Here's exactly how to tell if someone has bought their Instagram followers.

I have a friend… let’s call her Sally. Sally is your normal 23-year-old millennial girl. She Instagrams her brunch, boomerangs Saturday night drinks with the gals, enjoys posting bangin’ outfit shots and indulges in the occasional drunk Instagram Stories marathon.

Yet somehow while I’m sitting at my 400 measly Instagram followers, Sally has muscled up 25.3k in seemingly adoring fans.

To my general knowledge she does not moonlight as an Instagram celebrity, nor do her posts boast much engagement in the way of comments and likes.

And that’s because dear Sally, love her to pieces, heart on hand, has probably bought the majority of her followers, something that you, if you want, can do too. While prices do differ, you can increase your Instafan-base by 5000 followers for just $40 from websites like Social Envy, Instafypro, and Buzzoid.

However, it’s not just the friend that’s a bit over-attached to their social media that’s guilty of doing the sneaky sneak, but ‘professional influencers’ too have been caught red-handed, and these are the tell-tale signs to look out for.

How to spot fake followers
Not everything is as it seems in the world of Instagram. Image via Getty.

1. The ratio of 'followers' to 'likes.'

This is the number one tell-tale sign. If their follower count boast figures in the thousands, yet they only get a couple of dozen likes per post, you can bet that most of these are 'dead accounts,' aka profiles that were created and then swiftly abandoned.

In comparison, if you look at a true influencer's profile like Chloe Morello who has over one million followers, her posts get anywhere from 30k to 250k in likes and 200 plus comments.

That is an authentic and engaged following.

2. Have a sneak peak at their followers list...

For some next-level Sherlock Holmes action, which we all know you're capable of, tapping into the profiles of their 'followers' list will give you a good indication as to whether or not the profiles are real people or bots.

For example, do the majority of their followers have weird, gibberish or spammy names? Or do the accounts show next to no activity? We're talking no posts, no followers, but they happen to follow 10,000 people.

Cue: Warning bells.

LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss the ethics of buying Instagram followers, and whether or not you could lose your job for it. Post continues after audio.


3. Social Blade will reveal all.

For the rookie Veronica Mars, you too can get your social media sleuth on with account trackers like Social Blade. The website very clearly maps out the growth of a person's follower count. If there's been a drastic increase overnight, with no carry through, you can best bet that they've paid for a bunch of fake followers.

4. Video views never lie.

Say Sally posts a video on Instagram. If that video has more 'likes' than actual views, then you can suspect there's something fishy going on. While bought followers will sometimes like every single post an account shares, they're not going to spend the 20 seconds watching a video.

5. Read the comments.

When it comes to social media, interaction is key. If the majority of their comments are single emojis, one-word answers or messages that read more like an ad for a new watch brand, you can best bet that these accounts are bots.

Again, if you have a sneaking suspicion that someone's account is fake, you can use trick two and have a stalk of their followers, but if the comments seem like they're from fake accounts, it's probably because they are.

Now go forth and get your Sherlock Holmes on...

What do you think about people that buy their Instagram followers?

LISTEN: On the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud we discuss everything from Barnaby Joyce to space and the return of the O Bike in which Jessie Stephens finally got her rant in... It's a good one.