Fake followers, bought followers and bought likes as interactions have unfortunately been part of the social media world like emails and photos for some months and years now. After many have asked me why I will conduct fewer workshops for bloggers in the future and will also advertise fewer blogger trips in the future, I would like to explain the topic simply once. How do you buy followers, how do you get more likes, are there automatic likes robots and can you see and recognize these fake followers, bought followers and bought likes? Where do you buy followers, can anyone detect it and how they engagement rates?
Fake followers, bought followers and automatic likes, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.
I’ve been thinking for a long time whether I’ll take up the topic of fake followers once on my blog or just accept it for me that it exists in my world. But the more collaborations you’ve organized for bloggers, the more PR agencies and big brands you’ve given talks to about blogger relations, and once you’ve looked at the genesis, the more the anger about fake followers rises up inside. A few months ago, a blogger from Munich has already once aptly formulated “100k is the new 10k”.
100,000 followers are the new 10,000 followers
If you look at the bloggers who have often been writing their blog since 2008, 2009 or 2010, usually as a hobby at first and in some cases now professionally, the followers have slowly increased, the interactions and comments have increased and you can already read in the comments that there is a relationship between “blogger” and “follower”.
The Instagram profiles were also started accordingly in 2011, 2012 or 2013, many photos are in the stream – possibly the “youth sins” were also deleted once at once and 400 photos were removed, because Instagram has also become more professional for bloggers and the Instagram stream should get a more consistent picture language. But you can still see from the first photos – “uploaded 3 years ago, etc.”
Fake followers as a push for influencers
However, if you started relatively young with the blog, opened an Instagram channel and then all of a sudden there are 5,000 or 10,000 followers in a few weeks and there are only 40 to 100 likes and zero to five comments with only “Beautiful”, one becomes suspicious at first whether here is not directly working with fake followers. In the meantime, word has gotten around that you can quickly get a certain visibility as an influencer with fake followers.
It seems simply too tempting for the new would-be-pleaser influencer how quickly, easily and cheaply you can get fake followers. There is a wide selection of Fake Follower packages available on the web and delivery is often fast. The fact that it might sometimes be too fast and too many fake followers in one fell swoop is something that few people think about. The thought is often: better a fake follower than no follower. Fake followers are really useless and absolutely not up to date, because fake followers are ghost followers, through which the visibility of their own images decreases. Of course, there is no interaction on the own pictures through the purchased fake followers. For this, you have to buy like packages in addition to the fake followers.
However, the principle with fake followers has really helped some influencers. So you became famous faster at that time, where no one knew exactly that fake followers are. Those who could afford fake followers financially were still at an advantage back then. Today, the fake follower game looks different.
It is of course annoying, both for agencies, brands, but also other bloggers, when bloggers are invited, for example, to sporting events, where 80-90% of 15,000 followers are at least bought. For the customer, the expectations of the cooperation have been disappointed and for other bloggers this often means – “We do not work with bloggers or Instagrammers, nothing comes of it…”. Logical, if 90% of the followers come from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran or Iraq and do not exist in real terms.
Fortunately, more and more companies and PR agencies no longer only look at the number of followers when it comes to collaborations, but above all at the engagement rate. I’d rather take a blogger on an expensive trip who may only have 2,000 real followers, but gets 200-400 likes per picture, has 30 comments underneath that also deal with the person.
Bought followers and automatic likes – how to recognize fake followers, bought likes, automatic like robots.
There are various very good paid analysis programs for fake followers, which can also permanently track accounts, log daily follower increases and losses and exactly also displays how many people you follow yourself, how many pictures are uploaded and of course again how many pictures have been deleted.
In addition, there are then various tracking options that determine the average engagement factor per image, the average likes per image and likewise the average number of comments, but of course also display the best and worst images per Instagrammer. If desired, you can then receive an alert via email if an Instagrammer has an image that is doing particularly well or is significantly below average. Likewise, there is an estimate of what an image should “cost” on Instagram – or what you should pay in comparison as a company just for the image.
What is striking, of course, and for which you don’t need an analysis tool at all, is the logical understanding. If you have “10,000 followers”, but only 50 people like a picture, there are zero or one comment to it (mostly a heart from a private account), it seems at least a little “funny” and you can assume that here fake followers follow the channel.
The same situation arises, of course, if the image gets 500, 1,000 or 2,000 likes within a few minutes after uploading and only one to ten percent more likes after 24 hours. If, regardless of the time of day, 95% of the Likes are always on the picture within a few minutes, but no one is there afterwards – it’s quite noticeable, isn’t it? If you have 100,000 followers, are 95,000 of them just waiting day and night for the next picture from you, only to like it within five minutes? Rather unlikely, isn’t it? Here, a Like package and probably also fake followers were bought.
You can see relatively easily with many Instagrammers, whether with purchased Likes or Fake Follower “maybe a little helped”. Most of the time, the numbers are relatively identical and the comments are relatively low. For new accounts with less than 1,000 followers, the numbers and Likes are of course often somewhat lower, the comments also mostly from the same people, but the larger the follower numbers, the greater the probability of fake followers.
Average like per picture number on Instagram 4.21% (06/2015).
Instagram once gave the average Like number of 4.21% (+/- 1%) in 2015, showing how many Likes per 100 followers were given to photos on average on Instagram. This number is certainly no longer tenable for many Instagrammers due to various changes in the stream, but is still generally between 2.5% and very good accounts at 4.5%.
So if you have 10,000 followers, many accounts range between 250 and 450 likes and are reached regularly. Common here are often 10-20 “real” comments, which of course also depends on whether you yourself are active and also comment back. The more followers you get over time, the lower the percentage of likes, however, according to experience, because the photos are no longer displayed to every follower. For me, it was relatively brutal back then when I went from 9,900 to 10,000 followers, the like numbers briefly plummeted by almost 30%, even though they were photos from the same series. Some Instagrammers also have a similar slump at 100,000 with followers, until the rate subsequently relativizes again somewhat.
Of course, there will always be a time bursts up and down and even with me there are photos that once get significantly fewer likes, others significantly more. With my account @vanessa.pur I move with the photos at the moment with approx. 3,0 – 5,0% – always something depending on the topic, outfit and time.
So if you take an account with 30,000 followers, there should always be the 750 – 1,000 likes per picture, depending on how regularly you post, how your followers are composed and also how you yourself follow and maintain your own Instagram stream.
Real followers vs. fake followers
People who spend a lot of time a day on their own subscribers, activating the photos of the people they themselves follow with likes and comments as well, will also get more reaction to their own photos. However, when you follow 2,000 or 3,000 people, it becomes hard to like or comment on every picture and you don’t even stand out as actively yourself anymore.
People look up who commented on my picture or who “liked” my picture much more often than many users think. I also look at the comments and people who have commented on a picture much more often than if you just follow me. If I then also like the picture, I put a “like” or leave a “comment”, regardless of whether I am a follower of the Instagrammer or not.
So you can get a relatively good first impression of whether the account has very active or rather very passive followers. If the value is far below the average values of Instagram, but the number of followers is relatively high, then you naturally take a closer look at expensive collaborations and especially travel.
The following graphic illustrates in a simple and quick way with some tracking tools, which many agencies also use, at least “spontaneous” increases in followers. The causes can be of very different origin for bloggers and do not always have to be directly related to fake followers and purchased followers.
Causes for follower growth without fake followers
Is the blogger e.g. in a large newspaper with his channel featured or was e.g. at Shopping Queen or other shows on TV rises the channel usually very quickly (and also well over 1,000 followers), but this increase is rarely in just one day, the pictures on the day usually have a very high number of comments and likes and usually there is also already a reference to the show such as “I just saw you on Shopping Queen, you were so great”, etc. and it usually explains itself. Alternatively, many bloggers of itself then also already explain the growth.
Are there, however, jumps and often also a simultaneous loss of some followers, so of course you become a little more cautious. Often it is of course “secret groups”, “a new visual language” or I have been “featured, but do not want to say where” given as an explanation. It’s funny to say the least, because when I’ve been mentioned, I’m actually proud that my “work” has such an appeal outside of my own community.
If you then look at the channel the next few days or as in the second chart above, where staircase-shaped every Sunday an increase of about 1,000 followers, then in the week again 100 are lost, so you quickly notice whether a change has occurred or whether one of the countless offers for “cheap followers” was chosen.
Another example with some Instagrammers – albeit a little more cleverly employed – is the relatively rapid growth of followers to 60,000 to 80,000 followers over six to 12 weeks, once one has joined a blogger community and is being looked after. It gives the impression – our bloggers all have Instagram accounts with at least 60,000 followers. The only problem, of course, is when the likes per picture remain at 300 or 400 likes. This is another reason why many companies are increasingly paying attention to the engagement rate, which should be used as a second value for calculation.
Fake followers and automatic likes – Suggested Instagram account.
An exception to the increases and, as already mentioned above, also understandable is when the account is classified by Instagram as “Suggested / Recommended”. Instagram then considers this account to be particularly interesting at times and recommends ten accounts to every new Instagram follower that one should definitely follow. As shown on the left, you receive an email or message from Instagram and are informed about your place on the list.
You then receive daily follower growth of 500 to 1,500 followers per day over a period of seven to usually 14 days. What initially looks like a strong increase, of course, also has two disadvantages:
People follow the account who are not at all interested in the account and the imagery, but only follow because Instagram recommended it. In the future, people do follow the account, but pay relatively little attention to the images. The follower/likes ratio drops quickly and more extremely. “Ghost followers” are often created, who perhaps also just wanted to try out Instagram once and then don’t enjoy the APP after all.
Each new spam account also follows the Suggested accounts and thus one gets relatively many spam comments “Get free followers”, etc. and must constantly clean up his account. In addition, these accounts are subsequently deleted by Instagram again piece by piece and you lose relatively many followers a day again. It’s a bit frustrating when you keep losing followers who were inactive or didn’t want to follow the account at all, despite good pictures.
The fame that comes from these actions is of course nice, but there is also the situation that it often affect the engagement rate. In order for an account to be classified as “Suggested” by Instagram, the imagery should be consistent and post regularly.
Here, lifestyle accounts and travel images are chosen more often than a pure fashion blogger account. My account @vanessa.pur has already been classified as “Suggested” twice by Instagram, once for my photos of Sylt, once for the brighter pictures. It is always very different what is just selected and what success you have afterwards.
Instagram Likes and Followers with YouTubers – Fake Followers
The well-known engagement rates of 2.5% to 4.5% are a whole different world with many YouTubers who also have an account on Instagram at the same time. Here, the accounts are often between 100,000 and 500,000 subscribers, but the Like numbers range from 5-15% and are completely realistic.
As was also mentioned in my talks that YouTube is also becoming increasingly important for bloggers – so exactly two suitable target groups meet here, which also have influence themselves also still active influence on the Twitter channels. Well-known YouTubers have Twitter channels with 500k and more followers, every new message triggers a new Twitter trend. This community is hyperactive and also confirms the high Like numbers.
If you look at the well-known Instagram accounts of YouTubers like DFashion, Xlaeta, Melina, Bigi, Daggi etc., the reach is all in the 100,000 or 1,000,000 range and the Like numbers are corresponding, often above 10%. For brands that want to address exactly the young target group between 13-20 years, a perfect advertising partner. What the “it girls” present is bought. For a cooperation in the premium segment for an expensive sports car, a luxurious hotel suite, etc. is of course less interesting, because the buyer class, often does not correspond to the follower class. However, the follower groups are usually genuine and authentic, unlike some of the bloggers mentioned above – although currently less suitable for the luxury or premium segment.
Facebook likes and engagement rates among bloggers
In addition to the most important network for bloggers, “Instagram,” Facebook is also still very important and is used for collaborations. Even if the target group of Facebook followers has already changed, younger people often choose Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram, there is still a value placed on Facebook. Especially for travel collaborations or for Fashionweek, many companies still look at the number of followers.
The easiest way for bloggers themselves to look a little over their own Facebook page is simply to set it in the “Facebook Page Settings”. There you can note under the menu item “Statistics” the values of your own pages, but in the lower menu item also add more pages and recognize there among other things
Growth of the Facebook page in percent (compared to the previous week)
Posts in the last week
Interactions in the last week
If you now see a page that has over 60,000 followers, has posted 10 posts and has only addressed 200 people – it seems “a bit sad” at least for the blogger.
If the same page has then also received a growth of 3% in the week, it becomes at least “a little funny” 🙂 … if 1,800 new followers or fake followers are “interested” in the blogger in the last week, but you see the posts of the last week only by 200 people – how can that work?
When I follow a page on Facebook, of course I see the posts and don’t just follow a list of the top 100 pages to follow this week…. :-).
If you have your own Facebook page, you can simply add the pages of other bloggers (but also companies) in the list and watch the growth, but also the number of posts and interactions. Quite interesting are of course also the tools that you can use professionally and with which I compile, for example, also for many companies the composition and interaction rates of bloggers for companies.
Below are some examples of bloggers who were examined more closely for projects in the period from August to October. Interestingly, the followers or fake followers for these bloggers have more than doubled in the last six months, 30,000 became over 60,000 followers, 40,000 became over 90,000 followers and the other accounts are over one million followers.
For three out of four of the Facebook channels, it’s a real shame, because even without the purchased fake followers and likes, the reach would still have been very good and, above all, the engagement of readers would have been right. Now there are situations where one photo attracts 0.05%, another image 1.5% of followers. How should a company be able to calculate with that?
Is it really all about the number – indicating how valuable you are as a blogger? Does a blogger with 1,000,000 purchased fake followers do a better job than a blogger with 10,000 or 30,000 real followers?
Already at the last ITB travel fair in Berlin it was again very clear how the numbers are “manipulated” by fake followers to get a trip with it. Fortunately, in the travel industry, many companies have already become a little better or are advised accordingly and prefer to choose a travel blogger who may have a few followers less, but who are genuine and active.
In the last few days I received a request for a cooperation with a blogger with over 1,000,000 (!) followers on Twitter – with almost zero tweets and of course no retweets or likes. Again, as a comparison, some YouTubers on Twitter who “only” have 500,000 followers, but cause hundreds of likes and retweets. The followers may be the wrong target group for a luxury trip in that case, but for another product just this community can be perfect.
YouTube views and subscribers – for bloggers & YouTubers.
As easy as it is to track where followers are coming from on Instagram and Facebook, how the jumps in followers have happened, unfortunately it’s not quite as easy on YouTube.
Similar to Instagram, you can have a chart history drawn with the corresponding tracking tools and, of course, jumps of 1,000 purchased fake followers in one day are quickly noticed there, but you cannot determine the origin of the YouTube followers without the help of the YouTuber.
With YouTube, however, it is often enough to see when a video is posted online how many “fans” and followers are addressed in the first few days and how are the interactions.
If a popular YouTuber uploads a new video weekly with 50,000 followers and after 7 days gets just 500 views and maybe two comments, it’s already a bit “unrealistic”.
Many of the large and well-known YouTuber address in the first days, depending on the topic, already 30-50% of their followers, the comments on the video accordingly and also appropriate and related to the video or the person. However, if you are a travel blogger with a very active community in other networks, has more than 15,000 followers or probably fake followers and a video of a long-distance trip in 10 days does not even get 300 retrievals, it is at least “conspicuous” and you should not consider the channel quite strongly as a company.
Of course, you can also analyze progressions, follower numbers and views over longer periods of time, but what is always a help is the “channel information on YouTube”. When did the YouTuber start on YouTube, when was the account created and how many video views are there so far.
If you then look in the “Videos” column to see when the videos were uploaded, you at least get a good average of how active the channel is and how many views have been generated per month.
Buy Fake Followers and Likes on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube – CONCLUSION
There are so many examples of fake followers that have subsequently attracted attention, and it is no use on Instagram to simply change the username. The history continues to be taken. Even as a fashion blogger with over 60,000 followers, it is already “surprising” if she gets 1,000 likes, but also only one comment. Of course, no Calvin Klein bra or the sweetest smile is of any use if the engagement rate simply hasn’t grown with it (and the other networks have almost zero activity for a blogger).
Therefore, it is also becoming increasingly important for companies, in addition to the number of followers, especially the Likes and comments in a relationship. Is it a pure fashion Instagrammer who actively addresses an XXL community, it can be a good choice. If it is an active blogger, who on the one hand also masters good texts and photos, knows the basics of SEO and in addition has a good account on Instagram, this person can be the better choice for the cooperation, because the package is simply right.
It just always depends a lot on which target group I want to reach, if it’s about a regular picture, which should appeal to a large group in the young community, young Instagrammers and YouTubers are often a good choice, if it’s also about texts that should be permanently on the net and that appeal to a different target group, a blogger – even with a smaller real number of followers – can be the better choice.
In addition to the pure “follower count”, you should always consider the ratio of likes/comments and put it once in a ratio and see if it is close to 3.5%. Even a value of 2%-2.5% can still be interesting depending on the cooperation, but values below that, with very few comments should make you think.
In the future, I will also present these examples and tools again in detail at the presentations and agencies that already work with me and am happy about every blogger, Instagrammer and YouTuber who has a great fan base and also still follows the motto “Better 10,000 real active followers, than 100,000 purchased followers”…