The days are long gone since you could say, “It must be true – I read it on the internet.” You cannot assume that just because a person or brand appears to have a ton of followers on Instagram that these “people” take any interest in that account – or indeed that these followers are real people at all.

Fake Followers

Genuine accounts tend to have similar patterns when it comes to numbers of followers, people followed, and levels of engagement. Although everybody operates their accounts differently, you can still easily spot outliers.

Popular brands and influencers will have more followers than accounts they follow – often by a substantial margin. But, an ordinary Instagrammer may have a rate closer to 1:1. If there is any doubt that the followers aren’t legitimate, start taking a look at profiles. Fake accounts will typically have one or more of these attributes:

  • No profile photo
  • Random numbers/characters in their account name
  • Following thousands of accounts
  • Few or no posts

Random Spikes in Activity

From zero to hero? Doubtful.

Often a bot will follow hundreds or even thousands of people the day its created. It may even be capable of sharing a few pieces of content that day to make it seem legitimate. However, once the bot has followed sufficient people, it stops and relies on people not checking their accounts and unfollowing the fake account. And just like that, the account becomes fairly stagnant again.

Genuine accounts, however, tend to have relatively steady growth in their follower numbers. The rate of increase may grow once they are recognized as an influencer or find their brand being showcased by a major publication, but they will not have a massive burst of followers in a  short period of time (as most fake accounts do).

Lackluster Bios

People creating fake accounts typically don’t take the time to fill in any personal details or write a thought-out bio. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for fake accounts to simply leave the bio section blank.

On occasion, they sometimes even adjust the settings to make the profile hidden. This makes your investigation harder, as you can’t see their details. You should ask yourself, however, how genuine is somebody who hides their bio details. Are they likely to make an engaging, dedicated follower?

Generic or Irrelevant Comments

Some of the smarter accounts create comments to make them appear genuine. The problem is that these comments are generic and essentially pointless. For example, if you find an account that continues to use the same comments, such as “good picture” or “good job” odds are that you can peg them as fake.

The only thing worse than meaningless comments is spammy ones. Steer clear of any account that is clearly trying to sell something, especially if they are trying to get any personal information. These accounts aren’t just fake, they’re dangerous.

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