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5 tell-tale signs that an Instagram user is buying likes and followers

Meg Caswell
Marketing Coordinator

In the world of digital media, not everything is always as it seems. Have you ever browsed through Instagram and wondered how some account users have such a big following? Whilst many popular accounts will have found a niche that draws in authentic interest, here’s five ways to tell if an Instagrammer is buying non-organic likes and followers. 

1. Sharp rises in followers

You can find out if an Instagrammer is buying their followers by tracking how an account’s following increases over time. If an account is showing a sharp increase in follower growth followed by a subsequent drop in figures, they are likely to be buying their followers. Some accounts will, however, experience increased likes and follows if they’ve been featured on Instagram’s popular page. 

2. Unexplainable increases in likes 

Some services will allow Instagram users to buy a certain number of likes for a set price. If an Instagram post is gaining little attention, but then reels in hundreds of likes within a matter of minutes, this is a pretty sure sign that an account holder is using a service to increase reactions to their post.

3. Low engagement rate

Instagram account holders who buy their followers will often have a low engagement rate (number of likes and comments combined, divided by number of followers). Engagement rates should generally sit between 3-10%, depending on the amount of followers. If an account has below 2 % engagement rate (that’s to say they have thousands of followers, but practically no likes and comments), this could suggest that they are buying their followers.

4. High comment to like ratios 

An account will generally receive 2-3% of comments to likes (so 2 comments to 100 likes). You can usually tell if comments are authentic by looking at the blend of users commenting; an organic account will have a mixture of comments from influencer accounts and general Instagram users. However, some account holders will abuse tools such as comment pods (designed to create networks amongst Instagrammers with similar interests) in order to increase engagement with their posts. If someone is using comment pods to gain non-organic comments, you will often see a keyword appearing repeatedly (e.g. health) in the handles of those commenting.

5. Obvious bot accounts

You can tell if someone is buying likes and follows by checking out their followers. If a follower’s account contains spam images or a suspicious handle, it’s probably a bot account, meaning their likes and follows are bought. These accounts often contain few photos and next to no engagement. The photos featured on bot accounts might also be irrelevant to the photos that said account is liking. 

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