Fake Instagram followers – How to detect before influencer collaboration?

  • By Prabakaran

Influencer marketing has evolved into a critical component of digital marketing strategy, demanding the need of filtering out the influencer’s fake followers along the journey. As businesses conduct campaigns across the country, they must ensure budgeting in long-term influencer connections that result in genuine engagement. According to a survey conducted by MediaKix, nearly 90% of marketers say Instagram is the most strategically important Social Media channel for influencer marketing. This goes on to demonstrate how Instagram plays a significant part in influencer marketing for businesses. Since influencer marketing is based on authenticity, detecting fake Instagram followers is the industry’s first line of protection against fraud.

However, before you go on to identify influencers with whom to work, double-check their account. Like all good things, influencer marketing has its own set of risks and drawbacks, one of which is influencer fraud. Working with influencers with fake Instagram followers is known as influencer fraud, and it may be highly harmful to your campaign.

It’s tough to know who to believe. After all, the temptation to cheat can be great in an industry where the number of followers, likes, and views can be commercialized.

But, before we get into how to detect false influencers with fake Instagram followers, let’s take a look at who these influencers are and what their social media accounts might look like. This will further help you differentiate them from the real influencers. 

Fake followers on an influencer account will appear to be just like any other actual influencer account. The only difference is that the majority of their followers will be bots.

Fake Instagram followers: How are they built by false influencers?

1. Buying Followers 

These days, there are a plethora of services that allow you to buy followers. Any false influencer can contact them and pay a set fee to acquire as many followers as they like. Instagram likes and comments may be purchased in the same way.

2. Automated bots

Bots are computer apps that allow users to share, like, and follow other Instagram accounts. Some are even programmed to create content on their own. The engagement, however, will be inauthentic and lack organic flow because the bots are not actual people.

3. Pods

Pods are small groupings of people. They are gatherings of individuals who like, share, and follow other accounts in the same group to boost each other’s Social Media metrics. Influencers join such organizations to grow their fan base. However, because it is essentially a corporate transaction, the interaction use to be meaningless.

How do fake Instagram accounts look like?

1. Profiles that are blank or inactive.

Users who create fraudulent accounts make zero attempts to make it look realistic. Most of them have a blank bio. Since you can not view their profile, it’s hard to do a background check on them. A legitimate follower’s profile will have some bio information as well as a profile photo.

2. There are no posts/pictures of actual individuals.

The majority of fake Instagram followers will only upload a few or no photographs. The majority of those who post also don’t include photographs of real individuals. They use stock pictures if they include people. You can reverse search a picture by copying it into Google Images to see whether it has been shared elsewhere.

3. Instagram handles chosen at random

A fake follower’s username may appear to be produced by a system. The name can just contain digits, or be alphanumeric, or be completely different from what they upload.

Symptoms - Fake Instagram Followers

How to detect fake Instagram influencers?

1. Look for an unusual follower-to-engagement ratio

Fake influencers often have a poor interaction rate while having a large following since bots and fake accounts comprise the majority of their followers. They may be able to buy tens of thousands of fake Instagram followers, but they will not engage with their posts.

Aside from this situation, additional warning indicators you may get from the follower-to-engagement ratio include an exceptionally high engagement rate fueled by low-quality fake engagement. Another concern with fake influencers is that they continuously match engagement rates across posts. It is the result of purchasing a certain amount of engagement for every post.

In any case, you will need to know how to correlate their interaction rate to the size of their following to determine legitimacy. The following are the fundamental methods of calculating the average engagement rate:

2. Manual calculation of  Engagement Rate of an Influencer

Influencer Engagement Rate Formula

Source: HubSpot

It’s also worth noting that just because an influencer’s interaction rate is less than the industry average doesn’t mean he is a fake influencer. You should be checking for a significant deviation from the industry average. 

3. Analyse influencer’s audience quality

The calibre of an influencer’s following may reveal a lot about how genuine their influence is. As a result, determining the quality of their audience is another crucial step in spotting fake influencers.

In some situations, the influencer may have a significant amount of engagement but poor-quality comments. The majority of these comments are likely to be similar and unrelated to the content.

As a brand, the comments must always be verified to find out how good the interaction is. A false supporter has remarks that are out of place and have no relation to the content published. Most of these comments/reactions can also be full of emojis or unambiguous remarks that can be expressed under any post. The reactions will be explicitly content-oriented in the case of an influencer account with real followers.

4. Be careful of an unexpected surge in the number of followers

A rapid increase in follower count is another definite indicator of purchased influence. The increase was most likely caused by all of the bot accounts that began following them after the influencers paid for extra followers. Authentic influencers will, in most circumstances, see steady growth in followers with a few tiny blips here and there.

These surges can sometimes be attributed to the influencer’s creation of viral content. However, not every content piece has the ability to become viral. And, in most situations, even after the spike, their following count would steadily grow. A rapid rise in follower count followed by a steady or dramatic decline in the follower count is generally a common indicator.

5. The ratio of following to followers.

Another obvious sign of an influencer with fake followers is the ratio of accounts that follow them to accounts that they follow.

In most situations, a real influencer has more followers than the accounts they follow. On the other hand, an influencer with fake Instagram followers is more likely to have an equal or minor difference in the number of followers and following.

6. The influencer is not tagged in any of the pictures

If an influencer has a sizable following, they should be tagged in other people’s pictures. Their tagged images should be abundant, whether they are in the image or it is just a follower attempting to share something with the influencer.

7. The influencer only exists on Instagram

Influencers who are active on various social media platforms have more clout. If they’re exclusively popular on Instagram, they’re probably not worth as much as an influencer with a more diverse online presence. They may have also adopted fraudulent methods to acquire popularity on Instagram.

What should I do now?

Once you’ve discovered fake influencers, the first action you should do is to avoid collaborating with them. You can also maintain a record of the fake influencers you’ve discovered in the long term. This eliminates the need for you to redo the extensive research procedure in future campaigns.

Keep track of anyone you’ve “blacklisted,” including their social media accounts, why you’ve blacklisted them, and so on. This way. you’ll be able to quickly refer to your list before beginning a new influencer marketing campaign.

To overview the sudden surge of followers or engagement rate of influencers in minutes, you can try Qoruz Influencer Marketing Platform which reduces your manual effort and time. Schedule a free demo here


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