How to detect fake
followers on Instagram

Before you start to work with an influencer, it’s a good idea to check if the person makes use of fake followers. Because if the profile is based on false data, you won’t get what you pay for. But how do you spot whether your influencer makes use of it or not?

First of all, it’s important to emphasize that most public Instagram users have a small amount of fake followers and that’s normal. Most people have tried to receive a like or a follow from a completely foreign profile apparently without followers. But how do you know if your influencer has too many fake followers? We will give you 4 tips on how to spot if your influencer has fake followers.

1. The location of the followers 

The location of your influencer’s followers is important to find out, not only to determine fake followers, but also to know if the influencer has followers that match your brand audience.
If a Copenhagen-based fashion blogger has a significant portion of followers from Brazil – then you could assume they have been purchased and are fake. The warning light in this case is the location of the followers versus where the influencer lives and works. A Copenhagen-based influencer will typically have the most followers from Denmark and not from Brazil. In some scenarios it’s possible that the influencer has the most followers abroad if they are internationally known or widely known in a particular country.

View of landscape and the ocean - fake followers

2. The engagement rate

Engagement rate is actually very simple. It’s just the average number of engagements (likes, comments, shares) an influencer gets per post, divided by the number of followers. To get a safe result of your measurement, remember to calculate the average of engagements for the specific influencer, before dividing it with the amount of followers. If an influencer has an engagement rate below 1% it’s pretty sure that hey have some fake followers. If an influencer still claims their followers are real, they have an audience that doesn’t care about their content and that’s not something you want to invest in as a brand. It’s important to keep in mind that when an influencer gains more and more followers their engagement rate will drop a bit as their profile grows. But everything below 1% is still too low. If you want to know your influencer’s engagement rate, you can use www.socialblade.com to find out. Here is a guideline to the numbers:

  • Less than 1% = low engagement rate
  • Between 1% and 3.5% = average engagement rate
  • Between 3.5% and 6% = high engagement rate
  • Above 6% = very high engagement rate
calculation - fake followers

3. Follower growth

When influencers gain followers it’s typically a fairly steady and consistent growth. 
For influencers that have purchased followers, you can see the growth of followers suddenly explode from day to day or from week to week. Again, the website www.socialblade.com is helpful to get the info you need. On the website you will be able to see the trend line of the influencer’s gaining of followers.

Festival - fake followers

4. Fake profiles

If you have an idea that your influencer has fake followers you can go to their profile and enter their followers. When you scroll down the list of followers look for spam usernames. They can be at bit tricky to spot, but you will quickly get a hang of it. Coming up with a username is often a personal process and will typically include the user’s name or what they are interested in. Conversely, fake accounts usually have names that come from a random name generator and has no relationship with the content the account creates or follows and just don’t make sense at all. Let’s have a look at some fake profiles:

Common for all three profiles is the amount of people they follow. A good indicator that a profile is fake is when it follows 2k-10k Instagram users, but nobody follows them back or only a few.
The pictures on the accounts are randomly selected by a bot and posted. Often there is no connection between the pictures and there is nothing personal. 

The end of fake followers is near

Instagram actively opposes false profiles and false activity from its user in order to maintain their security and reputation.
For a long time it has been a wellknown fact that many Instagram users make use of false followers and fake likes to increase their popularity. But it must stop. Just as Facebook recently began to erase false profiles from its platform, Instagram will follow and do the same. Any fake likes or followers that come from so-called third-party services will be deleted.
In order to delete the fake activity, Instagram has invented a technology that identifies false activity. If the technology detects that a user has used services from a third-party, they will be notified by Instagram and the followers and likes will be deleted.

Picture of a Instagram logo - fake followers