Let’s talk about influencers and fake followers

Sep 11, 2019 · 3 min read

One of the biggest concerns of marketing managers today is the rise of fake followers and how to detect them.

Before getting deep in the subject, lets clear out what this means: a fake follower is a social profile created by a system (bot).

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Bot farm. Photo credits to Stripepartners.com

Nowadays, anyone can buy fake followers and even likes, comments and views.

When it comes to these fake profiles, clearly, they don’t have any objective value… what’s the point of having a ton of machines watching our content?

The reason why so many influencers (and some brands) choose to buy fake follower is because it simply “embellishes” their numbers.


When it comes to detecting fake influencers one of the major issues is that as Instagram hardens its policies, bots companies get more sophisticates.

At the beginning, a bot was a profile that followed thousands of accounts but with no picture nor content.

In the present time, some bots have many featured stories in their bio, followers and some posts in their feed. This makes them almost invisible to Instagram.


Sorry for the bad news but in a thousand followers accounts, Instagram does not allow to see a whole list of people that follows a profile. Actually, in the best scenario, Instagram will only show 300.

On Sway Map we think that these numbers are not accurate enough to extrapolate and have a precise percentage of fake followers… And even though our competitors do it, we don’t consider it appropriate.

The only platforms that have access to this information are, for example, apps that show who has unfollowed. If a person registers their Instagram profile, the app gets access to a complete follower list.

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Bots intearcting with an influencer


On Sway May we recommend a series of steps before selecting an influencer, let’s have a look:

1. Engagement check: many influencers buy followers and, in most cases, engagement is low as a consequence. The ideal engagement for an influencer is between 5% and 15%.

2. Once the first filter passed, we get into some of their profile´s posts randomly to check what sort of comments they are receiving: are there many comments that contain only emojis and phrases such as “nice”, “awesome” or “great pic”? These are probably bots so we shouldn’t take these comments into account.

3. Lastly, we recommend to take a quick look to the likes on their posts and randomly enter theses profiles. Does it seem natural for these profiles to like their content or it seems odd? If it’s the latter, they are probably bots.


We can’t know for sure what is the % of fake followers but we can analyze if the user’s behavior that interact with the influencer’s content seems natural or not. Plus, we would have previously analyzed the content and metrics of the influencer to prevent any risks.

If you want to check what influencers are best suited for your brand, we recommend our Sway Map Platform. To request 7-day free trial click here.

Please visit our website for more information. Leave a comment below to tell us what you think about fake influencers.


Swaymap analyses big data from influencers and brands…

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