How to tell if their social media followers are FAKE!

salt and sugar
Even sugar can look like salt. How to tell if an account has fake social media followers.

Don’t get dupped by Fake Followers

This article is going to anger some people in the social media space but I think you have a right to know truth from a social media expert. My job day in and out as a social media coach at is to teach people the correct way to use social media for their business. I come across people who are impatient and want to cheat the social media system. I whole heartily disagree with this method. These are people that I either end up educating into authenticity or ones that I turn away because they think their followers won’t figure it out. Like any relationship social media is one you are developing between you / your brand and your following. It should go without saying but you do not want to start this relationship with dishonesty! Truth always comes out, eventually.

Keep in mind social media is like a marathon not a sprint. Those who are confident in what they have to offer should be patient in growing an authentic and organic following. When evaluating socials for authenticity keep in mind that things aren’t always as they appear. My motto is this: Even salt can look like sugar!!!! Some aren’t as sweet as they seem.

Have you ever gone onto a certain social media page and thought why do they have so many followers or likes when their content is horrible? You aren’t the only one. There are a lot of red flags that can tell you if an account is legit or just plain bull s_it! Some times it isn’t always clear as day but here are a few key indicators that could help you determine if an account might be shady AF.

Follower count

If the follower count is extremely high, but they have very few posts. This isn’t a hole in one kind of slam dunk. There are some legit reasons this may also happen. As a social media expert I have helped convert people’s personal socials into business accounts. I also offer social media clean-ups. Cleanups and conversions are legit reasons that require some deleted posts to help get socials more relevant to the demographic they are trying to serve. The rule of thumb as it pertains to follower count with very few posts is to watch, pay attention and be cautious. Look for other potential red flags. Socials under 1k that have been around for a while (1 year plus) but have few posts are frequently legit just not very active. Their numbers could be due to interaction on other accounts or a high following they have brought over from another social media platform.

New social media accounts

If the account is new or newer but you don’t see where it might have gone viral. If there is nothing that would make them gain momentum so fast, you’ll want to check your skirt, someone might be blowing smoke up it. While there are occasions where a newer account goes viral or jumps to popular quickly it would likely be one that has been strategized by a professional with a content creation team behind it. For a regular person this is a rare occurrence. So if the account doesn’t appear to have been professionally crafted, look for previous viral content. Track back to make sure the numbers jump up from that place in time, if there is nothing it might be fishy.


Look at the three most recent posts on the account. Do they have any engagement? Engagement comes in three forms, likes, shares and comments. If there is engagement see if anyone commented? Do comments make sense. If comments don’t make sense they could be the result of bots cheating the system. When a comment ratio is under 1% of the follower count something is wrong. As a rule of thumb, collective engagement as a whole should fall somewhere between the 5-10% range for legit accounts. Sometimes posts may not get attention or interaction for legit reasons. A recent algorithm change, unattractive photo or post wording that isn’t on point but if they have a whole feed of failed posts again something is wrong.


Hey content is king but what if everything the account is shelling out is more like a festival of fools? Is content poorly crafted, spammy or have terrible graphics etc.? If it doesn’t make logical sense for people to be engaged with the content, investigate some more. Take a look closer, dive deeper, see if wool is being pulled over your eyes.


Accounts that are being used for business purposes should have a clear niche (like Petrelli Reviews Facebook account here). You should know what they represent, what they offer and showcase content that is relevant to that niche. Their followers should make sense for their niche. As an example if the account is a USA tampon company and all the followers are men from India etc. start being suspicious of what is really going on behind the scenes with that account. Accounts that have bought followers won’t correlate to what the account is about or offering. There are times when this rule may not apply. For instance, a bikini company that has a large male following. The account may intend to attract women buyers but it may accidentally collect lots of male followers who are just there looking at pretty women with no intention to buy product. Think about the account and if there are a large number of strange followers that are not their target market maybe there’s some other logical reason they may be following that social.

Milestones Posts

Videos or photos that announce or say thanks for certain follower counts when the post has little to no likes or engagement after being posted for a few days or more. Take special notice if the platform they are posting on has certain perks for that specific exact follower count. A 10k following unlocks a swipe up feature on Instagram. So if there’s little or no engagement on that post plus the account’s follower number over the next few months hoovers around that same number without growth of the previous rate this could be a blazing hot indicator that BS is in effect.


These should be in direct relation to the content being offered but with so many bad accounts having cheated the system by buying them, like numbers are now just a vanity metric. No longer indicative of much value. I believe this type of behavior by bad accounts will ultimately result in most if not all social media platforms eventually removing like visibility entirely. I once saw a competitor of mine who had grown a Facebook page to a million followers quickly and was charging 20k to build similar communities for other business people. The posts on her account were getting fewer likes than some of my clients accounts that had only a few thousand followers. I started asking this competitor tough questions and it made her uncomfortable. It was very clear to me her account was a smoke and mirror illusion. Sadly, the average business person or consumer on social media doesn’t know the difference. This article and it’s tips can help sort the trash from treasure.

Social Media Cleanup

In some instances accounts have been badly managed by people who were hired to deliver results. I have seen Facebook ad’s and social media managers buying likes to give the impression that they are delivering results to their client. This always catches up to them eventually. If you are hiring someone pay attention to your account during its growth and make sure it isn’t being built on BS behind your back.

I hope this article has helped you become more savvy when it comes to social media. If you are looking to do business with a company and aren’t sure if you can trust their social stats use the information I gave you and see how many red flags show up. I’m also available for hourly consulting help if you have questions.

If you or someone you hired made mistakes to one of your accounts by doing things the wrong way fear not I also offer social media clean-ups. Click here if your interested in learning more. I have helped countless business’ get their social media tight and right.