How to Detect Fake Instagram Accounts: A Free and Easy Method
View the complete Influence4You/HypeAuditor study on fraud on Instagram in France and our complimentary article on fake influencers.
The Instagram craze allows brands to gain visibility through influencers who can showcase them. However, this opportunity also leads to a blight that distorts influencer marketing: the purchase of likes and followers by some Instagram accounts. Even some celebrities have used it. In addition, brands are starting to be wary of these fake accounts that they no longer want to spend their influencer marketing budget on.
The race for followers can lead some influencers to cheat, attracted by the lure of financial gain and the desire to work with brands. Unfortunately, this totally breaks the very essence of influence: trust.
So how can you identify these fake accounts?
We will review several methods of identifying these fake accounts and influencers, and then compare them. The first of which?
- The followers/likes ratio.
This criterion is the easiest to see. Indeed, these are accounts that have a large number of followers, yet have very few or almost no likes on their posts. However, don’t jump to conclusions as this criterion does not necessarily signify a false account. Indeed, the rate of engagement of an account is variable according to each person, and tends to be inversely proportional to the size of the community (check out our study on engagement).
Similarly, when an influencer’s Instagram account has more follows than followers, it is most likely a bot account or one that uses the follow-unfollow method. In the latter case, the followers are real but the power of influence is less, or not very qualitative.
In addition, some then realize that they are too obvious. So they buy both their followers and their likes! It’s then no longer so straightforward.
Monitoring the development of statistics allows you to detect abnormal fluctuations of subscribers. But this method is not very reliable as some events can disrupt the natural growth pattern of an account. For example, the organization of a contest (giveaway), your account being shared by another (big) influencer, publicity following a buzz or if a hater who wants to sabotage the statistics of your account buys you followers to discredit you.
- Detection tools
Hypeauditor allows you to evaluate an account and to screen it to detect the proportion of fake followers and therefore the purchase of followers. This service is paid but reliable as it scans an Instagram account’s internal data. This information seems to be accurate and it provides information on the quality of the community, the engagement rate, the like-comment ratio, the interests of the audience, etc. Hypeauditor generates a report that lists the “assessment” of an account and gives it a final grade.
The tool is much talked about as it is very widely relayed by influencers on social networks. Because of this, the cost has become very expensive, even prohibitively!
How to get HypeAuditor for free, after the trial period, and identify fake Instagram followers on your campaigns?
We have great news!
Influence4You has formed an exclusive strategic partnership with HypeAuditor and integrates this data directly into Instagrammer profiles. So, by doing an influencer marketing campaign on Insta/Insta Stories, you’ll have the information about the quality of the influencers’ audience. In particular its number of bots, mass followers or real people who follow it. In short, HypeAuditor is free (or more precisely, included in the cost of your Influence4You subscription).
The free “no tool” solution: the quality of followers
Looking at the quality of followers directly in the list of followers allows you to see the type of community that follows an account and to discover many other details! Of course, the data will not be as precise as statistics and you need to devote time to the analysis to be able to deduce conclusions, but this method has the benefit of being totally free, within everyone’s reach and above all effective!
The process consists of randomly taking 20 profiles from the list of followers of the Instagram account you want to analyze. In order to be unbiased, don’t just click on the list and take the first ones that appear. This corresponds to the latest followers and would distort the search for the entire account.
Tip: enter different letters of the alphabet in the search bar (e.g. type “L” to take followers whose username starts with “L”) and take a random account from the list of followers that will be displayed again.
In this selection, you now need to study the account and thus verify if it is a real account held by a real person:
For this, take a look at:
- Whether they have a suspicious profile picture or not.
- The number of followers: an account that follows more than 2000 accounts may be a bot account created only to follow an account when buying followers. In this case, it will only have 0 or 1 follower(s).
- The description in the bio. If it is elaborate, then it is probably a real person.
- Posted content. Bot accounts can post, but they are often inconsistent or very suspicious photos.
- The country or language of the person. If a French account is primarily followed by Portuguese, for example, it’s not normal.
In short, in 3 minutes, make your own foolproof audit with these 20 random followers. Sort them into 3 columns: FAKE – NOT SURE – REAL FOLLOWER. Give 0 points for FAKE, 1 for NOT SURE and 2 for REAL FOLLOWERS. Add it up and divide by 40. You get a percentage. This will be a good, unbiased and free estimate of suspicious accounts. Get your paper and pen ready!
To see how the Influence4you platform works and in particular the HypeAuditor listing, click here:
Now for some good news: Instagram has decided to clean up its followers by banning fake accounts. Maybe this problem of buying followers will soon be a distant memory… We hope so, even if in the short term we’re not convinced.