It can sometimes be difficult to verify reality on the internet - almost anything can be fictionalized or falsified! This even includes Instagram engagement. The truth is, Instagram is quickly and permanently getting rid of the ability to participate in the purchase of fake followers and engagement.
The enticing factors about fake followers is that they’re quick and cheap:
1000 fake followers = $3 - $8
1000 fake likes = $4 - $9
1 fake comment = $0.12
It used to be difficult to tell who had real followers and who had fake followers, but Instagram is on top of it. Keep in mind that when you buy fake followers, they’ll fall off over time and/or be deleted by Instagram.
If you’re using influencers for your brand, here are some ways to test how accurate their following and engagement is.
1. Check For Large Follower Increases
Sure, it can be hard to consistently keep your eyes on specific influencers, especially since you’d probably have to do it manually, but it’s definitely worth your while. Some influencers get lazy or assume people won’t be watching their account closely and will bulk-purchase engagement or followers. One moment they’ll be at 10k followers and the next they’ll be at 15k. Unless they happened to have something go viral, this wasn’t an accident. If you’re a brand and participating in brand ambassadorship or influencer marketing strategies you should keep a close eye on this.
Yes, many influencers can have rollercoaster-looking engagement (high engagement some days, weirdly low engagement other days) and that can be normal especially when the Instagram algorithm changes, but extreme and infrequent or patterned spikes are what you need to look out for. To ensure an influencer hasn’t gone viral, you can even Google them to see if anything significant has happened with them in between certain dates. If something has, there will be articles.
Another aspect of buying fake followers and likes is...beware of the “drip feed.” Some platforms where you can purchase fake followers and engagement offer this feature. Say you purchase 1,000 fake followers. You can choose to receive them that day or to be spread out over a matter of hours or days. It will probably give an option to do something like 100 a day for 10 days, so just keep an eye on suspicious patterns where they’re growing the same amount every day.
2. Check Their Engagement Rate
This used to be a thing you had to do manually, even just 3+ years ago! Now if you google “engagement rate calculator” several options come up. Cross reference for accuracy with 2-3 of those websites but you’ll have a pretty good idea of where an influencer falls on the engagement rate scale.
Yes, the instagram algorithm can affect engagement and not everyone will have good engagement! That’s OKAY. There’s a big difference in low engagement because of the purchase of fake followers and low engagement due to the algorithm or the quality of content you’re posting.
By buying fake followers, you’re decreasing your engagement rate significantly. Now if someone has purchased fake engagement, it’ll be fairly obvious. The accounts that have liked or commented on the post will:
Often have no profile picture
Often have a long username most likely including lots of numbers
Have anywhere from 0-9 (maybe 12) total posts on their account
They probably won’t be following this person
Additional tip: Rumor has it that although 500 likes might show up on someone's post, Instagram doesn’t count the perceived fake engagement in their algorithm and therefore it won’t show up on an engagement calculator! We’re not entirely sure if that’s true, but it’s a good thing to watch out for.
3. Check Their Comments
Some platforms where you can purchase comments allow you to write in what you’d want commented on your post(s) so it comes off authentic. However, the same usually goes for fake comments as it does for fake engagement overall:
They’ll often have no profile picture
They’ll often have a long username most likely including lots of numbers
They’ll have anywhere from 0-9 (maybe 12) total posts on their account
They probably won’t be following this person
Also be sure and take a look at the quality of the comments. If it seems spammy, it probably is. If a lot of accounts are just commenting emojis, that’s a sign that something’s up. The comments should somehow be relating back to the original post.
Now, check if the person who commented liked the post as well. Probably not. And usually you like a post before you comment on it. It’s just social media etiquette!
Purchasing comments are also more expensive so someone is more likely to purchase likes, and you’ll see a lot of likes with no comments. Hmmm...suspicious.
For people who are purchasing or considering purchasing fake followers and engagement, it’s a LOT of work to keep up appearances so here’s a little tip. People and brands are now more interested in engagement. So if you’re buying fake followers, your engagement will be significantly lower because you’re those fake followers aren’t there to engage with you. Now you have to buy likes. But wait...if you don’t have comments either, people are going to notice! So now you have to buy those...each time you post.
See what we mean?
It’s easier and more beneficial for you to apply strategies that will be effective for your brand. Sure, it may take a bit and involve some trial and error but it’s worth it! We have clients with only 2,000 followers that bring in brand deals because their audience is SO engaged and that’s what the brands want to see...real people who trust the influencer they follow and will buy the product.
Take a look at the following blog posts to figure out which Instagram strategy may be best to grow your brand the REAL way:
And when you’re ready for a team to bring you partnerships with influencers, you want to find a team like Social Light who has an in-house system. We partner with brands and influencers to cultivate lasting and real relationships.
Email us to learn more!