TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms out there and is just massively popular: you simply can’t get around it.
Just like on Instagram, there are a whole lot of people on there who seem to be a lot more popular than they actually are: they have a bunch of fake followers.
But how easy is it to spot these fake followers on TikTok, and can you do something about it? Let’s take a look.
Why do people buy fake followers on TikTok?
People buy fake followers on TikTok for the same reason people buy fake followers anywhere else: to seem a lot more popular and have a much more impressive presence on TikTok than in reality.
Additionally, you also need a minimum of a thousand followers to go live on TikTok, which is something that a lot of starting TikTokkers want to achieve as fast as possible, possibly by using fake followers as a shortcut.
Of course, buying fake followers is almost never a good idea. It’s much more worthwhile (and satisfying) to grow your TikTok account organically. It can definitely be a sign of people being insecure on TikTok as well.
If you want to have more followers, it’s always a good idea to improve the video quality of your TikToks. Or perhaps you’ve got a large following on Snapchat? Here’s how you can post your TikToks to your Snap story.
What do fake followers look like on TikTok?
We would say that it’s a little bit harder to spot fake followers on TikTok than on say, Instagram or YouTube, for example. ‘Following’ is something that’s incredibly important on Instagram and it’s very easy to check out someone’s followers and quickly see if they’re legitimate or fake. Some tips can also be applied to TikTok.
Here are five great tips you can use to spot whether or not a TikTok account has grown organically or has simply bought its followers.
1) Fake followers have weird names and no profile pictures
Bots that follow TikTok accounts usually have weird, computer-generated names or weird-sounding names that seem to come from a completely different language than your target audience. It’s not always bots that are being used, sometimes it can also be (hacked) accounts that are deployed as fake followers.
Another dead giveaway is the fact that in most cases of fake followers, no profile pictures are being used. If you’re seeing a lot of those standard template icons, chances are you’re dealing with a fake account.
In other words, give the follower list a quick glance. If you spot a lot of red flags, chances are you’re dealing with an account that has some shady followers and didn’t grow organically.
Further clicking on these followers may give you some additional insights too. Does the activity (or lack thereof) look suspicious at all?
Are those potentially fake accounts following a bunch of other accounts, have little to no followers, and don’t post any content? Those are all signs leading to a non-genuine account.
Do keep in mind, however, that the lack of profile pictures does not automatically mean you’re dealing with a fake account. A lot of people on TikTok are so-called ‘lurkers’ and never post, they only view videos. There’s not really a lot of reason to use a profile picture, in that case.
2) Strange engagement numbers on accounts
Have you spotted an account with millions of followers, but are the videos posted not really popular?
It’s possible that an account has a TikTok which has gone viral and amassed a ton of followers that way – there are a lot of ‘one-hit wonders’ on the app. The video below by @jamie32bsh is a pretty perfect example of that. Who hasn’t seen this guy showing up on For You pages?
His other videos may not be as popular, but thanks to a video that has over 50 million likes, it has certainly made him a famous TikTokker with a bunch of extra followers as well.
♬ Say It Right – Sped Up Remix – Nelly Furtado & Speed Radio
Of course, it’s not always like this. Sometimes you’ve got millions or hundreds of thousands of followers, and a very low amount of views likes, or comments on the TikTok videos. This is what we call a low engagement rate.
That’s definitely something that’s not right – if your followers aren’t engaged, chances are they aren’t real humans.
Also, keep in mind that TikTok likes can also be bought, so taking a look at the amount (and quality) of comments might be a better method to check whether an account’s engagement ratio is solid or not.
The opposite can also be true: an alarmingly high engagement rate. Just to give an example: let’s say an account has 100K followers.
If every one of their videos manages to get around 80 to 90,000 likes, that would be an absolutely incredible engagement rate. So incredibly, in fact, that it seems very hard to believe.
3) Low-quality comments by fake followers
A way to ‘trick’ the engagement ratio we’ve just described above, is to like and comment on videos. However, the quality of a comment can also be a very good judge of whether or not an account is fake.
Are the comments copy-pasted on multiple videos? Red flag.
Are the comments very short or do they seem extremely generic? Not a good sign either.
Do the TikTok comments only consist of a couple of emojis? Those certainly are a lot easier to spam as a fake account, and might not even seem suspicious at first.
4) Suspicious massive growth
Fake followers on TikTok are rarely deployed gradually – they’re usually delivered instantly, in a couple of days or in a couple of weeks, at most.
That also means that you can notice some very suspicious and sudden growth on a TikTok account.
Unless there’s a video that has gone viral, sudden massive growth is a sign of bought followers.
Followers should (mostly) follow a linear curve, like this:
Whereas with fake followers, chances are that the followers graph will start to look something akin to this:
The difference is pretty astonishing. The sudden growth of (tens of) thousands of followers can hardly be organic.
5) Fake followers are no longer active
When a fake follower has done their job and followed an account, or provided a bunch of likes or comments – chances are that these fake followers will simply disappear.
They won’t create any content, they won’t add any new comments, and seem to be pretty much dormant.
Once a fake follower has been bought – there’s not much use anymore for that account, so it’s abandoned.
Sometimes – fake or bot accounts will also post a couple of videos, just to prevent TikTok from deleting them right away.
Some bots are definitely smarter than others, but you can definitely still tell by the quality of the TikToks if they’re real or not. If you spot one of these spam videos, feel free to let TikTok review it.
6) Accounts with fake followers have a low score on audit tools
There are a lot of audit tools out there for the most popular social media apps, and the company HypeAuditor is one that provides a free (yet simple) audit for TikTok accounts.
Right away, you can see how many videos an account has posted, what the number of followers is, and the engagement rate measured in percentages.
If you get a quality score of 90 or above, you’re dealing with an account that has seen excellent organic growth. If you get a red number, however, that account simply has made use of a lot of fake or bought followers.
An orange score means you’ll have to be wary of the legitimacy of their followers – there are definitely some things that don’t add up, such as a low engagement rate.
What to do when you spot an account with fake followers
Usually, if TikTok intervenes, they will remove the accounts of fake followers – which will result in profiles having fewer followers, as well.
If you spot an account with a majority of fake followers, you can always report it to TikTok or get in touch with TikTok support via e-mail.
However, they will only give warnings or suspend accounts when they can prove those accounts have violated their terms and conditions.
It’s definitely still possible to identify fake followers on TikToks, and there are plenty of red flags to spot. Weird names, no profile pictures, strange engagement rates, or very low-quality videos and comments are a couple of signs pointing toward a fake follower.
Sometimes, fake followers and spambots will just follow you on TikTok for no reason: Why are they doing this and how can you stop it?