How to Identify Fake Followers on Instagram: 6 Simple Ways

Wondering why you need to identify fake followers on Instagram?

The answer is simple: 45% of Instagram accounts are either fake or fraudulent according to a report by HypeAuditor. Only 55% of Instagram accounts are owned by real, active users who you can target through your influencer marketing campaigns.

What about the rest?

These are bot accounts or fake accounts simply used to mass-follow people for money. Such accounts are used to inflate follower counts, get fake engagement, etc.

According to the previously-cited report, over 55% of Instagram influencers are involved in some sort of fraudulent activity.

Instagram Influencers
Image via HypeAuditor

Though Instagram regularly tries to identify fake accounts on Instagram and remove them, there’s still plenty of these around to make an impact on your marketing campaigns.

Wondering how to deal with the situation?

Well, you need to learn how to identify fake followers on Instagram and avoid wasting money on fake/wannabe influencers with inflated performance metrics. You should also clean your follower lists as these fake Instagram followers do not provide any value and may even cause harm.

Curious to learn more about fake followers, how to identify them, and how they impact you?

Keep reading.

What are Fake Followers on Instagram?

Fake followers on Instagram are either real people who follow accounts for money or bots that are used to quickly boost a person’s follower count.

Quickly Boost a Person’s Follower Count

Irrespective of whether the fake Instagram followers are bots or real people, they will not engage with the accounts they follow. So, having fake followers on Instagram is not doing anyone any good.

Why Do You Need to Learn How to Identify Fake Followers on Instagram?

So, there are fake followers on Instagram and you or the influencers that you work with have these.

How does it matter to you? Why should you spend time learning how to identify fake followers on Instagram?

Two reasons:

  • If you have fake Instagram followers on your account, your follower count will be inflated and you will get misleading analytics data on engagement and other metrics.
  • If the influencers you work with have fake Instagram followers, they will use their follower count as a basis for seeking higher compensation, without delivering the desired results.

The key problem with having fake followers is that they don’t engage with the accounts that they follow. This makes them essentially useless, and even harmful as they are misleading.

Key Problem with Having Fake Followers

Overall, fake Instagram followers do more harm than good and should be removed regularly.

Wondering how to identify fake followers on Instagram?

Find that out in the next section.

How to Identify Fake Followers on Instagram Using These Tactics

You can identify fake followers on Instagram manually or using a tool that does it for you. In this section, you will learn both ways to learn how to identify fake followers on Instagram.

Look for the Signs of Fake Instagram Followers Manually

In this section, you will learn six secret hacks to identify fake followers on Instagram

1. No Profile Picture

The first tell-tale sign of fake followers or accounts is that they have no profile pictures. After all, if you’re creating a fake Instagram account to follow people for money, why would you risk adding your real picture?

Check out this Instagram account with no profile picture, name, bio, and posts. If you see someone like this following you or an influencer you want to vet, know that it is most likely a fake account.

Fake Accounts use Stock Images

Image via Instagram

However, many fake accounts use stock images to add fake profile pictures, so this is not a full-proof method to spot fake Instagram followers.

Still, if you see accounts with no profile pictures in your or your influencers’ followers, they are worth looking at and cross-checking using the other tactics mentioned below.

2. Zero or Extremely Few Posts

One characteristic of a fake account is that it will typically have zero or very few posts. Given that fake followers don’t actually spend time on the platform to build an audience, this is quite obvious.

Fake accounts are on Instagram for the sole purpose of following other accounts in exchange for money. So, it makes sense for them to not spend time and effort in creating and posting content.

In the previous example, you would have noticed that the account had no posts at all. That is suspicious and a red flag that you should learn to identify.

Fake Accounts

Image via Instagram

One note of caution:

Some fake accounts may have tons of useless posts just for the purpose of fooling Instagram into thinking that they’re genuine accounts. While this is not an absolute way to identify fake followers, it works well in conjunction with other tricks mentioned in this post.

So, when you do your manual analysis to identify fake followers on Instagram, always look for multiple red flags, instead of just one or two.

For the example above, some other suspicious elements are:

  • The username is gibberish
  • There is no profile picture
  • No bio or description

When you look at all these things combined, you can be sure that it is in fact a fake account.

3. Much Fewer Followers Than People They Follow

When you look at regular Instagram accounts owned by real people, you’ll see some typical patterns.

One such pattern is that they all generally have a decent balance between the number of people they follow and the number of people who follow them. Of course, either number can be slightly higher or lower, but not drastically uneven.

But, if you see highly unusual numbers, then that is cause for concern.

Wondering how to identify fake followers on Instagram using this hack?

Look for accounts that have a much higher number of “following” than “followers”. There is a high possibility that such accounts indulge in non-ethical follow activities, even if they might be owned by real people.

Here’s an example of an account that follows a much higher number of accounts than it has followers. Now, this may well be owned by a real person, but they may be following accounts for money.

Non-Ethical Follow Activities

Image via Instagram

Of course, bot accounts will be much easier to identify as these will have very few followers and posts. But, even with accounts owned by real people, if the ratio is severely distorted then it signals fraudulent activity.

4. Weird or Gibberish Username

Fake accounts or bot accounts usually do not bother with creating a nice Instagram profile or choosing a relevant username.

One way to identify fake followers on Instagram is to look for accounts with weird or gibberish usernames and names. If they haven’t even bothered to add a proper name, then chances are that they are fake.

Need an example?

Here you go.

Identify Fake Followers on Instagram

Image via Instagram

Did you notice something else?

This account also has zero posts, no bio, no profile picture, and more number of “following” than “followers”.

You get the idea, right?

Still, check out the last two hacks and learn how to identify fake followers on Instagram.

5. Spammy or Generic Comments

Till now, all the points we covered revolved around the account itself: username, profile picture, number of accounts followed, etc.

However, for this hack, you will have to take a closer look at your or an influencer’s Instagram posts. Basically, for whichever account you want to identify fake followers, you need to check its posts for spammy or non-sense comments.

Here’s an example of a post with spammy comments that are generic and clearly from fake accounts.

Post with Spammy Comments

Image via Mediakix

Check the accounts that post such comments and we’re sure you’ll find some other red flags as well.

This hack will not only help you identify fake followers for your Instagram account, but also identify fake influencers who buy fake engagement. You can then avoid working with such influencers and truly reap the benefits of influencer marketing by only working with authentic influencers.

6. Empty or Gibberish Instagram Bios

Last but not least on our list of manual ways to identify fake followers on Instagram is finding accounts with empty bios.

Social media is a place where people come to express their thoughts and opinions and share their experiences. So, if someone has a completely empty Instagram bio, then that is suspicious.

And, when you combine this with other hacks and find many red flags, then you can be sure that such accounts are fake.

Also, the bios for fake accounts may not always be empty, but can also be filled with emoticons, symbols, or other gibberish.

Here’s an example of one such account with a non-sense bio.

Account with a Non-Sense Bio

Image via Instagram

How to Identify Fake Followers on Instagram Using an Audit Tool

Hopefully, by now, you would have learned all the red flags that you need to know to identify fake followers on Instagram.

But, for some people, doing this manually might not be feasible. You may want an easier and quicker way to identify fake followers on Instagram within minutes.

Sounds like you?

Well, you can always use a tool like HypeAuditor to identify fake followers on Instagram. All you need to do is to add the username of the Instagram account that you want to check and it will do the work for you.

You will get a consolidated “Audience Quality Score” that will tell you whether the account has more real followers or fake followers. You can use this to check an influencer’s followers and identify real influencers.

Audience Quality Score

Image via HypeAuditor

You will also get metrics like the number of quality followers (real followers) and authentic engagement on each post. This will help you filter out influencers who buy fake followers and spam comments, and have bot followers.

Number of Quality Followers

Image via HypeAuditor


Q1. Who are the fake followers on Instagram?

A. Fake followers are bot accounts or accounts owned by real people who simply follow other accounts for money and don’t contribute to any real engagement.

Q2. How can you tell if someone has fake followers?

A. Look for the following signs to identify fake followers on Instagram:

  • No profile picture
  • Zero or extremely few posts
  • Much fewer followers than people they follow
  • Weird or gibberish username
  • Spammy or generic comments
  • Empty or gibberish Instagram bio

You can also use an Instagram audit tool like HypeAuditor to quickly check the quality of followers of an Instagram account.

Q3. How can fake followers on Instagram harm you?

A. If you have fake followers on your account, your Instagram analytics data will be distorted and you won’t get the real insights. If they post spammy comments on your account, Instagram might consider your account fraudulent and block it.

If the influencers that you work with have fake followers on Instagram then you will waste money without getting good results from your influencer marketing campaigns.

Q4. How frequently should I audit my account for fake followers?

A. That is completely up to you, but you should do it at least once in a few months. For influencer accounts, you need to vet them before you enter into a collaboration.

Q5. Have any further questions on how to identify fake followers on Instagram?

A. Feel free to get in touch with our team or leave a reply.

Ready to Identify Fake Followers on Instagram?

By now, you should be confident on how to identify fake followers on Instagram both manually and using a tool.

Even if you do decide to use a tool to make your life easier, you should at least know what red flags to keep a watchful eye on. Any account without a profile picture, bio, and posts can be a fake account.

Also, look out for fake influencers who get tons of comments that are spammy and clearly posted by bots. You will thank us later when you save money and effort by not working with such influencers.

Use this post as your guide on how to identify fake followers on Instagram and avoid working with fraudulent influencers. You can also hire professional influencer marketing services to find genuine influencers to work with and further boost your campaigns.

Andrea Angioli

Andrea Angioli

Andrea Angioli is the CEO and Co-Founder of Americanoize, an influencer marketing agency that specializes in the niches of luxury fashion, travel, beauty, and wellness.Hailing from an Italian family of directors and movie producers, Andrea has seen different sides of the entertainment industry. He works with celebrities for endorsement frequently for magazine shoots and manages over 10 international photographers.In the past, he has also worked on TV shows, photo campaigns, documentaries, adv photo shoots, music videos, and events.

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