REPORT: Influencer marketing benchmarks and trends 2023

How to Spot Fake Instagram Influencers?

Fake Instagram influencers are not good for business for a couple of reasons: first, they don’t justify the invested budget, and second, they can seriously undermine the brand’s reputation. They also do not adequately assess audience engagement, acquisition cost, and other important digital marketing metrics.

If you want to avoid it, our new article is right for you.

What are fakes on Instagram, and why do they even exist?

The number of followers on social networks is one of the most visible indicators of success. Not surprising that some influencers decide to take a shortcut to fame, and instead of building an audience, they buy it. Indeed, an Instagram business page with 10K+ followers looks more impressive than the one with 1K+. The nuance is that anyone can buy subscribers, but not everyone can form the audience's opinion!

Fake Instagram followers are profiles created to massively follow other social media accounts for money. Usually, such accounts are inactive: they neither like posts nor leave comments. The audience in this case is a very strange thing: it seems that an influencer has it, but it is not real. If fake followers start to become active, it is usually in a negative way: sending spam - from memes to fake news.

So what shall an advertiser do? On the one hand, the global sales through social media platforms grow annually and are estimated to reach $958 billion in 2022, according to the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report. On the other hand, dealing with non-audited influencers brings real and serious risks, namely:

  • Draining the budget 

The larger the audience of an influencer is, the higher the price per post or story will be. Imagine spending big bucks on an influencer with millions of followers, only to find out that they are promoting your brand with bots and inactive accounts.

  • Decreased engagement 

Since fake followers are inactive most of the time, they will not interact with the content. As a result, engagement will be minimal, making it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.

  • Damage to brand reputation 

A brand that buys fake subscriptions is a scandal. This can not only destroy the image of the company on Instagram but also shake the confidence in the business as a whole.

  • Messy newsfeed 

No one wants their newsfeed to be filled with junk posts, which is exactly what happens when your audience is made up of fake accounts.

How to avoid it? Find Instagram Influencer Marketing to promote with an organic audience that may actually be interested in your product. But how to do it? Below, we discover what metrics a marketer should keep in mind to spot fake influencers.

How to check an influencer’s validity?

It is worth checking an Instagram influencer in two cases: if you are going to engage the influencer in your ad campaign and if you are engaged in social media marketing yourself. In both cases, an audit will help save money and reputation, since you will work for the “cleanest” audience possible, increasing the chances of conversion.

Of course, you can make a basic estimate manually by calculating the engagement rate or the number of interactions per 1000 followers. It requires time and effort, and in digital marketing, you rarely have much time to spend on manual calculations. Luckily, there are specially created tools that help to get much more than just basic estimates. 

One of these tools is the BuzzGuru platform. It allows you to get a complete analysis of an Instagram creator’s profile. Below, we discover how it helps to check an influencer’s account on Instagram and make the right decision. 

1. General statistics

General statistics

It is always a good idea to have some general statistical data about an influencer at hand, including the number of subscribers, average number of likes and comments, the number of views a marketer can expect to get from collaboration with this influencer, and the engagement rate, which is already calculated.

2. Channel quality

Channel quality

Next, we suggest studying the channel quality. It is valued from 1 to 100, where 1 is the worst possible value and 100 is the best one. This metric shows the activity and level of engagement rate of this particular channel. 

The channel quality metric represents the total quality of the channel, and it includes 4 important indicators:

  • Engagement rate,%

Median audience engagement for the last 10 posts.

  • Number of likes,%

Median likes to subscribers ratio for the last 10 posts.

  • Number of comments

Median comments per 1000 likes for the last 10 posts.

  • Distribution of likes

The difference in the number of likes from post to post. If this score is low, it may be a sign that an influencer has paid for the likes.

3. Account activity

Account activity

The following metric is the account activity. It is presented in a form of a chart showing how the account growth changed within the last 7 months. It includes the changes in the subscribers’ count, average likes, and average subscriptions. 

Additionally, we suggest tracking the account activity for the recent 10 posts in an influencer’s account. This chart demonstrates the changes in the average number of likes and comments on posts:

Activity chart

It provides an opportunity to spot the abnormal growth of the subscriber count or the number of likes, which can be a fake red flag.

4. Audience statistics

Audience statistics

The following metric is extremely important for spotting a fake influencer, as it includes the following analytics:

  • Audience credibility,%

This indicator shows if an influencer has a real audience. If this parameter is less than 75% then it can probably be a sign of fraud. 

  • Likers credibility,%

Low likers credibility means that an influencer could have purchased likes to fake a high engagement rate.

  • Likes from non-followers,%

It reflects the percentage of likes coming from the audience that doesn’t follow an influencer. The higher this percentage is, the more effective this influencer may be at reaching the audience outside of the followers. This can be a sign that a post by this influencer can have “viral” potential.

5. Content analytics

Content analytics

Finally, we suggest studying the “Content analytics” block. It is composed of 4 meaningful parameters:

  • Likes count,%

It reflects the median number of likes to followers for the last 10 posts.

  • Distribution of likes,%

It is the difference in the number of likes between posts. A low score here might be a sign that this particular influencer has paid for likes.

  • Comments count,%

This indicator shows an average number of comments per 1000 likes for the last 10 posts.

  • Engagement rate,%

This is to show the median audience engagement for the last 10 posts.


Fake followers on an influencer’s account are inactive profiles that serve to create an image of a person’s popularity. Unluckily for advertisers, Instagram creators sometimes do pay for fake followers to quickly promote their accounts. However, the reputation built this way is hardly trusted: since the audience is not real, the brand’s credibility may become as fragile as a soap bubble. 

To build a successful ad campaign through influencer marketing, it is important to evaluate the quality of the audience of a creator - manually or through special software. With the BuzzGuru analytics platform, you can analyze the data on every influencer you would like to cooperate with and verify if a creator is credible. It is your fast and easy way to start an advertising campaign with reliable creators.

Try BuzzGuru today! Submit for a free trial and check out platform’s capabilities by yourself.