable of giving you this information is HypeAuditor. The tool is paid, but you will have access to many features, including knowing the evolution of followers of an Instagram account.
If you see spikes, with a follower base “suddenly” rising into the thousands, you are potentially looking at an account buying fake followers.
To find out for sure, you can go to the publications of the day in question (when the number of subscribers suddenly increased) and see if this increase is justified:
- maybe the influencer held a contest at this time?
- one of his publications made the buzz?
- maybe he was tagged by another influencer who brought him back many followers?
But if you can’t explain it to yourself, then you are most likely in front of fake followers.
6 / The influencer has many followers who do not have a profile picture
To identify influencers who use fake followers, you can also take a look at the list of their subscribers: by clicking on the followers of a profile, you access the list of subscribers in question.
Just by scrolling down this list, you can get an idea of how many followers don’t have a profile picture.
If one in 10 subscribers has no profile photos, this influencer certainly has a large number of fake profiles as followers. In other words, these are subscribers who have no value, neither for you as a marketer, nor for the influencer (except that it allows him to inflate his counters a little more).
7 / Look in the list of followers for profiles with numbers
In the same list of followers that I mentioned a little above, you can search directly in the influencer’s subscriber base.
Then look for numbers (eg “4”) and count the number of results you get.
Often, fake followers have profiles that end with numbers. If there are a large number of them, that should put you on the alert about the presence of fake followers, shouldn’t it?
8 / Subscribers are “mass followers” who follow more than 1500 accounts
By now taking an “individual” interest in a few questionable followers in the list, you will be able to detect even more signals that will bring you closer to certainty that a follower is a fake.
By going to the profile of some subscribers, you will no doubt notice that some follow very many people on Instagram (more than 1500).
Who can reasonably, humanly follow more than 1500 Instagram accounts? The answer: a bot or a fake follower.
Creating a community with real commitment is long and difficult. Really hard.
Identifying fake influencers and fake followers starts with understanding the proportion of “ghost” accounts among users who interact with influencer posts: no profile picture, no bio, no posts, few followers, many subscriptions on the other hand… There is a very high probability that these are fake subscribers.
The use of fake followers will in any case leave a “mark” that can betray the influencer’s account: low quality content, questionable bio, irregularity in community engagement.
Do not necessarily throw stones at these influencers! Look also at brands and agencies, who only believe in one number : the size of the community of followers. Marketing directors want “reach”, to reach the masses… Sometimes blinded by this obsession with size, they indirectly encourage these practices which inevitably harm the REAL profession of influencer. What matters is engagement: followers need to interact with posts. For a sponsor, beyond visibility, it is his conversion rate that is at stake.
If you want to learn more about this (bad) trend, I invite you to watch Guillaume Ruchon’s video which freely discusses this industry problem and concretely shows how to use the HypeAuditor tool.