We’re at a point in time where SO many people on Instagram and Twitter are putting themselves out there… they’re becoming influencers, they’re marketing themselves as bigger and better, or they’re pushing their personal brand. This drive towards the way you handle yourself online is becoming the new norm, and I think the pressures of that might drive some people towards… well, towards faking the funk a little bit. What I mean is that there are definitely accounts out there that have a lot of fake followers… fake tribes! If you aren’t aware of what you’re looking at, it might seem like the person you’re looking at has an enormous following that they’ve cultivated over time. Thankfully, it’s not impossible to tell the difference!
More of than not a lot of these fake profiles are created en masse (Parlez-vous français, mademoiselle?) so of course, they’re pretty transparent! I’m practically a DIY Instagram detective at this point, so let me break down what you want to look for.
Breaking Down a Fake Profile
When you’re looking for fake profiles, there’s usually a couple of key giveaways that I notice right off bat. You have to think that either people or computer algorithms are making these, and they’re making A LOT at once. So naturally, there really isn’t a lot of effort that goes into each one.
If a profile:
- Doesn’t have a profile picture
- Has a name that is essentially gibberish or keyboard mashing
- Is missing a bio section
- Fits ALL of these + is private…
… Well, it’s probably safe to assume its a fake account!
The Ratio of Likes to Followers
I think this is the first thing to stand out to me. An account has several thousand followers and seems pretty legitimate, but then you dig a little deeper and… their posts only get a couple dozen likes!
I mean, what gives?! If you beef up your follower count with fake profiles + bots, then of course you aren’t going to get the real deal engagement you’re looking for! If posts don’t receive likes or authentic comments — more than “nice post” or “this is the quality post I was looking for!” — but they still boast HUGE follower lists, well… they more than likely have purchased fake followers.
Engagement is such a crucial part of building your own brand — it’s how you know whether or not your message is not only reaching your tribe… but actually registering with them or not. If you’re trying to advertise something (and this is for all you aspiring influencers out there ;)) and you aren’t getting likes or comments… try reworking your message. Often times we LOSE our audience because our message isn’t clear. Think about how fast you scroll through your feed… you need to be posting something that MAKES people stop in their tracks to see what you and your brand are about.
Your brand NEEDS to be clear and concise to get as much interaction with your tribe as possible!
A Lot at Once + Then Nothing
So this is another really obvious one that I look for when I think an account is faking it. Take a few minutes and scroll through their followers list and look for anything that stands out… accounts with missing profile pictures or even usernames that are seemingly gibberish are USUALLY signs of fake accounts.
Click on a few of them and you’ll pretty realize pretty immediately that there’s a distinct pattern with fake or bot accounts. All of their posts will have been made on the same date, and then almost if by magic… they fall off the face of the Earth and haven’t made a single post in months, sometimes even years!
View Their Views!
Okay so stay with me here… are you with me? Yes? When an influencer (or any account really) posts a video, you can click and check how many views it has. Now if the account in question has a pretty hefty amount of followers but next to no views on a video… Well, I think you know where I’m going with this at this point. Maybe their video post has a lot of likes and again, no views… BINGO! Buying likes is not only possible, but it happens all the time! Audience engagement is always a clear way of separating the real + the fake.
I can’t even wrap my head around this, to be honest. It doesn’t seem worth the time or even the effort to fake your internet presence this extent, especially when figuring out the truth is easy for anyone to do!
Let’s Break Out the Tools
Luckily enough for all us DIY InstaSleuths… there’s a whole array of investigative (and really informative) tools at our hands all over the web. You can even run some of them on yourself to see how your followers look, how much engagement you receive on your posts, and what you can possibly improve on. Most of these tools are free and — if it’s what you’re aiming for — can really open up possibilities for you and the way you manage your personal brand.
Hype Auditor is an amazing free tool that lets you look up any public Instagram profile and run an analysis report on it. It not only exposes any fake followers, but you can actually use it as a tool to get a better idea about YOUR presence. I know I’ve specifically talked about engagement a lot — the idea of really reaching your audience and how they interact with you and your message. Hype Auditor can help you gain a better idea of how you do with reaching your tribe, and maybe give you some new ideas or insight on what you should be trying differently. None of us are perfect anyways 😉
IG Audit is a pretty basic tool, but it gives you some REALLY important feedback (especially if you really do think someone you know bought followers). It takes any public Instagram account and tells you the average AND expected like and comment count… but it also analyzes their followers and comes back with a rough percentage on how many of them are real!
Social Blade is a really fun one. You can actually list the top 50, 100, 150 (it doesn’t matter how many, you get to choose) accounts from any social media platform. You can even choose the criteria that it ranks them by! There are a few catches though, unfortunately, like how Instagram accounts must be public + a business account. But either way, it’s such an incredible tool that can provide so much detailed information, give it a shot!
I always talk about how finding your voice and how vital it is when you’re developing your own personal brand, but what’s the point if you’re faking it?!
I mean, if a personal brand is just an extension of ourselves… what does it really mean if your tribe, the people who are waiting for you and your message, aren’t really there? Fake followers on social media are so common at this point, even some celebrity accounts have them!
I wouldn’t want to leave you with advice that I didn’t wholeheartedly believe and try to live by myself… when I say that engaging your audience + being clear with your message is important, I REALLY mean it guys. Just as I try to be the guide to all of you (MY tribe ;)), you need to be the guide to YOUR followers. Let’s use the platforms that we have to guide and change lives, and not fake the funk as influencers.
Being able to show someone the way to their goals, to inspire them to succeed, and to enable them to reach their own goals and more is why we’re here… it’s why I do this! If you’re looking to be the outstretched helping hand, you can’t just provide empty words without any real meaning. THAT is what truly engaging your audience is. Connect with your tribe on every level and I promise you’ll see and feel the difference you’re making.