In a world where you can click your mouse a few times and legally buy yourself the title of Lord or Lady, it’s no wonder Instagram users have succumb to utilising virtual fakery to boost their egos and, more audaciously, their brand deals.
Fake followers, likes and comments are on the rise in the Instagram space, with brands often losing out to influencers claiming they have a larger following than they actually do. Often purchasing them in their thousands, an influencer or a brand has the opportunity to increase their ‘audience’ with little more than a direct debit. With Instagram attempting to clamp down on those providing these fraudulent marketing schemes, brands are increasingly savvy when it comes to identifying those faking it. For those less in the know, there are some easy ways to spot the authenticity of a user’s followers:
Despite a large following, a user’s posts might not be receiving the likes and comments you would expect for someone of their size. The reason? Their followers might not even exist! Engagement rate is simply the average number of engagements an influencer gets per post, divided by their number of followers, and multiplied by 100 to give a percentage. If this number is less than 1%, you can almost guarantee that a portion of their followers are bought bots.
Ever see photos spammed with emojis and generic comments such as ‘cool pic’ or ‘love this’? This is a tell-tale sign that the remarks are automated and are not posted by genuine followers. Fake engagers aren’t paid to make the comments sound authentic and personal – they’re designed to increase the popularity of a photo by creating a sense of buzz around it. As technology develops, companies, such as US based Dovetale, are helping businesses identify these types of bots and shut pages down. However, the boost in awareness surrounding this type of fraudulence is helping everyday users recognise it themselves.
Growth in their following
If followers are purchased, the non-organic growth of a page is easy to identify as it will highlight itself as a spike in their data, whereas genuine growth will run on a consistent trend line. There are a few exceptions to this, for example, if an influencer was involved in a viral piece of content this may rapidly increase their following, but more often than not, growth will be steady.
Although this information can be difficult to source, follower location can be a huge giveaway when it comes to fake followers. If a UK-based influencer has their largest audience in the Middle East, the misalignment could well be a revealing piece of demographical data. Understanding a brand’s target audience in relation to their product or brand message helps identify followers that would not be invested in a user’s content.
While the short-term gain of brand deals and momentary popularity might seem appealing to some Instagram users, it clearly undermines their genuine influence and authenticity. While you might not be able to identify every faker out there, be sure to have a quick read of their comments to suss out anyone trying to pull a fast one!