This chapter might be one of the most interesting chapters for many reasons. I was excited about learning how to spot accounts that are faking it, because it opened my eyes to the reality of how many accounts are lying about their success.

There are a few ways I check the legitimacy of accounts. The most important website in my opinion is Social Blade which is free to use. Social Blade shows you the stats of every account that is in their system. Most likely than not, if an account has a larger following, it is included in Social Blade’s database and has been tracked.

The things you need to pay attention to are under a tab “Detailed Stats” where you can find change in followers for the last 30 days. If you see an account drop in followers every single day, that could be a big indication of that account purchasing fake followers in the past. Instagram is cleaning up and accounts with a lot of fake followers are losing followers daily in huge amounts.

Do not get hung on what I just said and classify every account that’s losing followers as a fake though. To understand it better, you will need to go into the page and go through posts. If an account has changed its theme or started posting low quality content, or not posting at all, it will lose followers naturally.

The most obvious fakes are spotted when they keep losing followers every single day and one or few days out of the month they get huge boosts of hundreds or even thousands of followers in a single day. Even then, you should go to their profile, scroll to the day of the big boost in followers and see how the post performed. It is very unlikely that a post with 1K likes resulted in 1K followers.

Graphs is another very important thing to take into consideration when deciding if account has cheated or not. On the same website, scroll down to the bottom of the “Detailed Stats” page and look at the three graphs provided for you.

Total Followers graph shows the graph for how total number of followers for that account changed over time. If an account grew completely organically, you would see a very smooth curve going up. If an account was buying followers to keep looking like it’s growing, it will have a lot of little spikes all across the curve. It will look like tiny little teeth on the upward curve. If they bought a lot all at once, the curve will have a sharp rise and a sharp stop.

Even after I have posted semi-viral posts, my curve jumped up fast, but it died out over time and so there were no sharp edges after it peaked.

Another curve that you need to pay attention to is named “Total Following” and this curve can be used to figure out if the account was running follow/unfollow bots. If you look at the Total Following curve and it looks like Dow Jones performance during trading hours, then it is pretty clear that this account ran bots that followed and unfollowed other accounts.

Using bots is against Instagram terms and conditions, so they should be used at your own discretion. I have personally never used a bot or bought any followers on @ignastym4 account and am planning on keeping this account free of any spammy tactics. I will keep on testing all of Instagram tactics that I come across.

I do have to admit that I have used bots for purposes of growing my ecommerce accounts as well as other businesses. I have no reason to be dishonest about it and I do not think that it is right of others to buy followers and bots and then sell courses on how they grew their following quickly and how they can teach you to do the same as well. Please do your homework when it comes to listening to people’s advice.

Engagement vs Fake Engagement

When companies look for influencers to contact to promote their products, they always check the engagement of those influencers’ pages. If engagement is not good, they will not do business with them.

Engagement is usually calculated by adding the likes and comments from the 12 most recent posts and dividing by the number of followers. When doing so, make sure that the last post was up for at least 4 hours before doing the calculations. If it is posted within 4 hours, disregard it and count engagement on the next 12 posts while skipping the most recent one.

If you are lazy, like myself, plug in Instagram handles of accounts that you are trying to check out into Influencer Marketing Hub website and it does the math for you.

The numbers you should go by are as follows:

– Huge accounts (over 1 million) should have around 2% engagement, but nothing at all below 1%.

– Smaller accounts should have between 3 and 10%. The smaller account, the more engagement it should have.

When taking into consideration the number of comments, make sure that the comments are not repeated. Some accounts ask other accounts to comment 5 or so times per post to boost their own engagement rate artificially. If you would only check Influencer Marketing Hub and not do any further digging, accounts that have been using this strategy would look legit on paper. However, it is easily spotted that they are “boosting” engagement rates if you look closely and analyze their posts. Save your money and time. Do proper research.

Another way to see if an account is worthy of getting a shoutout from is by checking if the accounts that engage with its posts are repetitive. If they are, this would be a sign of an engagement group liking and commenting on the posts. To get an accurate engagement numbers you would have to disregard those accounts commenting.