Seeing your Instagram followers rise in numbers due to your continuous effort is an incredibly rewarding prospect. It reinforces that your marketing strategy is sound, and even better, that people genuinely want to follow you. However, when closely inspecting some of these followers, it's likely that you will find profiles that would be deemed as spam. These accounts are completely fake profiles that will continuously request that you like their photos or will try and post clickbait comments on your own photos. Not only is this a great annoyance to you, but it degrades your whole profile's look and professionalism.
Instagram periodically does a network-wide purge, which eliminates a significant portion of these spam accounts. These purges are done fairly infrequently, but you don't want to wait for them to clean up, so it's advisable that you proactively try and reduce the amount of spam accounts that interact with you.The general trend seems to be that the more followers an account has, the higher proportion of those will be spam accounts. Many celebrities and large organization Instagram accounts lost millions of followers in 2014 when the network did its first major cleanse.
What does spam look like?
Spam accounts can present themselves in a few different ways, so it's important that you understand what to look out for when trying to combat your own spam problem. Although some of this information is fairly obvious, it's still important to familiarize yourself with the current trends. Be on the lookout for:
Passive spammers whose profile will only have a single photo, and bio that tries to persuade you to click their URL.
Aggressive spammers profiles will look similar to those that are passive, except they will bombard your photos with comments asking you to check out their bio link.
Real spammers, who use no bot automation, are literally sat there scrolling through various hashtags in order to try and offer a trade of "like for like".
Is Instagram spam avoidable?
There aren't many ways to reliably protect your account from this type of spam, or to guarantee that your follower numbers don't get axed in a later algorithm change, unfortunately. What you can do, though, is to flag posts and accounts manually on Instagram, or even use a dedicated app which will scan your followers for the obvious signs of being a spam account. The best option is to make your Instagram profile private, as this will only allow people who you have screened to be able to interact with your content. The disadvantage of this is that it ruins the viral effect of an account, and you may find that you will be spending half of your day screening every single person who is trying to follow your account, which is not ideal.
Although it may work well for some, having a private profile is really not an option for most. The whole purpose of having a public profile is so that potential followers and customers are able to easily view your content and to be able to follow you with ease. A private profile would hinder this flow, and would likely result in a largely reduced follower rate.
What many Instagrammers have realized, though, is that most malicious spam accounts scrape users via the hashtags that they use. Therefore by using extremely basic and popular hashtags like #love, #cute, #fashion, etc, you are essentially advertising yourself to the majority of the spam networks. By using more niche specific hashtags, you should be able to eliminate a huge proportion of spam commenting and following on your own profile. Not only that, but you'll also be gaining more niche related followers too.
Mass block spam comments
A fairly recent update to Instagram has given us some pretty decent options for spam blocking. It allows us to automatically hide inappropriate comments, which are comments that are frequently reported on the Instagram platform. There is also a custom keyword field as well, which means that you could add in words like "profile" to stop all of those comments asking you to view their link bio on their profile.
Before following this tutorial, it's imperative that you make sure that your Instagram is updated to the latest version.
- Open up your recently updated Instagram app on your phone.
- Click your profile button, on the bottom right.
- Now click the settings cog wheel on the top right of the screen.
- Scroll down until you see a tab called "Comments", and click it.
- This is where you can turn on the "Hide Inappropriate Comments" option. This option will automatically block any comments that use a common offensive word or phrase, that is regularly reported on Instagram.
- It's likely that "Hide Inappropriate Comments" will not manage to filter all of the spam, so this is where the "Custom Keywords" field should be used. Type as many different words that you have seen specifically in these spam comments, with a comma between each one. You can keep coming back to this list anytime you want and adding more words as you see fit.
- After these settings are configured to your liking, click "Done" to activate your new spam filtration system.
Can spam followers hurt my engagement?
The short answer to this is yes. New Instagram posts rely heavily on the initial engagement it gets, as to whether more of your followers will be able to see your photo on their newsfeed. The requirements for this engagement increase fairly rapidly the higher your follower count becomes. Therefore, if thousands of spam accounts are seeing your post and not engaging with it, Instagram is just going to assume that your content is not worth exposing to more people.
So while the tutorial above will severely reduce the amount of spam comments you get, you will still have to keep on top of spam followers yourself. Always be on the lookout for suspicious looking profiles that have minimal pictures and a high follower rate, as well as profiles that have obvious clickbait bios. Doing so will not only keep your engagement higher but also means that you will lose minimal followers the next time Instagram does another network-wide spring clean.