7 Ways To Distinguish Fake vs. Real Instagram Influencer


Ivan Temelkov

04/28/2020 · 9 min read

Everyone is an Instagram influencer these days. Even the guy who signed up for Instagram yesterday, spotted a Lambo on the parking lot, took a picture of it. and now claims to highly successful.

COVID-19 has elevated the scrutiny behind Instagram influencers. In fact, recently I interviewed someone for my podcast The RAS Project who claimed to be an Instagram influencer himself. 

What is an Instagram influencer?

How do you define whether someone is a REAL or FAKE influencer on Instagram?

The definition of an "influencer"!

An influencer, in the context of social media marketing is someone who brings forth an expert level knowledge within their respective field or developed social influence in their field.

I don’t know about you but in reality everyone can be classified as an entrepreneur these days. “Expert level knowledge” is probably the key takeway from this definition. However, a lot of people in the social media space like to label themselves as an “influencer” because it can be extremely easy to mislead those less educated. 

I know what you’re thinking right about now. “Where are you going with this Ivan?

Hear me out and you’ll see. Patience is a virtue my friends.

By the way, for the record, according to Instagram, I joined the platform on May 6, 2011 at 4:01pm.

Does that make me an influencer?

Real vs Fake instagram influencer?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the marketing space for 26 years now and it’s aggravating the crap out of me. Perhaps it’s because I’m capable of smelling out fake Instagram influencers a mile away because of all the interactions and experiences I’ve seen thus far. 

These days it’s actually quite easy to extract a real vs fake influencers on Instagram. Although there is still a lot of people out there who simply don’t know how to identify real vs. fake influencers.

This post is for you or those of you who are generally misinformed about who is classified as a real vs. fake Instagram influencer.

#1. Verified vs. Not-Verified

A blue checkmark will appear next to a person’s name on Instagram who has been “verified” by the platform. Such authentication is usually reserved for public figures, celebrities, global brands or entity that it represents.

A few actual examples of people who would carry a blue checkmark next to their name would include the president, Pepsi, The Rock. These are individuals and brands that have massive influence upon the world and society in a way that it creates an impact. It’s also one of the main reasons why the blue checkmark verification was created.

Now, there are a lot of people on Instagram these days who claim to be “influencers”. These folks do not carry the blue checkmark yet claim to be massive influencers on the world and society. Some of these people are indeed influencers who are contributing to the positive impact in the world. 

However, I’ve found that a vast majority or people who do not carry a blue checkmark on Instagram are in fact full of sh*t. The way they project themselves on Instagram is intended to mislead many people into thinking that they are influential and in most cases steal people’s money, identity, or rob them of their dignity. 

Be careful when conversing with people on Instagram who claim to be influencers but yet do not carry the blue checkmark. 

#2. difference between followers and following.

I am baffled at the fact that many people on Instagram are still misled into thinking that if someone has many followers that they are influential. This is an extremely passive vanity metric that can not longer be taken seriously. So many Instagram  users have abused this to a great extent.

Another thing to watch out for when aiming to identify a real vs fake Instagram influencer is the # of followers vs # of people they are following.

Here’s what I mean.

A lot of so-called Instagram influencers will purchase followers (many empty accounts or inactive ones for that matter) in effort to facilitate a perception of authority. The more followers you have, the higher your influence.

Well, that’s complete bullsh*t.

In addition to facilitating many followers, many so-called “influencers” will choose to follow as few amount of people as possible. That way the ratio between followers vs. following always looks ridiculously high.

A true influencer takes interest in many people. Not necessarily following an enormous crowd but nonetheless takes interest in many people.

This is yet another way to distinguish a real vs. fake influencer on Instagram.  

#3. The # of posts vs # of followers.

Building influence online takes time. Regardless of who you are. Even if you are a celebrity or the president, those may be some exceptional scenarios.

Let’s face it though. Most people on Instagram aren’t this influential. 

Another way to distinguish a real vs fake Instagram influencer is to pay attention to the # of posts vs the # of followers that they have.

Let me explain a scenario so you can better understand. 

For instance, let’s say that you have 50,000+ followers on your Instagram account and 300 posts. On my personal Instagram account of 9 years, I have 3,172 followers and 2,183 posts.

What does this mean though?

More followers and little to no content is an indication of paid followers. Either that or you have massive influence over others and able to sway an audience. This isn’t the case though because as I said above, celebrities and presidents and alike are a few of the exceptional people who are able to grow influence exponentially in a short period of time.

Be very cautious when coming across Instagram profile of so-called “influencers” who have a lot of followers but not enough content. Chances are something isn’t right there.

#4. The nature of comments and sentiment

Another way to spot a real vs. fake influencer is to pay closer attention to the comments taking place on individual posts. It’s not uncommon to have spam fly across in the comments section of individual posts within an Instagram account.

However, when the amount of spam comments on an individual post outweigh the real comments it’s a clear indication that the account itself has been compromised.

One of the biggest mistakes fake influencers make on Instagram is not realizing that if you purchase followers in effort to boost authority that your comments will end up going sideways. Once you have a lot of spam comments on your posts it is a complete nightmare to clean those up if you choose to straighten up.

This is yet another way to spot a real vs fake Instagram influencer by simply monitoring their comments on individual posts.

#5. Profile information.

Perusing the profile information of an Instagram user is another way to create a realistic perception of whether they are a real or fake influencer. 

There are a few things that I generally look for in a profile to determine whether or not this person is a real or fake influencer.

  • Overall structure, description.
  • Bitcoin, FX trader, any of that sh*t. It’s usually a huge turnoff.
  • Anyone who says they’ve been featured somewhere but when searching online there’s no factual proof of such things.
  • Referring to yourself as an “influencer” in your profile but yet the content nor accomplishments claimed do not match such statement.
  • Links to “Get-Rich-Quick” programs in a profile.

I generally use my intuition and gut as a verifier to help me determine whether or not someone is real or fake. Trust me, you’ll know the feeling once it hits you. 

#6. The amount of "Likes" on individual posts.

The amount of likes once receives on a post has become such a vanity metric yet so many people are misled into thinking that many likes is an indication of influence. The number of likes on an Instagram post does not correlate directly to the amount of influence you have over others and particularly lack of influence.

Another way to distinguish a real vs fake Instagram influencer is to monitor the likes on individual posts. 

Here’s what I mean.

  • Check the number of likes on an individual post.
  • Click on the actual like count and see who liked the post. You will notice a lot of fake accounts and if that is the case that is a clear indication that followers have been purchased.

The number of likes you receive on an Instagram post is not a direct indication of influencer or lack of. 

#7. The type of "content".

There is a lot of fluffiness on Instagram and I believe that with COVID-19 right now it’s getting worse. Another way you can determine the difference between a real and fake influencer is to pay closer attention to their overall content.

  • Too much stock imagery is pure crap.
  • Lack of expression is an indication that they’re holding something back or have nothing better to share.
  • Fabricated posts that are forceful or intended to have you buy something.

Overall, when you look at the content of a real influencer it should give off the impression that it’s useful, helpful, trendy, buzzworthy as oppose to stale, fabricated, or too much fakeness.

Be cautious out there. There is a lot of fake and real influencers on Instagram which now is in the top 3 most visited social media networks in the world. There is plenty of opportunity to build up your influence although you should always be mindful of a few simple things.

  • Share content that you have strengths in.
  • Build relationships with people instead of spamming them.
  • Do the right thing and use your head.
  • Don’t force people upon you. Let them absorb what you have to offer and have them draw their own conclusion.

Happy Influencing everyone! Did this article help you? Let me know below. 

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