How to Spot Fake Instagram Influencers

If your brand is searching for an Instagram influencer to work with, it’s important to get the right person to work with. Instagram influencers can benefit your brand in a multitude of ways. One of the most important benefits is that they build your brand’s credibility. This is why it is so important to find the right person.  With the increasing number of influencers, there is also an increase in the possibility of coming across fake, spam accounts. Here’s our list of ways to check on the legitimacy of an Instagram influencer account.


What is an influencer and what are the benefits of a collaboration?

What do influencers do? In short, they influence. They work with brands to promote certain products or services, and use social media as their means of communication. They offer a variety of benefits to your business or brand. Below is a list, to name a few:

  • Generate sales
  • Create interesting, relevant content that will boost traffic and engagement
  • Build brand awareness
  • Have authority, influence, and people trust them
  • Build brand trust
  • Improve SEO rankings
  • Build relationships
  • They are creative, engaged, and are great communicators
  • Drive traffic
  • Convert leads
  • Provide excellent value
  • Have a fresh, interesting perspective


Engagement Ratio

First, look at the number of followers the account has, then look at the number of likes per post. If the account has an astronomical number of followers, and very low number of likes per post, it is likely a fake account. You can calculate the engagement rate by taking the total number of likes and dividing it by the total number of followers. Then multiply that by 100 to get the ratio percentage.


Look at the Profile

Profile Image

What is the account’s profile image? Does it look suspicious? Does it even have a profile image? A true influencer either uses their logo or a high quality image of themselves as their profile image.

Profile Bio

First of all, make sure the account has any information in their bio to begin with. If the account has an empty bio, they’re extremely unlikely to be the real deal.

If the account does have a bio, check for spelling mistakes. Also look for keywords that may indicate that the account is trying to sell something.

Look for a URL. If the URL directs you to a spam site or something that does not look legit or does not even relate to the influencer, steer clear of that account. If the URL directs you to a site that is real, responsive, and related to the influencer, you’re likely in the clear.


Look at the Followers

Look through some of the followers. Do you notice any of the following?


Followers with no photos or posts

See a username that doesn’t look like a real person? For instance, accounts with weird names and a lot of numbers are likely not real. Click on the accounts you’re unsure of. Check out different follower profiles to see if they have a profile picture, and if they’ve ever posted anything on their account. If the answer to both of these is “no” then you most likely have a fake follower at hand.


Followers with inappropriate content

This one speaks for itself – if the account shares content that is inappropriate or offensive, it is likely not a real account.


Comments that look like spam

See any comments that are gibberish or do not relate to the post? These are signs of a fake follower.


Fan-buying service comments

This is a huge red flag that the influencer has fake followers, and has been buying their followers through a service.


Active Community

Check the quality of the engagements on the account, and look at the following:


Look through the comments

If the majority of the comments look like spam, the account is likely fake. Real influencers have followers that ask questions, express their opinions, etc.


Does the influencer respond to comments?

If the influencer does respond to comments and the comments are unique, then they’re probably the real deal. But, if the comments are always the same or do not provide context to the situation (ie Thanks!) this could be a sign of a fake account (or a sub-par influencer). If the influencer does not respond to any comments, be especially weary. Even if the influencer ends up being real and they do not respond to any comments, it’s probably a sign of a bad influencer – their job is to engage with their followers and build connections!


Account Lifespan

It can take true Instagram influencers years to grow a loyal, large following. If the account just added their first post yesterday and already have thousands of followers, it probably isn’t a legitimate influencer. This isn’t to say that viral success is impossible, but it is rare.


Quality of the Content

Are the posts quality images, with well-thought-out captions with good hashtags? You’re likely looking at a real influencer. If the photos are pixelated, there are typos in the caption or oddly placed emojis, or the post includes hashtags that say things “FollowForFollow” or other spam-like hashtags, this is not a good sign.


Steadiness of Account Activity

Does the account share posts on a consistent basis? That’s probably a good sign. If the account only has one or two posts, or posts a bunch of photos all in a row, that’s probably NOT a good sign. Someone who truly wants to increase their following with meaningful people, will want to keep a steady activity on their accounts. For instance, they don’t want to overwhelm their followers to the point of annoyance, nor would they want to leave their followers hanging for over a week.


Steady Follower Growth

Does the account suddenly have 10,000 more followers overnight? That’s definitely not a natural progression, and most likely a sign of a fake account. Oftentimes, fake accounts (bots) will gain hundreds or thousands of followers on the day of creation, and then no growth after the initial creation of the account. Also, if you notice a significant decrease in followers (up to thousands over one day), that could also be a sign of a fake account. Instagram frequently cleans out blacklisted accounts, so a significant drop in followers is also likely a scam situation.


Google Them

One quick method to find out if an account is fake is to do a quick Google search. Search the account name, and if articles start to pop up with words like “spam,” “bot,” “fake,” or anything similar, you’ve found your answer. If you do not find anything, that does not mean they’re definitely legitimate.


Personally Reach Out

Still not sure if the influencer is who they say they are? Send them a message! Ask to set up a meeting (phone, video, or in-person) with them. Ask them questions they should know the answer to. For instance, ask them what kind of results they’ve gotten from previous brand collaborations. An influencer who knows what they’re doing should be able to justify basic statistics of some of their recent projects. For example, they should be able to show how many followers were gained from a recent campaign with a brand.


Working with an Instagram influencer can help your brand’s success, but only if it is the right person. Now that you have some basic items to keep an eye out for while you search for the perfect influencer, you’ll be able to tell who is the real deal, and who might be trying to pull a fast one on you.

Is your social media in need of a boost? Contact us at ocreations. We can make sure your profile is optimized for each platform, and create consistent posts to make sure your profile is not left in the dust. Let’s get creative, let’s get social.