Fake followers: an influencer marketer’s greatest fear. You may find influencers that on the surface level look perfect for your campaign, only to discover their audience is full of soulless bots that have 0 interest in your brand or its products.

Thankfully, there are ways to spot fake influencers. With Heepsy for example, you can analyze an influencer’s audience authenticity. We use AI to estimate the probability that the influencer has fake followers or uses other bots that engage with their content. What you see is a suggestion of the percentage of followers that look suspicious.

A screenshot of an authenticity analysis on Heepsy.
An example of an audience authenticity analysis as seen on Heepsy.

To get a better sense of audience authenticity averages, we analyzed the percentages of fake followers found among the audiences of the different influencer tiers on Instagram.

Nano and micro influencers have the overall most authentic audiences with the fewest fake followers

For the last few years, marketers have been praising nano influencers (1-5K followers) and micro influencers (5-50K followers) for their down-to-earth authenticity and high engagement rates.

Our analysis backs up those claims: 47% of nano influencers and 42.7% of micro influencers have fewer than 10% potentially fake followers, meaning around 90% or more of their audience looks authentic.

A chart showing the portions of micro influencers that fall into various authenticity segments.
Heepsy analysis of audience authenticity segments for Instagram micro influencers, who have between 5-50K followers.

Compare this with mega influencers, for example. Only 22.1% of them have fewer than 10% of suspicious followers, which brings us to the next point.

77.9% of mega influencers have more than 10% fake followers

Mega influencers have 1M or more followers on Instagram. 47.6% of them have 10-20% of potentially fake followers, and 30.4% of them have 20%+ potentially fake followers.

A chart showing the percentages of mega influencers that fall into certain authenticity segments.
Less than a quarter of mega influencers have an audience that is 90% authentic or more.

These authenticity segments take on new meaning when you think about them more concretely. Imagine 10 influencers, each with 1M followers. According to the above chart, only 2 of those influencers would have 900K or more real followers. The rest would have 100K or more fake followers. That’s a lot of bots, and could be a lot of money wasted by your brand if you collaborate with influencers like this.

Authenticity segments can help you see where your influencer stacks up

If you’re analyzing audience authenticity, you might be wondering how the influencer you’re evaluating compares to their peers. Is 5% suspicious followers normal? Should you be worried if they have 15% or more?

Comparing specific influencers to where a majority of their peers fall with respect to audience authenticity could give you a sense of how well the individual is doing on cultivating real followers.

A chart showing the full analysis of audience authenticity and fake followers.

This chart shows us how each influencer tier stacks up when compared to the others. We can see when it comes to nano and micro influencers, the majorities have 90% or more authentic followers. With medium influencers, the authenticity segments begin to even out. And once we get to macro and mega influencers, there are fewer influencers with over 90% authentic followers, and more with under 80%.

Final words

This is one way to approach audience authenticity, but another way to look at it could be through the angle of influencer category or location. There may be certain countries more prone to fake followers than others, or perhaps influencers from some categories are more tempted to buy bot followers.

A screenshot showing where to find the Heepsy authenticity filter.

But whatever the case, this analysis of suspicious followers shows us that it’s critical to look at authenticity before choosing influencers to collaborate with. Vet this stat beforehand, so you find out too late that you’re campaigning to bots. If you’re using the Heepsy Gold Plan, you can use the authenticity filter to prioritize authentic followers from the start.