Expert Guide: How to Expose Fake Instagram Influencers

29 Jan 2018

These days, more and more people are deciding that they’d like to become bloggers. Being able to be your own boss, work whenever you want, and have unlimited upside potential can make becoming a blogger extremely enticing. If you’re willing to take the time and focus on quality strategies to build your audience, you can get there and offer real value to whomever you work with. I actually teach these quality strategies in my blogger course, feel free to take a look.

However, with the growing interest in this profession, many try to take shortcuts in building their audiences. People with a poor judgement and morals are opting for buying their followers and engagement. Unfortunately, like most shortcuts in life, trying to bypass time and real work will actually work against us in the long run.

Fake followers and fake engagement create no real value for companies that hire influencers. It’s sad to see many public relations and marketing agencies fail to identify fake followers and engagement. Being unable to identify these imitation influencers and bloggers wastes countless marketing budgets.

This is why I’ve decided to share my foolproof strategy for spotting and exposing these fake influencers and bloggers. I urge you all to take the time to learn the below screening process, to not get stuck with under or non-performing influencers!

1. Use a Follower Check Tool

Expert Guide: How to Expose Fake Instagram Influencers Blog Lifestyle

The sudden increases and decreases indicate purchased followers.

There are a few tools available online which will help speed up the process of deciding who’s real and who isn’t. One of the free tools that I’ve used is called Social Blade. Simply enter the username of your target and you’ll get back useful data. Scroll down to the follower graph, look for sudden increases or decreases in follower count. When there is a large spike in followers, it almost always indicates a purchase of fake followers. A large decrease tends to indicate when Instagram purges fake accounts, and this would also indicate that someone has purchased followers. Even if someone is lucky enough to go viral, or get mentioned by someone very famous, it will most likely grow an account but not be in the thousands in one go.

What if the person’s following appears to be growing steady?

Even steady growth of followers can be faked, it’s called drip followers. You will not be able to spot drip followers easily because they appear to be natural when looked at as a graph. Instead, you’ll have to dive deeper into their account by following the steps below.

2. Compare Your Target’s Engagement Rates to Averages

The second method is to compare the average influencer engagement rates with your target. There was a survey done of 2 million social media influencers in 2016, it compared average likes and average comment rates to followers. These numbers can give us an idea of what typical engagement looks like.

Keep in mind that these numbers are simply the averages, not all users will follow these exact rates of engagement. As long as they’re within a reasonable range, a slight deviation might not necessarily equate to fake engagement.

0 – 1,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 8.03% Average Comment Rate: 0.56%

1,000 – 10,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 4.04% Average Comment Rate: 0.27%

10,000 – 100,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 2.37% Average Comment Rate: 0.14%

100,000 – 1,000,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 1.78% Average Comment Rate: 0.09%

1,000,000 – 10,000,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 1.66% Average Comment Rate: 0.06%

To find the average rates of engagement, we must compare the data across several posts. To find the average like rate of a user, we should take the latest 10 photos (or more) of the user, and average them. We can then take this number and divide it by their follower count to get the user’s average like rate. To find the user’s average comment rate, do the same thing, just change the average likes to average comments.

Having too many comments or too few comments can both indicate fake engagement. However, if they’re within a reasonable range, it may not indicate fake engagement.

3. Analyze Individual Followers and Engagement

Expert Guide: How to Expose Fake Instagram Influencers Blog Lifestyle

The final and most telling method to tell whether a user has fake followers or engagement, is to analyze the user’s following and engagement with a microscope, not literally you goose, put away your microscope.

Click on your target’s follower list, scroll down and take note of how often followers with no profile picture appear. Click on some of these users without profile photos and analyze their followers and following. Do they follow tons of people but have very few followers? If yes, there is a high possibility of it being a fake account (not representing a real person.) Do these accounts have many posts? Generally, fake accounts don’t have more than a dozen photos.

Repeat this process for users with profile photos. Many fake accounts are setup with photos and can be quite convincing to the untrained eye. If your target’s followers have very little activity, this would indicate another red flag and possible fake account. However, the biggest giveaway to fake engagement is the follower to following ratio of the people following and engaging with your target, mentioned earlier.

Use this same technique on the likes of your target as well as the commenters. In the the target’s comments, look for comments that don’t make sense, have poor grammar/spelling or are irrelevant, all reasons to suspect fake accounts.


These are the top methods I use to expose fake influencers. Remember to use your best judgement, not all followers with no profile photo are fake, and not all weird comments have been purchased (sometimes, they’re just weirdos.)

Be sure to run through these easy methods to confirm if an Instagrammer will be of value to your business or not. No more wasting your hard-earned money on bloggers and influencers who don’t produce results! If you’d like to learn how to become a blogger, growing an audience through quality methods to actually earn a living, check out my blogger course now!