How to identify fake following on Instagram


People still keep buying followers on Instagram and brands keep being blind targeting their campaign on fake followers. However, many brands and marketers are becoming smarter and more aware.

Lots of brands and even marketing agencies still do not realize large following does not mean large authentic audience and waste the effort and resources working with these kinds of accounts. Don’t be like those guys!

Why do you still want to advertise to the audience who does not even exist?

A friend of mine is a brand owner. She said she paid to a blogger a few thousand dollars to advertise her beautiful footwear (that I absolutely love, so the product is great!), but did not have any return on that, even in terms of social capitals like likes and follows. There might be two answers – or the product is not good enough (which is not the case here), or the audience is not good enough. In some cases, there can be another answer of the wrong targeting (when you sell kids apparel, but target teenagers instead of mothers).

So let’s clarify,

How do you know if an Instagram account has real or fake followers?

With the latest Instagram algorithm changes, I have noticed everyone has fewer and fewer like percentage than a few months or a couple of years ago, even big and famous bloggers.

A very good high engagement will be roughly between 2 and 5% of likes from the total following, comparing to 10% a couple of years ago and much more before that.

The calculations are simple:

If an account has 10,000 followers – a good engagement will be around 500 likes per photo on average.

3% is still real (e.g. 300 likes per photo with 10000 followers) – this still can be a real amount of followers, but with low engagement and wrong social media strategy.

If you see something like less than a 100 likes in an average per photo and more than 20,000 followers – there is definitely something wrong and inauthentic, and you do not want to invest in that.

You will need to pay attention to the comment sections and ensure there is a decent conversation. There are a lot of commenting robots and engagement pods, which is also easy to identify – comments are generic and cliche. These kinds of comments often do not talk about a particular photo.

While robot audience is not what you need, look for a genuine and meaningful conversation in the comment section.

Is it worth it to advertise with bloggers?

Here you need to know who your audience is, who do they follow and why.

After identifying your target audience, who they are, how old are they and what do they like – you can find a blogger with a similar audience and similar concept, tone and voice with your brand.

For example, you do not want to advertise your anti-wrinkle cream for teenagers or your very local business to a foreign audience, right? Or, ladies dresses to men audience, do you?

What you need – is to ask a blogger to demonstrate their stats. Every decent blogger monitors their analytics. They can just send you a print screen of their audience demographics and geographic (beware that they might photoshop their print screen too!)


If you target people in Perth and you see this – you will get your right exposure. Fake followers will be more likely from India or from some other locations which you do not target.

Do a small research and advertise smart.

A profile with a small, but real and engaged 5k followers might bring you more business if their audience 100% will like your message.

As many bloggers also buy likes to even our their fake following engagement rate, you can scroll through their likes and see who liked their photos. If you are advertising in Australia, but your blogger’s audience is in Brazil, Turkey and they have inauthentic looking profiles, then you probably do not want to advertise to them.

Use Hype Auditor tool to see the detailed account stats.


Does it make sense?

Do you ever promote anything with bloggers?

What are your methods to identify which Instagram account is right for your advertisement?

Hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any further questions and let’s discuss it.

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