Share the Sanity

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There’s an ever-growing contention that more followers on social media means more popularity – and we all want to be popular (don’t we?). In a world where the number of your Instagram followers seems to increasingly measure your deemed social worth – some people are rigging the game – and some are even getting away with it!

Follower numbers and likes are big business, so individuals and businesses alike are cashing in.

So, how do you separate fact from fiction? Here we reveal 5 top ways to spot fakery in an Instagram account:

  • Engagement is low – the number one tell-tale sign that an account is faking it is by looking at their engagement level. An easy way to do that is to look at the number of likes their posts are getting. As a rule of thumb, a typical like-to-follower number ratio is 3-6%, so you’re looking at 30-60 likes for an account with 1,000 followers. 30 likes for an account with 20,000 followers? Then the bulk of those followers are not real and are most likely bought (yes, you can buy fake followers – a collection of ‘bots’ and ‘dummy accounts’). Not only is this practice icky, but Instagram can even shut you down for it. Plus, it’s painfully obvious.
  • Engagement is high enough but weird – right, so some sneakier accounts go a step further than buying fake followers and they buy fake engagement (what, huh, how?). It’s the same practice as buying followers (using dodgy websites) and they will have 100’s or even 1000’s of bot or fake accounts like your specific post. So how do you spot these smart fakers? Well, there’s three key methods: 
  1. Paying for these campaigns can add up and it’s time consuming to do, so it’s common that somewhere down the line there’s a post that didn’t get the same treatment – so look out for a post that’s not ‘liked’ up to the hilt.
  2. The fake accounts who like the posts tend to look fake (see point 3).
  3. Any comments tend to be weird, overenthusiastic or vague – so look out for those!
  • The followers look dodgy … real dodgy – fake accounts tend to follow hundreds if not thousands of accounts whilst only being followed by a small handful (if any). They tend to have generic profile pictures of things like sunsets (a typical one) and they tend to have very few posts of their own (if any). Lastly, they tend to be foreign accounts (which makes the reason why they are following a little tea shop in the middle of nowhere – very odd).
  • They are following more (or the same) amount of accounts than people following them – whilst not technically cheating (and more innocent than the above), if you follow an account they tend to follow you back (if only for a while). If an account is following 10,000 accounts but is only followed by 6,000 accounts – it’s safe to say that the bulk of their followers are just doing it in reciprocity!

Jordan Baker