Social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, connecting millions of individuals worldwide. With its exponential popularity, Instagram (IG) has emerged as one of the leading platforms for sharing photos and videos and engaging with a vibrant community. However, as Instagram’s user base continues to grow, so does the prevalence of fake accounts that can include fake profiles, posts, engagement, and followers.
Fake IG accounts are in fact, one of the biggest problems the platform is faced with. You’ve probably come across a fake account or post if you’ve spent any amount of time on Instagram. But may not have recognized any of the posts or accounts on Instagram as fake.
According to a recent study by cybersecurity firm Cheq, approximately 95 million bot accounts infest Instagram, accounting for around 9.5% of the platform’s total user base. This is a staggering statistic, and it means one thing: users and brands need to be more vigilant than ever on social media.
Deceptive accounts pose a serious threat to users, as they could lead to scams, identity theft, and invasion of privacy. Another growing concern is that fake users often dupe unsuspecting brands into believing their accounts are managed by genuine influencers who can help them promote their products and services.
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Why is There a Growing Number of Fake Instagram Accounts?
The main reason for fake Instagram accounts is the importance placed on the number of followers an account has. And the difficult process of acquiring those followers organically. The individuals who buy fake accounts with high follower counts are simply looking for a faster way to measure up to the competition without putting in the work.
And they don’t just stop there. These fake Instagram users go on to create fake posts. Sometimes making up stories or more commonly—pretend to be someone they are not. There is a multitude of reasons why someone would create fake Instagram accounts and posts. In some cases, they are looking to scam their followers into making purchases of non-existent products.
However, one of the growing issues we have been seeing is when fake Instagram accounts with fake postings and stories, are being used to dupe unsuspecting brands. In what way? By fooling these brands into thinking that these fake accounts are managed by genuine Instagram influencers who can help them promote their products and services.
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Whatever the reasons are for people creating a fake Instagram post or even a fake Instagram account, it’s just important to remember that they are out there!
We are not going to cover the reasons why these folks resort to these scammy tactics. We’ll dedicate a future post to doing that. Instead, today, we’re going to teach you how to recognize a fake Instagram account and post when you see one.
The Effects of Fake Instagram Accounts on Businesses and Brands
Companies and brands that partner with influencers invest in the influencer’s platform and the level of trust that the influencer’s followers have in them. A lot of companies are willing to pay top dollar to work with influencers who are relevant to their brand. And influencers with a large following in the hopes that this will result in a larger audience and an expanded customer base.
This means that businesses that are taken in by fake accounts with large follower numbers are effectively being scammed and losing out on their investment.
So, how can your brand avoid fake Instagram accounts and collaborate with powerful and genuine influencers?
A low number of posts, lack of engagement on the account, and an imbalanced follower-to-following ratio are some telltale signs of fake accounts on Instagram. The bottom line is that spotting a fake account requires careful attention to detail and observant social media practices.
In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the world of fake accounts on Instagram, exploring additional telltale signs and strategies to recognize and avoid them. By being aware, users and brands can safeguard their online presence and enjoy a more secure and authentic social media experience.
We want you to learn how you can avoid falling for these scams. So here are a few tips to help you recognize fake Instagram accounts and posts.
Tips for Recognizing Fake Instagram Accounts and Posts
These tips will help make you wiser for the next time you scroll through Instagram accounts. However, we’d like to remind you that there are some cases where an Instagram account or post may show all signs of being fake but they are 100% real.
So the best thing we can suggest is first to understand how to spot these fakers. Then use your own judgment as to how you wish to proceed.
Let’s say you’re a brand looking to partner with reputable Instagram influencers. But you come across what you believe to be a fake account based on what you will learn here. Then the simple approach is to completely skip past the suspect account. After all, if you think they’re fake, then chances are their followers will think they’re fake. So they would have very little chance of having any success promoting your brand and products.
Now get your pen and paper out. Here are the tips to help you spot fake Instagram accounts and posts.
1. Fake Instagram Account Bios
Since fake Instagram accounts are usually trying to copy a real account and draw in followers they will make their profile photo a picture of an attractive man or woman often in a state of undress. They’re hoping that this photo will make the account seem more attractive and interesting to those who stumble upon it. However, if you take a look at their posts, the person from the profile photo will be nowhere to be found.
It’s not uncommon to also use pictures of models or celebrities, or not to have a profile picture at all. Not everyone who makes fake IG profiles bother to make them look organic. Another thing you should take a look at is the bio. It will often have unrealistic promises or an outlandish background story.
An Instagram bio with incomplete profile information is a big red flag. Keep in mind that a fake account owner may not want to reveal their true identity, so they may not fill out their profile information completely or include a profile photo. Here are a few other ways to spot a potentially fake Instagram account from the bio:
Inconsistent or copied bio:
Fake Instagram accounts often copy bios from real accounts but may have changes and inconsistencies. For example, an extra letter, number, or symbol may be added to the bio.
Follows a high number of accounts:
Pay attention to the number of accounts the profile is following. Fake accounts often follow a significant number of accounts to make themselves look legitimate.
Take a closer look at the username in the bio. In some cases, the username may not match the person’s name on the profile – a red flag for a fake account.
If the bio features unrealistic promises or an outlandish background story, you can be reasonably sure the account has been created to dupe unsuspecting users and brands.
2. Fake Instagram Posts
We’ve already mentioned that a fake account won’t have the person in their profile picture in any other posts. If they mention a profession in their bio, the posts usually won’t be related to that field. These disparities should be fairly easy to spot even from a quick glance through their profile.
If you want to go further into confirming whether the IG account is fake take a look at:
- Post frequency and time frame: Take note of how frequently the user posts and the time frame in which most posts are made. Many fake profiles are very eager to achieve their goal of monetizing the profile as quickly as possible. To that end, they typically share several posts in a very short time frame to make the account seem populated.
Low engagement: While there may be many posts on the page if you notice the posts have very little activity, are often unrelated, or even downright strange, it could be a fake profile.
3. Fake Instagram Followers
This is one of the best indicators that an Instagram account is fake. An imbalance in the follower-to-following ratio is a telltale sign that you’re dealing with a fake account. A follow ratio of 0.5 or less (following two or more accounts for every one follower), is often considered a bad ratio and can be associated with spammy behavior.
Here are two more signs to look out for:
- Unrealistic follower count: A profile with only 10 posts is very unlikely to have gained 10K followers organically. This could indicate that the follower count has been artificially inflated by buying followers or using bots to generate fake accounts that follow the profile.
- Extremely high “following” number: Fake Instagram accounts often max out the following feature at around 7,500. However, remember to consider other factors, along with the follower count, to determine the authenticity of an account. Look for engagement levels, such as likes, comments, and the quality of followers’ profiles, to assess an account’s credibility.
Use an App to Spot Fake Instagram Accounts & Scammers
Brands invest significant time, effort, and money into influencer marketing campaigns. So when a brand is duped by a fake influencer there’s a lot at stake. Fortunately, several tools and Instagram apps are created specifically to help brands determine whether an account is real or fake. These apps use statistics and authentication technology to verify whether an account is real or not. The best part – they are available for free or relatively cheap in your phone’s app store.
- HypeAuditor: HypeAuditor offers a free Instagram Audit tool that can be used to spot fake followers and analyze the authenticity of an influencer’s audience and engagement rates.
- Social Blade: Social Blade is a platform that provides analytics and statistics for YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram. It can help identify sudden spikes in followers or engagement, which may indicate fake followers or activity.
Alternatively, partnering with a trusted influencer-management platform like Afluencer could be the way to go. Whether you’re looking for beauty, tech, or health influencers (or even influencers from another niche), the platform can connect you with reliable, verified, and authentic influencers for your next brand campaign.
How to Find Genuine Instagram Influencers
Finding genuine Instagram influencers for your brand campaign can be a critical step in ensuring a successful marketing strategy.
Firstly, it’s essential to define your target audience and understand their demographics and interests. This will help you identify influencers whose followers align with your brand. Research relevant hashtags related to your niche or industry. Use Instagram’s search function to explore posts, accounts, and hashtags; it can help you discover influencers already discussing subjects related to your brand.
It’s also a good idea to dive into the influencer’s comment section to spot real engagement. Look for meaningful conversations, authentic interactions, and positive sentiment. Once you’ve identified potential influencers who match your brand, send a personalized message. Discuss campaign details and expectations and negotiate compensation if necessary.
Afluencer is a leading marketing resource platform that can help you find and collaborate with top social media influencers. The platform enables brands to search by interests, requirements, channels, and more.