How to Spot Influencers with Fake Followers on Instagram

How to spot influencers with fake followers on Instagram

Influencer Marketing is the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel, with nearly 60% of brands planning to increase their Influencer Marketing budget in 2024. Social Media influencers are powerful tools to reach target audiences and promote business offerings. They become the voice of your brand to a potentially massive audience. However, the effectiveness of Influencer Marketing depends on authenticity. In fact, research by and WARC reveals that 85% of influencers and 67% of marketers rank trust and authenticity as the most important strengths of Influencer Marketing. In an era where follower counts can be inflated with bots, inactive accounts, and fake followers, partnering with the right influencers is more important than ever. After all, what’s the point of paying a premium for a reach that doesn’t exist?

This blog explores the deceptive tactic of fake followers on Instagram, a practice that can undermine impactful campaigns. We’ll equip you with the knowledge to identify influencers who might be artificially increasing their audience and show you why genuine engagement is crucial for your success. We’ll also share valuable tips to help you partner with the right influencers and avoid the pitfalls of fake followers, protecting your brand’s reputation and marketing investment.


What are Fake Followers? 

In the pursuit of online fame, some influencers resort to shady tactics to artificially inflate their following. Fake followers are social media accounts – often bots or bulk-created profiles – that inflate an influencer’s reach and popularity. These fake accounts aren’t real people scrolling through feeds and engaging with content. 

In 2022, there were an estimated 2,026,000 global searches on Google for “buy Instagram followers.” Influencers may purchase fake followers from questionable providers or deploy automated tools that generate and add these artificial accounts. While the numbers may appear impressive, fake followers offer no real value. They don’t represent a genuine audience interested in the influencer’s message, and ultimately, they offer no brand loyalty or conversion potential.


Why do Influencers Buy Fake Followers? 

There are a few key reasons why influencers opt for shortcuts to success. These reasons often stem from misguided motivations that overlook the long-term consequences.

Landing Brand Deals: Despite the rise of nano and micro influencers, many brands still rely heavily on follower count as a key metric for Influencer Marketing campaigns. A high number of followers can make an influencer appear more influential and trustworthy, even if those followers are fake. This facade can trick brands into offering sponsorships and partnerships.

Providing Social Proof: People are naturally drawn to what’s popular, and a large following can create a sense of social proof that encourages real people to join the bandwagon. This can be tempting for influencers looking to expand their audience, even if the initial foundation is built on artificial followers.

Seeking Validation: For some influencers, having a massive following can be ego-inflating and become a matter of personal validation. Fake followers can create the illusion of success and popularity, fulfilling the desire for recognition and admiration, which some influencers crave.

Charging Higher Rates: By presenting themselves as having a larger reach and influence, influencers with inflated follower counts can leverage this perception to negotiate higher rates for sponsored posts. This capitalizes on the assumption that a broader audience correlates with increased engagement and impact.

Inflating follower counts with fake accounts might seem like a quick way to get more attention, but it goes against the core idea of Influencer Marketing, which is based on trust and credibility.


Is it Legal to Buy Fake Followers on Instagram?

Although buying followers isn’t illegal per se, it violates Instagram’s terms of service, which prohibit inauthentic activity. Engaging in such practices can result in consequences such as the removal of fake followers, account suspension, or account deletion. Instead, it’s much more effective to grow your Instagram audience organically, by consistently posting high-quality content that generates real engagement.


The Drawbacks of Fake Followers for Brands

  • Low Engagement of Marketing Campaigns: When brands partner with influencers with a substantial number of fake followers, their marketing campaigns suffer from low engagement. These fake followers don’t like, comment, or share the content, negatively affecting the campaign’s reach and impact. Consequently, brands miss out on opportunities to connect with real potential customers who are interested in their offerings.
  • Wasted Resources and Financial Losses: Brands invest significant time and resources in Influencer Marketing campaigns. Partnering with influencers who prioritize quantity over quality by buying fake followers results in wasted resources. Additionally, financial losses occur due to ineffective campaigns and potentially inflated fees charged by influencers with a false reach.
  • Negative Impact on Brand Reputation: Collaborating with influencers who engage in deceptive practices like buying fake followers can damage a brand’s reputation and credibility. Consumers quickly detect inauthenticity, leading to distrust and disengagement with the brand.

For brands, it’s important to identify and work with influencers who have genuine influence and a devoted audience built on authentic connections and engagement for Influencer Marketing success.


How to Spot Fake Followers on Instagram

Here are some signs to help you identify potential fake followers:

  • Incomplete Profile Information: Fake accounts often lack detailed information in their profiles. Look for generic or missing bios, gibberish usernames, the absence of a profile picture, or the use of stock images as profile pictures.
  • Spam Comments: Fake accounts can be bought to post comments on an influencer’s content. These comments are typically generic and lack genuine engagement or relevance to the content. In some cases, they might even promote unrelated products or services.
  • Low Activity: Real people tend to follow a balanced number of accounts and share posts of their own. Fake followers, on the other hand, often have few or no followers themselves but follow a large number of accounts. Also, they usually have no posts or a limited number of posts featuring generic stock photos rather than real people.


How to Spot Influencers with Fake Followers on Instagram

Influencers with a large number of fake followers cannot deliver the results that brands expect. However, brands can employ strategic techniques to find genuine influencers who can influence people and encourage them to take action. Leveraging Influencer Marketing Platforms can help with this process of influencer discovery and vetting.

Influencer Marketing Platforms like Creable are all-in-one tools, guiding brands through every stage of the Influencer Marketing journey – from influencer discovery and analysis to outreach, campaign management, tracking, and reporting. These Influencer Marketing Platforms offer advanced features to help brands spot influencers with fake followers.


Analyzing Follower Growth Patterns

One sign of fake followers is an abnormal, rapid spike in an influencer’s follower count over a short period of time. Genuine growth tends to be more gradual and organic. Influencer Marketing Platforms offer advanced analytics that can show an influencer’s follower growth rate patterns, flagging any suspicious increases that may indicate the addition of fake followers.


Auditing Engagement Rates

While a high follower count may appear impressive at first glance, true influence is measured by authentic engagement. Influencers with a significant number of fake followers often have disproportionately low engagement rates, as these fake accounts do not actively interact with their content. Influencer Marketing Platforms can audit an influencer’s engagement metrics, analyzing variables such as likes, comments, and shares to reveal any discrepancies between follower count and actual audience participation.


Reviewing Audience Quality

Advanced Influencer Marketing Platforms like Creable provide audience quality analyses via automated fraud detection algorithms. Creable’s algorithms analyze various data points, including engagement rates, audience demographics, follower growth patterns, and more, to identify potential influencer fraud. This automated approach streamlines the vetting process, saving brands valuable time and resources. With Creable, brands can gain insight into the composition of an influencer’s audience, distinguishing between influencers, real people, mass followers, and fake followers.

Influencer Marketing Platforms, like Creable, enable brands to spot and avoid influencers with fake followers, safeguarding marketing investments and protecting the brand’s reputation while enabling genuine connections with engaged audiences.

Creable – Free Instagram Fake Follower Check

Creable offers a powerful solution: a free Instagram fake follower checker that leverages AI to separate authentic influence from artificial fake followers. With Creable’s Instagram Fake Follower Check tool, brands can audit an influencer’s Instagram account and get insights about:

  • Audience Quality: Percentage breakdown of influencers, real people, mass followers, and fake followers. 

Audience Quality - Find The Percentage Of Fake Followers

  • Benchmarked Performance Metrics: Engagement rate, average comments, likes, reel views, and more.

Benchmarked Performance Metrics

  • Follower Growth Rate

Follower growth rate


By leveraging Influencer Marketing Platforms like Creable or tools like Free Instagram Fake Follower Check, brands can gain insights into an influencer’s audience quality, follower growth patterns, and engagement metrics, distinguishing genuine influencers from those relying on deceptive tactics. 

By making informed decisions, brands can ensure that their marketing investments are directed towards influencers who can deliver authentic engagement and foster meaningful connections with their target audience. Remember, the essence of successful Influencer Marketing lies in authenticity. By prioritizing influencers with a loyal, engaged following built on trust and credibility, brands not only protect their reputation but also unlock the true potential of this powerful marketing channel.

About Creable

Access the largest Influencer database with 300M+ profiles across YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Creable offers a comprehensive range of filters, allowing you to refine your search by Influencer and/or audience demographics such as location, age, gender, and language.

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