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How to spot fake followers on Instagram

The world of social media brings a lot of opportunities and business ideas. The platform is great for people to showcase their content and grow individually. But behind the virtual world of glitz and glamour, there are many loopholes that still need to be fixed. Apart from the heavy-duty demerits like cyber-crimes, cyberbullying and more, the practice of fake followers have taken over social media.

The influencer marketing industry has noticed a tremendous growth. But it also tends to lacks authentication and transparency today. There are genuine influencers and social media personalities on Instagram. These people are striving hard to gain more and more organic following every day. On the other hand, there are profiles who gain a lot of fake followers in order to increase their follower count. Instagram has all the insights and statistics of their genuine accounts and fake accounts. But for the general public, it becomes difficult to spot fake followers on Instagram. Not a lot of us understand social media insights. It is difficult to differentiate genuine social media influencers and influencers surviving on fake followers. 

The practice of getting fake followers is questioning the authenticity of social media influencers as a category altogether. There are a few third-party sites and apps which can spot fake followers mechanically. But if you want to do it yourself, here are a few tips on how to spot fake followers on Instagram. 

Consistent engagement can be deceiving 

No human being is flawless today, not even their Instagram feed. No matter how big of an influencer you are, not all your posts are going to get consistent engagement. According to research, posts with high-resolution photos, selfies, full-body shots, bright background or including dogs and babies receive good engagement. But posts featuring aesthetics, low-quality dark pictures, and promotional posts get less engagement. Even Instagram’s algorithm highlights more bright images, good quality content and pushes them towards the top of the timeline. 

Now, if you have to spot fake Instagram followers for a particular Instagram profile. Go to that influencer’s page and browse through the first 15 to 20 posts. After screening through recent posts, you will get an idea about their average likes and comments.

Now check for the variance and consistency in the content. You will understand which photos should have more likes and which posts should have relatively less engagement. 

If the likes and comments in all the posts are pretty much consistent everywhere. The chances of the influencer paying for the likes on their post is high. 

If you see organic engagement, it cannot remain consistent since it is not an automated engagement. Engagement should vary depending on the kind of content you post. It is common sense that a picture with your shoes will have relatively fewer likes than the picture of your face. This is the starter pack of analyzing fake followers. However, it cannot be the only test as a lot of influencers do this smartly so as to avoid getting spotted.

Instagram Podding is a real thing 

Instagram Podding is pretty relevant in the fashion industry influencers. It is basically where a number of Instagram influencers are a part of a single group on Instagram. As soon as they post a picture, they will DM the post to the group. Everyone on the group will then like and comment on the post. They will write buying comments on the post like “that dress looks bomb on you”, “Love the colour! Ordered one for me” and more.

Since these influencers are a part of multiple Instagram pods, they will get engagement as soon as they upload a picture. This will make the post more relevant and the brand will think they have got potential buyers who are not really buyers. If you are a brand, try not indulging with Instagram influencers who are into heavy Instagram podding. If you collaborate with them, watch out for the buying comments to know the authenticity of them.

Spammy comment and bots 

On the back of the previous section, we’re now going to look for those generic comments that are actually bots.

Bots are smart enough to pretend like actual accounts. Take an influencer’s post and scroll through their comment section. If you see generic comments like “nice”, “beautiful”, “love the picture” and more, these are mostly fake accounts. You can check the profile of a few accounts and analyze whether they are fake or real. Some bots are even set up to comment on a relevant thing on the post. Suppose, an influencer is posing with brand new shoes, you can find a bot comment saying “nice kicks” or “you are rocking the casual look”

If you dig more into a post, you will understand the difference between real comments and bots. Real comments are more engaging and conversational. They relate to the picture and comment directly with due diligence. Before connecting with an influencer, check the engagement, likes, and comments in their recent uploads. Understand if they are getting the engagement from real people or just fake and spammy accounts.

Inconsistent Ratio of engagement 

Consistency can be a sign to spot fake followers on Instagram most times. But knowing how to screen through the engagement consistency to a certain level is important. Every influencer has an average number of following, likes and comments for all their similar posts. Be it a selfie, a flat lay, scenic background, full picture or more; the same kind of post will get a consistent amount of engagement to an extent. If you want to check the engagement for every post and their relative consistency, check for the comments. You can buy bot likes but you can buy comments on Instagram easily through bots. This is where you understand the fake following of an account.

Apart from the comments, the next thing you should be looking for is video views. The bots usually cannot get counted within video views. If an influencer with 50,000 and over followers get only a handful views on their video, they have fake followers or audience who are not active on Instagram. The number of views should level with the number of following if you have genuine engagement. 

The overnight spike in followers 

The truth about Instagram or any social media is it takes time to recognize your work and make it more relevant for the audience. You cannot become an overnight star on Instagram unless your picture or video has gone viral or you are Jennifer Aniston. Organic Instagram growth takes time and the unexplainable sudden spike in follower growth is the most important sign of spotting fake followers or paid followers.

A genuine influencer will take time in establishing the content and getting the audience. You can literally observe someone’s growth with time and put it in a chart form to check the authenticity. But if you spot 10,000 spikes in the followers in merely one day, they are fake followers. No Instagram algorithm displays any influencer’s post so much on the timeline to help them gain thousands of followers a day. The maximum you will have 20-30 followers hike a day. If there are more, chances are they have either been featured on some news, videos, interviews or an event or they have received a shootout from some page. But a sudden spike in followers without any activity gets noticed at once.

There are multiple software and applications available today to spot fake followers. Most of them are available for free and a few of them are paid tools. Usually, brands use these tools before collaborating with an influencer to ensure whether their followers, engagements, and insights are genuine or not. They don’t get into business with influencers who constantly keep buying followers and likes. Getting fake followers can get you good engagement immediately. But with time, you will have to invest money on it from time to time to keep the engagement afloat. Once you stop paying, you will see a drastic drop in the engagement and followers count. It has become easy for audiences and brands to spot fake followers, spammy comments, buying comments and paid likes today.

The right way of being an influencer takes time, quality content, consistency, and hard work. If your content is of good quality and you understand the promotional techniques of social media. You will notice an organic growth in your followers and engagement with time. This authentic audience will improve your statistics and give you genuine engagement. The brands will recognize genuine content easily.

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