How to check for fake followers on Instagram?

The attractiveness of the influencer’s “job title” and intense competition in the field has led to many ínfluencers purchasing fake followers. It means that marketers can’t choose their influencers blindfolded – you may pay for an audience of fake followers! Thus, it’s crucial to check for fake followers of an influencer before agreeing on a collaboration.

Here’s everything you need to know!👇🏼

1. Checklist for detecting fake followers on Instagram
2. Example of an influencer profile with(out) fake followers
3. Fake engagement aka buying likes and comments
4. Instagram fake follower checker by Promoty

How to check for fake followers on Instagram?

Purchased followers are one of the most common problems marketers face. It’s a fairly simple and affordable way to grow your account: Google’s first search result offers 1,000 followers for $ 12.99, but probably you could also find better deals.

Additionally, fake follower providers do quite active sales by themselves: in a survey that we ran in Estonia, almost 20% of respondents admitted they had been offered to buy followers.

Fortunately, fake followers are relatively easy to identify. Here are four things to check to find out if the Instagram influencer has fake followers!

◻️  Engagement rate and patterns
◻️  Quality and the origin of followers
◻️  Changes in the number of followers
◻️  Common sense

1. Low engagement rates

The first thing to look at is the influencer’s engagement rate which shows how many of their followers are actively liking, commenting, sharing, and saving their posts.

However, remember that as the number of influencer’s followers’ increases, the engagement rate tends to decrease – this is completely natural and does not necessarily indicate the purchase of followers. While for Instagram micro-influencers, a good engagement rate would be at least 5-15%, it’s often 1-3% for bigger influencers.

Another tip is checking the number of video views – if it’s very low compared to the number of followers, it’s also a warning sign.

2. Quality and the origin of followers

If the influencer’s engagement rate is significantly lower than average, you can open the list of their followers and see if they are real followers. If there are many accounts without a profile picture and no posts, or the usernames consist of numbers and symbols, that might refer to fake followers.

The easiest way to find out the origin of followers is to use an influencer marketing platform. In Promoty Discovery, you can see the distribution of influencers’ followers by gender, age, country, and city. As data runs directly from Instagram, the influencer can’t change it by themselves.

For example, here’s how Cristiano Ronaldo’s profile looks on Promoty 👇🏼

a screenshot of the influencer audience demographics view on Promoty

Influencer audience demographics view on Promoty Discovery

Another option is to ask the influencer for a screenshot of their followers’ demographics on Instagram before starting the collaboration.

⚠️  Keep in mind that Instagram is an international platform, so almost all users have both local and foreign followers – that does not always refer to purchased followers.

3. Changes in the number of followers over time

If you suspect that an influencer has increased the number of their followers dishonestly, you can check this with tools that show the change in numbers over time.

When it comes to growing an Instagram account, it’s common to gain more followers on some days, fewer followers on others, and even lose some from time to time. Therefore, if you see that the number of followers has raised in thousands, or just in suspiciously round numbers, you can be quite sure that these are fake followers.

Of course, there may be exceptions here as well – for example, giveaways, media coverage, or collaboration with a bigger influencer can result in an unusual increase in the number of followers.

Influencer’s monthly followers and monthly following on Promoty Discovery

4. Common sense

If in doubt, take a look at the influencer’s previous posts. Growing one’s Instagram following organically requires distinctive, engaging content and consistent posting. Therefore, it is worth thinking critically about whether the number of followers of an influencer and the value they create is in balance – and if not, then how have they gained so many followers?

Let’s analyze two Instagram influencer’s profiles

In order to make this guide a little more practical, let’s look at two influencer profiles on Promoty and check if they have fake followers! As Promoty is founded in Estonia, we’ll analyze two Estonia-based creators.

Here’s an influencer with fake followers:

a screenshot of an influencer with potential fake followers
check for fake followers - an account with fake followers - followers credibility

Signs that hint at having fake followers:

•  Low engagement rate: the number of their followers is 7000, but the number of average likes is only 20. Therefore, their engagement rate is 0,28% which is very low for such a small account;

•  The influencer is based in Tallinn, Estonia, but their followers are mostly from India.

•  The followers’ credibility is 13.7%

Here’s an influencer who seems to have no fake followers:

a screenshot of an influencer with no fake followers
check for fake followers - followers credibility

Why would we trust this influencer?

•  The average engagement rate – 4.68% – matches the number of their followers – 12,900;

•  The influencer is located in Estonia and 91% of their followers are also from Estonia;

•  The followers’ credibility is 93.8%

Fake engagement aka buying likes and comments

Since low engagement is one of the main signs of detecting fake followers, likes and comments are sometimes bought to hide the gap.

The easiest way to identify this is to look at the influencer’s latest posts and evaluate the quality of the comments: whether they are followers who sincerely engage with the influencer or rather random comments in the style of “Cool post, check out my content”. You can also take a look at users who have liked the post to make sure that they are real!

⚠️  Keep in mind that giveaway posts have a higher engagement. The post may also be ad-supported (appear in feeds as a sponsored post) to reach more people.

Have a look at the tips that content creator Vanessa Lau shares on how to check for fake followers and engagement on Instagram 👇🏻

Free fake follower checker by Promoty

By using Promoty Influencer Discovery, you can check detailed reports of every Instagram influencer worldwide – including their followers’ demographics, the credibility of their followers and likers.

fake followers from india and bangladesh

If you’re running a campaign on Promoty and need to decide on which influencers you should choose to your campaign, it’s wise to critically look at their profiles first.

To some extent, the algorithm of Promoty can identify influencers with fake followers: in the marketer’s view, they are marked with a yellow warning sign. Additionally, we take warnings about influencers who might have bought followers very seriously and mark them manually.

Unfortunately, the problem cannot be automatically identified with 100% certainty yet. Therefore, we also expect marketers to pay attention to follower demographics, engagement rates, and previous posts when choosing influencers.

If you have any questions about Promoty or you’d like to discuss leveraging influencer marketing for your brand, feel free to contact us – we would be happy to think along! 🤍

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Frequently asked questions

🤍  What are fake followers?

Fake followers are profiles that look like regular social media accounts but are actually not real people. Therefore, they do not create any value for the brands who work with the influencer.

🤍  Why is it important to check for fake followers?

When you’re doing a collaboration with an influencer, you are paying for getting the visibility in front of their audience. Thus, paying for a fake audience means that the brand is wasting its budget.

🤍  How to check for fake followers on the Instagram app?

Start out with reviewing the number of likes and compare it to the number of followers – if the ratio is lower than 3%, things might be sketchy. Moreover, you should check the patterns in likes, comments’ quality, and patterns and open the followers’ section to make sure there are no fake accounts.

🤍  How to check for fake followers on Twitter?

In general, the same way: check for engagement (likes, retweets, replies) and open the follower’s section to make sure there are no fake accounts with strange usernames and no profile photos.

🤍  How do I know many fake followers does the influencer have?

For knowing the influencer audience in detail, you should use the fake follower checker in Promoty Discovery. This is a tool that helps you to see the followers’ and likers’ credibility for every Instagram influencer worldwide.

Activate your free trial here (no credit card required) 👇🏼


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