Detecting & avoiding fake influencers

Like everything else in life, social media has its fair share of fraud. Followers can be bought and sold, likes can be automated, and there are all kinds of strategies to boost followers without having to commit to quality content creation.


As marketers, it’s critical that your message hits your target audience. And if an influencer you contract has falsified their audience metrics, you’re the one who’s losing out. But thankfully, there are ways to see which influencers have amped up their stats through illicit means. The truth is in the data. You just need to know what to look for.

2.2. Detecting and avoiding fake influencers

What Instagram can show you

If you’re searching directly on Instagram for influencers, there are some tell-tale signs that a profile may be fake, or that it may use unorthodox strategies in the attempt to make it look more impressive than it is.


Use this checklist to help you analyze a profile’s authenticity:

Are there sufficient posts?

If a profile has no posts, or very few, it might be fake. While younger influencers tend to archive more content, it’s still strange to see a profile with very few publications and a lot of followers.


Are there comments?

Older age groups generally comment less, and in some countries, people may just be less participative on social media. But if a profile has a lot of followers and 0 to few comments, something’s probably not right.


Do the comments seem natural?

Are the comments written in the same language that the influencer communicates in? Do the comments make sense? Are they relevant to the post? If not, this could indicate that the influencer has purchased fake comments shared by bots. Take a look at the profiles leaving the comments and see if they look like real people.


Are there very few likes compared to followers?

This could be a sign that the user bought fake followers.


Are video views on par with likes?

If you see that an influencer’s photos have tons of likes, but their videos only have a few reproductions each, this could be a sign of purchased likes.


Do the likes vary a lot from post to post?

Big jumps between the amount of likes from one post to another could be a sign of something shady. For example, if one post has 200 likes, and the next 2000, maybe the influencer tampered with the system to boost their likes.


Do the likes vary depending on the content?

Generally speaking, photos that include people tend to have more likes on Instagram, except maybe when a profile centers around something like photography, art, decoration or travel. Also, check to see if the photos that have the most likes relate to the theme of the profile. If the profile belongs to a fashion influencer, the audience is presumably interested in that, and so posts related to fashion should have more likes than pictures of landscapes or food. If not, the likes may be coming from bots, who don’t distinguish between different types of content.

Master influencer marketing with Heepsy

An industry that already generates 6.6 billion dollars

How Heepsy's influencer analytics can help

You should definitely take a look at the Instagram profile of any influencer you’re thinking about collaborating with. And while you can use Instagram to help you manually assess a profile’s strengths and weaknesses, there’s a much more efficient way to do this: using Heepsy.


Heepsy analyzes data directly from Instagram and presents it to you as easy-to-understand, visual influencer analytics. You’ll save a lot of time and effort if you let the software do the dirty work.


These are the different metrics you’ll see while using Heepsy, as well as some tips on how to use them to detect fake influencers:

Quality score

Heepsy’s quality score shows you an overall rating of the influencer’s profile, displayed as one clear, concise metric. When you look at an influencer’s quality score, you’ll see a score in the form of a number (from 100), a color (ranging from red to green) and a word (good, bad, etc.). The quality score gives you a general sense of if the account is healthy or suspicious.

Engagement rate

Engagement rate is the level of interaction a profile has when compared to its number of followers. It’s measured in likes and comments. Good engagement is good for your brand, as people who trust an influencer are more likely to trust brands the influencer promotes.


The average engagement rate depends on how many followers the influencer has. Profiles with 10K followers won’t have the same engagement as those with 1M. Heepsy will show you an influencer’s engagement compared to others in their followers segment, alongside a qualification ranging from “very low” to “suspiciously high”.


If an influencer has acquired their followers through buying them or using follow/unfollow, they’ll probably have very low engagement. Equally suspicious is very high engagement, which may suggest fake likes or comments. As engagement is one of the most important details in influencer campaigns, make sure you check it out before setting up any collaboration.

Follower growth rate

Follower growth rate is the increase/decrease of an account’s followers over time. The best influencers grow their follower base through a steady commitment to quality content creation. It may take them years to earn their followers, but here, “slow and steady wins the race” is definitely true.


A healthy growth rate should be a steady climb. If you see sudden peaks and drops, something’s up. First, check to see if the influencer has recently hosted a giveaway. These often require a follow, and people love the chance to win free stuff. Therefore, this could be visualized as a peak (loads of people joining) and then a dip (unfollowing once the giveaway is over). Other legitimate reasons for spikes in follower growth could be that the influencer became famous from appearing on TV, going viral, or linking up with a more famous influencer or celebrity.


If none of these are true, a spike in followers may show that they were bought. Really, what can’t money buy these days?

Comments/likes ratio

The comments/likes ratio shows just that: how many comments does a profile have compared to likes? This metric is useful because some influencers buy fake likes bot not fake comments. Analyzing this ratio could give you insight into the authenticity of a profile’s likes. Heepsy also generates the average comments/likes for an influencer segment, so you can have a clearer perspective on how a specific influencer stacks up to their peers.

Audience demographics

Heepsy shows you a breakdown of an influencer’s audience, according to country, age, gender, language and interests. You should pay special attention to the country demographics. Check to see if most of the influencer’s followers are from their country of origin or residence.


For example, an Italian-born influencer who now lives in Los Angeles may have an audience that mostly comes from Italy and the USA. If you see that most of an influencer’s followers are from countries that have no connection to them whatsoever, it could be a sign of bought followers.

Audience authenticity

Heepsy provides another metric, which shows you the percentage of followers that appear to be authentic. AI helps to detect the types of behaviors typical in bots, and suggests which portion of an influencer’s following are suspicious of such. As you don’t want to invest your marketing budget in bots or fake followers, make sure to take a look at this metric.

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