Fake Instagram followers are everywhere, and some of them you may even buy yourself from a disreputable growth services provider. The question is, how do you tell when they’re fake? And why are they so bad for you, anyway?
By the end of this article, you’ll learn how to spot fake Instagram accounts and distinguish them from the real ones. But first, let’s reveal the reasons that fake Instagram accounts that follow you and interact with your brand are so damaging.
Why Are Fake Instagram Accounts Bad?
You may be wondering why it’s such a negative thing to have Instagram followers that aren’t real. Aren’t all accounts, real or fake, that engage with you good for your social media growth?
Not exactly. Here’s why.
In other words, buying fake followers or engagement from fake accounts is like throwing your money down the drain. They will literally be gone within days, and perhaps within hours.
But let’s say your fake Instagram followers don’t disappear (at least not right away). Most of the time, it’s easy to tell when an Instagram account isn’t real, even for someone with no social media marketing experience. We’re talking about Instagram users that are genuine. They may be fans of your content, but they may also be other brands and influencers – AKA, potential collaborators and sponsors.
If these important profiles can tell that a majority of your followers are fake, it could really hurt your brand reputation. It suggests that you’re not as authentic as you claim to be, and it could cost you followers as well as business opportunities.
How To Tell if an Instagram Account Is Fake: 5 Red Flags
The good news is you can learn how to spot fake Instagram accounts. That way, if any are following you, you can remove them. Plus, if you accidentally bought them from a growth services provider, you know not to purchase from that provider again.
Here are five red flags of fake Instagram accounts to watch out for.
Red Flag #1: Generic Username
A generic username, like John Smith or Jane Doe, is almost always a sign of a false account. Some fake profiles also use the names of other people, like celebrities, musicians, or even real users. They just add a few numbers or letters somewhere to make it “unique.”
Red Flag #2: Username with a Lot of Random Letters and Numbers
Anytime you see a username with a lot of random letters and numbers in it, that’s a red flag. Most real Instagram users create a username that means something to them, but a jumble doesn’t mean anything.
Red Flag #3: Stock Profile Picture or Posts
A real person is unlikely to upload a stock photo as their Instagram profile picture or post one to their timeline. If you look at one of your paid followers and notice that their photos don’t appear unique, you can reverse search for them using Google Lens and see if they originated somewhere else. If they did, you can be certain the account is false.
Red Flag #4: Blank Profile Except for Profile Picture
Users with blank profiles – i.e., no posts and an empty bio – except for their profile pictures, are almost always fake. Most likely, they were created for the sole purpose of selling to influencers or brands.
Red Flag #5: No Activity
It’s rare that you’ll come across a real Instagram account that doesn’t have any activity. If any of your followers aren’t liking or following other accounts, that may be a red flag – especially if you notice any of the other red flags we mentioned, as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Tell If an Instagram Account is Fake Based on Their Engagement?
Fake Instagram accounts tend to engage very little, if at all, with accounts they follow. If they leave comments, they are either generic or don't make any sense.
Why Would a Fake Instagram Account Follow Me?
Fake Instagram accounts may follow you to try to get you to follow them back or to click on a spam link in their profile. They may also come with an Instagram followers package you bought to grow your account.
Who Would Want to Create a Fake Instagram Account?
Spammers or disreputable growth services providers will create fake Instagram accounts to sell to unwitting buyers and scam people out of their money.
Is It Illegal to Create a Fake Instagram Account?
It's not against the law to create a fake Instagram account for satire or parody. If it knowingly harms or impersonates another person, that could lead to legal trouble.
What Can I Do to Remove Fake Instagram Accounts?
To remove fake accounts from your following, go to your Instagram profile, tap Followers, and select Remove next to any account you suspect is false.
Is It a Bad Thing for My Instagram Account to Have Fake Followers?
Yes. Fake followers provide no engagement, plus they make your brand look bad to real users.
Does Instagram Delete Fake Accounts?
Yes, Instagram deletes fake accounts as it finds them.
Don’t let fake Instagram accounts derail your plans to grow your brand. Keep an eye out for the five red flags that will tell you if the users following you or interacting with your posts are real or not.