Over 55% of Instagram influencers were involved in fraudulent activities in 2020, according to the State of Influencer Marketing 2021. It means that businesses waste millions of dollars on advertising to fake audiences.
These numbers are shocking, but they stress the importance of analytics in influencer marketing.
Hopefully, with analytics tools like HypeAuditor, it’s super easy to check any Instagram influencer for fake followers and likes. But first, let’s figure out who these fake followers are.
Fake followers are Instagram bots, stolen accounts, abandoned accounts, and regular users who utilize specific tools to artificially boost their number of followers, likes, and comments.
There are multiple signals that can indicate fake Instagram accounts:
up to 10 posts or, in most cases, zero posts.
no profile picture.
a big number of people they follow.
no posts in the last 30 days.
username is filled with random letters and numbers.
There are various apps and services that promise to help you grow your audience and the number of likes on Instagram, so fake followers and engagement remain a serious problem.
So, why are fake followers bad? Fake audiences decrease your engagement rate and have an impact on your reach. That’s why brands usually check Instagram accounts when looking for influencers. No one wants to pay for sponsored content that’s exposed to a non-existent audience.
At HypeAuditor we consider two categories of accounts fakes: suspicious accounts (most of them are bots) and mass followers.
These accounts have too many followers and don’t see your posts in their news feed. They don’t interact with your content or use automation tools to do like and comment on your posts. They are inactive followers, just a ballast.
If an account has over 1500 followers, HypeAuditor considers this account a mass follower. There are three categories of mass followers:
Users who manually subscribe to many accounts. They are a minority.
Users who use special tools to follow other accounts automatically. They can’t see your posts, because all activity from their accounts is made by a special script.
There are over 30 metrics in the HypeAuditor report that help brands analyze Instagram accounts, including their performance and the audience. A combination of these key metrics allows you to get a clear idea of the quality and authenticity of the influencer’s account.
Don’t make any conclusions based solely on one metric, for example, only AQS or follower growth graph. You should always study the whole report and its data.
Let’s take a look at how to perform a fake follower audit on Instagram.
Here is the audience demographic data for an influencer from France.
As you can see, they have 35% of followers from Brazil. Such a big number of French speakers seems suspicious because most Brazilians don’t speak French. Other suspicious-looking locations are Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Ghana.
However, before you make any conclusions, make sure that an influencer is not an expatriate from Brazil or any other country.
The Audience Type metric divides all influencer’s followers into 4 categories:
Influencers: accounts with over 5K followers;
Mass followers: accounts with over 1500 followings;
Suspicious accounts: mostly bots.
A big number of mass followers and/or suspicious accounts indicates that followers might be increased artificially.
Every Instagram account has some amount of low-quality audiences, an exception is just a small number of accounts.
Usually, Instagram profiles with less than 20K followers have the largest percentage of low-quality audiences. Some of them grow these audiences artificially, but in most cases, it happens because of a huge amount of spam on Instagram. Thousands of accounts use scripts to automatically like and comment on posts and follow other users based on some hashtags or other settings.
If you see that the graph rapidly goes up, you should study the influencer’s posts carefully. There are 4 main reasons, why the graph can rocket:
An influencer starts a giveaway, like-time, etc.
An influencer has a shoutout from another influencer with a lot of followers.
An influencer starts to promote their post using Instagram Ads. But in this case, an influencer can’t get more than 5K followers in one day.
An influencer boosts the follower number artificially using bots.
In HypeAuditor, the graph is analyzed with the help of a machine learning algorithm, which takes into account hundreds of different patterns and makes conclusions with a high level of accuracy.
The Engagement rate shows how the audience engages with your content. The higher your ER, the better. A low ER can indicate inauthentic audiences.
According to statistics, the more followers you have, the lower your ER is.
This is explained by the fact that some accounts get blocked over time, some users leave Instagram, etc. So if you have, for instance, 100K followers, a part of them may not be using Instagram anymore.
Another reason for a low ER is the Instagram algorithm. It takes into account your relations with other users, and if you have even 10K followers, you can’t personally know or communicate with all of them.
The comment rate shows the percentage of an audience who leaves comments. In HypeAuditor, we use the latest 12 posts to calculate this metric. If the comment rate is very high, it might indicate that most of the comments came from Engagement Pods. In this case, you should check one more metric in the report — Comment Authenticity.
Likes-Comments Ratio shows whether an influencer gets more likes or more comments. The significant difference between yours and similar accounts might mean that the number of comments or likes was increased artificially.
Likes spread shows the difference in the number of likes between multiple posts. If the spread is too low it might indicate that the account paid for likes. Normally, followers like some posts more than others. That’s why it seems suspicious if all posts have the same amount of likes.
Identifying fake audiences is a key element of any influencer marketing campaign. It can help brands avoid spreading their message to the audience that doesn’t exist and wasting their budget on partnerships with the wrong influencers.