How to Tell Real Vs Fake Followers on Instagram

Hello, Hello. Welcome to episode 454. I wanted to hop in today and I want to talk about real followers versus fake followers. And we’re going to talk about this in the context of Instagram because this is where I’m seeing it just get worse right now. And so I want to talk about this in that context, but all of these sort of lessons and rules and thoughts apply universally because the other place where this is a freaking epidemic is Twitter. And we see a lot of this on Facebook too.

I think we see it for pretty much the same reason universally, which is, when people buy followers, the accounts that are selling followers need to be connected with a certain amount of people. And so they’re connecting with just about anybody. And so that’s one of the reasons we see these fake follower numbers. The other one is like straight up bots is straight up like nefarious hackery bot stuff. And so we all want to stay clear of that, right? I am a big, big, big fan of quality over quantity. And you’ve probably heard me say that phrase if you’ve listened to more than two episodes of this show 16 times, and you’re probably going to hear it like eight times today because that quality is what generates results.

It’s funny because I was talking to somebody about recording this episode and they were like, “well, followers are followers. I want to hit 10,000”. And I’m like, cool, why? Well, because then I’ll be able to do blah, blah blah. And I see all these people knew that 10,000 followers and they’re running, you know, they put something out and it gets a thousand comments and they’re, they’re selling stuff on Instagram. So here’s the deal. I have I think 1600 followers right now. And I’m also selling things on Instagram. I’m generating revenue in my business on Instagram because for the most part, I won’t say that, you know, it’s 100%, but the people who see my stuff on Instagram care, they’re real people and they’ve opted to see my stuff and they want to see my stuff and I go in, they do stuff with my stuff.

I want you to look at why you want followers. If it’s to generate revenue in your business than having these fake accounts is actually detrimental. Because here’s the real talk. When we run ads that are lookalikes to our Facebook fans or our Instagram followers, or when we run ads to people who are already connected with us on Facebook or Instagram, we’re paying to find more people like the people we have. That’s only helpful if those people are, our people are the people who are going to open their wallet, pull out their credit card and invest. We’re paying to get in front of the people who already like us, which again is only valuable if these people are going to open their wallets, pull out their credit cards and invest, and so I really encourage you to take a beat and look at why do you want followers? Because when you want followers for the vanity metrics of it all, which I get, I totally get, you’re not going to be setting yourself up for the same kind of results as if you want followers who are going to engage and take action.

It’s going to be really, really frustrating when you hit 10,000, 15,0000, 20,000, or 50,000 and you have no revenue to show for it, but you’ve got those follower numbers. Well, last I checked my electric company and my mortgage company, they did not accept Instagram followers. There was actually a story a couple of weeks ago making the rounds on social and on the news and all of that, about an influencer who had like a million followers, something like that, couldn’t sell one $30 tee shirt, not one. And that’s a lot of what we’re seeing with these massive followings. They do not equal money in the bank. They do not equal a customer list. They do not equal an email list. So this is why we pay attention to this. This is why we care so much about quality over quantity.

Let’s talk about how to identify and really nurture real followers and how do we identify and what do we do with fake followers. And let’s, let’s talk about the and of all this. Let’s talk about the middle. Let’s talk about those people who are probably real people. You’re not necessarily following us for real reasons. How do we identify that and what do we do with them?

Let’s start with real live followers.

Generally speaking, when we’re looking at a real account, and I’m, I’m literally opening my Instagram right now. So that I can sort of look at who’s followed me recently. The first thing I look at is always, always, always going to be the profile photo, the handle, and the name, because it’s generally an early, early giveaway. So one of the things I’m looking at is, is it like a legit, like does it make sense or is it like a bunch of letters followed by numbers because that’s just a surefire and spam. This one is 100% a real name. The profile photo is of a human. This is a personal brand. Um, and the bio even is very much so legit. Also, she’s followed by other people who follow me, always a good sign.

So very, she also links to another account of hers, which is very cool. So this looks like this is her business account. The other one is her personal account. Very cool. I love that. So this is really easy right away to see that it’s a real account. The other thing I’m looking for though is what are the intentions of this account? And this is something we’re going to talk about more in a few minutes, but there is a red flag here for me as far as intentions, even though I, I do believe this is the legit account cause some of this is going to be instincts. This person follows about a thousand people more than follow her and she has less than a thousand people following her. So she’s at 954 followers but she’s following 1,952 people. This for me is a red flag because it can indicate that you are following people just so that they’ll follow you back to force follower growth, which is a really good strategy.

It’s one of the things we use to grow followers is go and follow accounts of ideal clients. Now one of the red flags for me is there’s a huge difference in these two numbers. When you are utilizing a strategy like this to grow your followers, you want to be looking at following 10 to 20 people per week. Now for one, Instagram actually puts a limit on this before they start tracking your account as potentially spam. So to be following hundreds of people per month can be detrimental to your algorithm positioning and even to like the overall value of your account, so you want to make sure that when you’re doing this, you’re doing this a little at a time consistently versus doing this and huge shots like once a month. So this is actually a task I go through and do like we’ll go through and follow for accounts we are aggressively growing, we’ll go to like five or 10 a day. So that we’re not looking like we’ve got 30 or 40 new people we’re following every single day. This does mean it takes time. Um, but you’re also looking again at that quality and the overall health of your account.

So from there I’m looking at content and the content is good, the content is solid, it’s consistently branded, it’s engaged with, and so very clearly we’re looking at a real account. The other red flag here is she followed me a couple of days ago and I haven’t gotten any engagement yet. So one thing to look at is when you’re doing this, the strategy that she’s very clearly using, which is to follow people and get get herself in front, which again is not a schemey thing. It’s not a skeezy thing. It’s a really smart thing to do for growing your overall Instagram account because you’re basically being like, hey, I’m here, you want to hang out? Like you’re just kind of waving your hand in front of them. Right? But I’m not going to need, I’ve not gotten an engagement. So this is one of the other reasons I like to do this on a small scale consistently, is we have the ability to go in and engage.

Now, here’s where I want you to separate yourself from the pack of people who are also utilizing the strategy. By engage, I don’t mean follow me like four of my posts and never engage with me again because that’s one thing we’re seeing a lot of. What I want you to do is I want you to go in, leave a comment, a real, valuable content comment, and then do it again and do it again and do it again. Not all in one day, but over the course of a week or so.

Now here’s where I do utilize the unfollow technique because there is some skeezy of following and unfollowing. I follow you for three days and then I unfollow you hoping that you followed me in that window and that I’m good because I can keep my follower count low. Then if I’ve engaged with a post or our team is engaged with a post three or four times and it’s radio silence, no follow back, no engagement back where we’re going to unfollow because we’re clearly not nurturing a relationship, we’re just contributing to your growth. That’s not helpful for me. So that’s something to consider and obviously you’re not an ideal client because you have no interest in seeing my stuff or you know, talking to me and that’s a critical part of my ideal client avatar is an interest in talking to me. So real one for sure. This one, absolutely aces on being real. A couple of things I would tweak here from a growth strategy standpoint, but overall, absolutely a real account.

Now the fake one is equally as easy to see, and I have one right at the top.

We’ve got a name and a bio picture and a handle match, but they’re all in a very weird order. And the profile photo and the only one photo on the account are from the same event. There’s essentially the same photo, big red flag. The entirety of the bio is construction and two emojis, not super useful. Also, there’s one post 4 followers, but they’re following 128 people.

Pretty, pretty easy to identify spam. So not only will I not follow, but I’m going to go as far as to hit the three dots up in the top right corner and hit block. Now that’s going to remove them from my follower count, but it’s also going to mean that they’re not polluting the pool. When I go to use my audience as an ad point or an when I try to get people to engage, when I’m looking at the overall health of my followers, it’s not going to muddy the waters.

So now let’s go to what I think is the most important segment of this conversation, which is those people who are a little bit borderline and I’ve got a perfect one.

Again, solid name, photo, headline, bio, all of that’s on point. This is very clearly a real account. However, there are nine photos perfectly branded, but nine photos, there’s almost no engagement. There’s 307 followers, but this person is following 2,333 people probably because it looks like she’s trying to convert people into an offer that’s coming soon. This is a really good example of somebody who’s probably a real person, but there’s not going to be any value for me coming. This is very, very clearly somebody who’s trying to upfront a ton of growth so that they can launch something really, really quickly.

In this case, I do not follow back. This person’s never engaged with me. I don’t know who this person is. We have some people in common. I can tell by the engagement that she does have, that she’s got sort of spraying and everybody trying to get followers. I can tell by who she’s following. She’s really just trying to follow everybody. But I wouldn’t follow back.

I also wouldn’t block because there is a potential for me to come in, engage a little bit and separate myself from the pack in her audience in which I could help her with doing what she’s trying to do. That’s not something I would recommend to you, but I do this for a living and so it makes sense for me and that’s something I want you to look at as you’re utilizing this. If you see somebody who’s doing some of this stuff and they sit in this borderline pile, but you also see that they’re potentially an ideal client of yours, it might be worth following and engaging. It might be worth seeing if you can shake out the humanity in that situation. Because I am a big believer that generally speaking, these people are not up to nefarious things. These people are not trying to like screw with anybody up here. They’ve probably somewhere along the way gotten bad advice. I’m sympathetic to that because my, a lot of my clients,at some point gotten bad advice, um, at some point I’ve gotten bad advice, right? We’ve all sort of been there.

I also respect the hustle. I respect the fact that this person is trying to do something cool. And so that’s something that you’re going to have to decide for yourself as you see those come through that are in this borderline place that are very clearly following you. Not because they were more interested in your stuff, but you can see work. Hmm. You know what? This might be an ideal client. This might be somebody I can help out. This might be somebody who wants to work me, then it might be worth it. Otherwise I just leave them. I don’t block them. They can continue to follow me if they want, but I don’t follow back. And again, this is a choice you’re going to need to make. And where I’m seeing that is again, the small amount of posts, the massive amount of people they’re following with a not in alignment amount of followers. Meaning there’s a huge discrepancy.

Now if your following a thousand people but you’re followed by 10,000 people, I don’t care that you’re following a thousand people. However, if you’re following a thousand people and you’re only followed by 300 people, that’s the problem for me. That’s a red flag that again, you’re, you’re going after followers for the sake of growth. Also, there’s only nine posts here and the last one was six days ago as was the first one.

That’s it. So that’s not hugely beneficial to me as a part of your potential community. So I want you to look at where are you seeing those accounts and how are they going to be helpful for you because that’s going to be the most valuable next step for you in those borderline accounts.

Join us for Backstage Live

If you want to be making sure that you are consistently attracting real quality followers, a strategy is necessary for that. So I want to remind you that spots are open now for our September Backstage Live event. Here’s the shift that’s happened though. We’ve taken this event from here in Southern California to virtual, meaning you will be able to join us for our September event from absolutely anywhere. We’ll be running from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Pacific time and we will be sending out very cool little gift boxes to everybody who joins us, what their worksheets.

We’re testing a few very cool new things, with this September event, which is one of the reasons we took it virtual. So I’m really, really excited and I would love to have you join us. The early bird pricing is open right now, so you can join us right now through August 15th and Save, you can join us for $597 after you join before the 15th of August. So go reserve your seat. Join us. I’m really, really excited. There are two options to pay for pay in full or payment plan. If you join the pay in full, you’re also gonna get a bonus 30 minute call with me. You can use that call before or after. Um, this is a great way to take advantage of joining us really early, getting your seat reserved, having a call with me, prepping you for that call. And then we have our full day in person.

It’s a really cool way to utilize it. Um, we’ve had a couple people who have opted to use their calls beforehand, and they’ve gotten really good results going into the day and come out of the day feeling a little less overwhelmed cause we do go through a lot in that day. All right, so that’s it for me. Thank you for joining me. If you have any questions at any time, head over to Instagram, send me a DM, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode and real followers versus fake followers and growing your following because I think it’s an important conversation for us to be having in the guys in the, in the, the avenue of quality over quantity. I had to get one more in. All right, I’ll see you next week. Bye.

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