Try as they might, Instagram hasn’t been able to fully remove fake accounts and followers from the platform. Fake Instagram followers are simply here to stay.
For most users of the platform, fake Instagram followers are annoying accounts that flood the comment section with spammy comments or send DMs asking for collabs.
For some, however, they are a means to an end— fake followers are often used to boost follower counts and appear more popular.
Regardless, fake Instagram followers are a big problem for everyone, and they can really hurt your Instagram performance and negate all of the hard work you’ve been putting into your content and more.
They can damage your performance against the Instagram algorithm, destroy your credibility, and even get you in trouble with Instagram itself.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What fake Instagram followers are
- How they hurt you
- 6 ways to spot fake Instagram followers
- Instagram audit tools to identify fake followers
- How to avoid fake Instagram followers
After reading, you’ll be much more up-to-speed on the reality of fake followers on Instagram and what to do about them. Let’s go!
What is a Fake Instagram Account? And How They Can Hurt You
Just to avoid any conclusion, let’s talk about what defines a fake Instagram account. These accounts are not run by a real human being. There are a variety of ways these accounts come into existence.
The majority of fake Instagram accounts are mass created either by a person or a computer; the goal of doing this is to either:
- Spam comments
- Provide fake followers for higher follower counts
- DM users for collabs
Instagram regularly does sweeps to remove these users, and just as fast as they’re removed, more are created. There are estimated to be 95 million fake accounts on Instagram alone. With 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram, about 1 in 10 Instagram accounts are not authentic.
While they are used for all of the purposes we listed above, the primary reason for the existence of fake accounts on Instagram is to fortify follower counts on the platform.
People looking to start their career as an Instagram influencer or businesses wanting a larger reputation buy Instagram followers in bulk; these followers are simply fake followers that represent a number and nothing more.
The problem is that while their follower count may get a temporary boost, these fake Instagram accounts are doing nothing to help their efforts; in fact, they are hurting their profile more than helping it.
It’s unfortunate because even good intentioned brands and businesses just looking for a bit more prosperity on Instagram can fall victim to these types of companies and follower growth methods.
Now that we know fake followers can hurt your account, let’s take a look at the five principal ways they do so.
They Hurt Your Credibility
While at first glance your follower account may appear beefy, this facade quickly fades as users look more closely at your followers and engagement.
Instagram users as well as brand partners are very adept at seeing fake follower interaction on Instagram accounts. There are a few ways this can happen:
- Follower count with low engagement: maybe you have 15k followers but your photos only get 30-60 likes. Dead giveaway that your followers are mostly fake.
- Spammy comments: if most of your comment section is filled with nonsense, it’s easy to see that your followers are fake. Or, perhaps you have none at all.
- Looking through followers: if they tap on your follower count and see a bunch of fake-looking profiles, it’s clear that your Instagram growth is just a show.
Users are extremely turned off by accounts that have a lot of fake followers; so much so that they’d even be likely to unfollow you if the spammy comments get to be too much. You definitely don’t want to lose real followers at the expense of fake ones.
What’s more, if you’re an influencer and a potential partner sees these signs, you’ll never be able to close the deal. Don’t waste your time with these methods if you want to be an influencer— they simply don’t work and will kill your opportunity.
They Don’t Engage with Your Posts
Another big problem with fake Instagram followers is that they don’t engage with any of your content. While you may see a spammy comment or so, you will end up suffering a poor follower to engagement ratio.
Your engagement rate is calculated based on the number of likes you get against the number of followers that you have. Example: 100 likes per post / 5,000 followers = 2% engagement rate.
The Instagram algorithm runs based on your engagement rate, and so does potential brand partnerships and sponsors (for influencers). If you don’t have a solid engagement rate, your content won’t perform well against the Instagram algorithm and you won’t be a valuable partner for brands and collaborations.
They Skew Your Metrics
It’s vital that you are consistently checking out your Instagram insights and understanding your target audience.
Unfortunately, when you have a bunch of fake followers, none of these numbers are reliable. Your audience insights and post performance will be completely messed up due to the presence of fake followers, making your analytics basically useless.
You won’t be able to understand where the majority of your audience comes from, nor calculate your true engagement, conversion, and more.
They Can Get You in Trouble with Instagram
Instagram has strict guidelines in place to combat the use and purchase of fake followers.
While they can’t stop fake accounts from being created, they can penalize accounts who take part in this type of activity. Your account can be banned, flagged, limited, or suspended. This can cause detrimental effects to your content creation and Instagram presence.
They Can Negatively Impact Your Marketing Investment
It’s now widely known that Instagram influencer marketing can be infiltrated by fake followers, and it may cost you a pretty penny if you’re investing in this type of marketing.
Influencer marketing is an effective marketing tool, but if you work with an account that has a lot of fake followers, you won’t see much ROI. You can make on average $5-6 dollars in returns per dollar spent, but only if you choose the right influencers that don’t partake in fake follower tactics.
6 Ways to Spot Fake Instagram Followers
Now that we understand what fake Instagram followers are and how they hurt your account, you may want to investigate your own profile and purge them. Great!
The first step is identifying them. You can do that in two ways:
- Follow the subsequent six steps to do your own investigation
- Use an Instagram audit too.
We’ll start out with the 6 ways you can spot them yourself and in the next section we’ll introduce 3 effective Instagram auditing tools to get rid of fake followers.
Check the Account’s Followers
The quickest way to spot a fake Instagram account is to check out their followers/following ratio.
Since fake Instagram accounts are mainly for boosting follower count, they’ll typically have a heft “following” count. The max is 7,500, so if you see 2k+ in the “following” section, it’s not a good sign.
What’s more, they usually have a very small number of followers. This may be simply due to the fact that the account is new, but you’ll be able to tell based on the next steps.
In any case, if you see a very imbalanced ratio, like 3,500 following to 50 followers, you can pretty much assume the account is fake.
Calculate the Account’s Engagement Rate
Because fake Instagram accounts don’t engage, you can check out their own accounts— they likely have fake followers as well.
If you see an account with x number of followers but get virtually no engagement on posts (if there are any posts), it’s a good chance that the account is fake. At the very least, you know their followers are all fake.
Evaluate the Account’s Profile
Another very good indicator that the account is fake is extremely generic or sketchy information in their Instagram bio, including username, photo, and written bio.
Services that sell fake followers don’t typically care how the accounts appear; they’re just looking for volume. Here are the indicators:
- Profile pic: a fake Instagram account likely has no profile pic, a generic stock photo, or a photo of an object or animal.
- Bio: an Instagram bio should describe the account and what it’s all about. Fake Instagram followers have zero bio or a very generic one with random promotion or mismatched information.
- Username: because usernames on Instagram can only be used one time, Instagram will suggest a variation of the username with many additional numbers at the end. Fake Instagram accounts are prone to having obscure, complicated, or unreadable Instagram usernames that a real person would never find convenient or appealing.
Look at the Account’s Posts
You must also check out the content that is available on the potential fake Instagram account. Fake accounts won’t be posting tons of incredible, unique content.
You’ll find that the content looks like:
- Posts that offer fake discounts or deals
- Posts that don’t fit the bio or profile picture
- Posts that were just recently made all at once
- Posts that are mainly promotional
What is known to happen is that the fake Instagram account will post maybe 4-5 pieces of content one right after the other to “look legit,” and then never post again.
If you see something like this, the account is likely to be fake.
Read the Comments
You can definitely tell that an account is fake based on the comments that profile makes.
You’ll have to find this on Instagram posts, but if you notice this account is leaving you strange comments, you can almost immediately know that it’s a fake Instagram account.
Here are some red flags in the comment section:
- Generic comments
- Not relevant to the photo
- Grammar and/or spelling errors
That’s not to say every generic comment is fake, or that fake comments always follow the four signs above, but in combination with other elements on this list, you can likely distinguish if the account is fake.
And if you yourself are leaving generic comments on photos, here’s a tip: beef up your comments and be more engaging! People are likely to brush over generic or impersonal comments.
Evaluate the Account as a Whole
All in all, the above 5 tips are likely to indicate a fake Instagram account, but it’s not surefire, as there are exceptions, such as new accounts or different commenting strategies.
That said, if you take 3-4 of these 5 steps and see that the account ticks that box, you can write that account off as fake. You’ll start to notice these types of things right away and you’ll have a type of radar for picking out fake Instagram accounts.
It can be a time-consuming process, so if you feel that you have too many fake followers to go through one by one, check out the following options for an Instagram audit tool.
3 Instagram Audit Tools to Identify Fake Followers
There are a handful of effective Instagram audit tools available; these tools range from completely free that tell you about the quantity of fake followers you have, to paid services that will even help you to remove these followers.
Here are three that you can consider using.
Instagram Bot Analytics Tool
Instagram Bot Analytics Tool is a free Instagram audit tool that uses your engagement rate to estimate the percentage of fake followers on your profile.
You can then sign up to get more insight and information on your audience. The service is free, but can only be used if your Instagram account has 1,000+ followers.
Similar to IG Bot Analytics Tool, FakeCheck.co will use your engagement rate to calculate your fake follower percentage. It can be used on accounts with under 1k followers, but it isn’t free. In order to access the service, you’re required to buy $1 credits.
Social Audit Pro
If you’re really tired of fake followers and need to get rid of them ASAP, Social Audit Pro is the Instagram Audit tool for you. They go way deeper than just scraping the surface.
Social Audit Pro analyzes each of your followers and categorizes them into a few different areas: good followers, dormant followers, somewhat suspicious, and highly suspicious.
You can see more details about your audience analytics as well as which accounts are businesses vs. normal users.
They then offer a follower cleanup tool that will remove or block your somewhat and highly suspicious followers. You can either remove them all at once or set the service to remove a certain quantity per 24 hours.
This Instagram audit tool costs $10 per 10K followers; if you want to use the follower cleanup tool, there’s a one-time fee of $30. The good news is that you’ll then have unlimited access to the tool from there on out.
Social Audit Pro can be worth it if you have tons of followers and have a sinking feeling that you really need to clean up your profile; you’ll save hours of your time.
How to Avoid Fake Instagram Followers
So, we know how to get rid of fake Instagram followers, but how can we avoid getting them in the first place?
If you want to keep your Instagram on the up and up and only get real Instagram followers, follow the three steps below.
Don’t Buy Instagram Followers in Bulk
Many companies out there claim to be the best thing since sliced bread in terms of Instagram growth; their websites are professional, they use great buzzwords, and everything looks kosher. You can buy Instagram followers from them, right?
Wrong!! They’re not miracle workers, and they simply can’t deliver on their promise of real Instagram followers. They will send you fake Instagram followers, regardless of what they say.
So, how can you get real Instagram followers without buying them in bulk or spending hours interacting with people on Instagram?
The best way is to use an organic Instagram growth service like Growthoid. Growthoid works through completely organic methods and utilizes dedicated account managers to interact with only users in your target audience.
You won’t get generic fake followers— you’ll get real Instagram users who visited your profile and decided to follow you because they like your content. This leads to better business results and Instagram insights that actually mean something.
When you work with Growthoid, you provide a list of usernames, hashtags, and other targets that you want your account manager to use to find you relevant followers. Your account manager will then interact with users that fall into your targets.
Growthoid is a totally natural way to get more Instagram followers; we do exactly what you’d do yourself, saving you time and allowing you to focus on other elements of your Instagram account.
Since our methods are completely natural, we can’t guarantee a certain number of Instagram followers that you’ll gain because they are real users. You will, however, see Instagram growth with more followers that are actually interested in your content and brand.
We also offer a money-back guarantee and full support for your confidence.
Try out Growthoid today, get more real Instagram followers, and regain your workflow!
Report Fake Instagram Accounts
Another thing you should do is report fake Instagram accounts when you see them. You can do this to remove not only your own Instagram followers but any time you come across fake or bot activity on Instagram.
Here’s what you do:
- Find the profile you want to report and visit it
- Tap the three dots at the right of their profile
- Hit Report User
This will send a notice to Instagram and they can then remove the account once it’s identified as fake.
Remove All Fake Followers from Your Account
You can follow the above method to remove all of your fake followers, or you can go through your follower list and simply hit the remove follower button for those profiles that you’ve identified to be fake.
You could also use one of the Instagram audit tools that we discussed previously, such as Social Audit Pro and its follower cleanup feature.
Depending on how many followers you have, you may be able to do it yourself with little issue; if you have a lot of followers, consider using a tool to save time.
The best thing you can do is to monitor your Instagram followers regularly and remove fake followers once you see them; that will help you to avoid lengthy cleanouts in the future. You can also keep better tabs on your account and its performance.
We hope that now you have a clear understanding of the dangers of fake followers on Instagram and how they put your brand or business at risk. Use the practical steps to identify them and get rid of them— focus your energy on organic Instagram growth instead.
What do you think about fake Instagram followers? How do you deal with them on Instagram? Let us know in the comments and share this article if you found it useful!