When I did my Instagram Experiment a few weeks ago, I discovered something that made me sad. More people follow and unfollow or use bots than I realised. I wanted to share some ways to spot the people that do this in hope to raise awareness. It might seem bit petty and this isn’t to out anyone. I just believe more people should be aware of those that use tactics to make their following or engagement look like it’s better than it is.
Brands should be aware so when they want to work with Instagrammers, they can ensure they are not wasting their money on accounts that have simply cheated their way to the top and don’t actually have engaged followers that will buy their product or use their service.
People, in general, should be aware so if you decide to buy something from a company, person or brand that uses Instagram, you know their account is genuine. I’m going to use the example of a PT at my gym that has grown her following from 4k to 21k since October last year by using bots. She brands herself as a public figure with authority in social media and sells workout programs online. She is lying to anyone that buys her product as they will assume she has gained her following through how good her programs are. If someone wants to use her as a PT and find her via Instagram, again they will assume she is a great PT as many people follow her – this also takes business away from other PTs in the gym that have a smaller but organic following.
I’ll use this account as an example throughout this post but will not give out the username.
Using social blade is a great way to see if someone is faking their following or not by following and following users.
You can view their history of how many people they are following and how many people are following them:
As you can see, this person had a similar amount of followers and the number of people they were following. Then in October, they started to follow and unfollow accounts and their following grew.
In the image above, you can see the actual amount the account is following and unfollowing a day. It’s natural to have some changes, but when it gets into the hundreds, it’s’ quite aggressive!
Watch their following amount.
If someone is using bots, then the number of people they are following will change throughout the day.
If you refresh and see it changing often, or at odd times, chances are they are using bots to do the dirty work for them. I had the pleasure of watching this number change while I was in the gym, stood a few meters away from this PT while she was training someone and not on her phone. Oops!
The accounts they follow.
If someone follows accounts that don’t seem to make sense to their niches or interests, chances are they are using bots or just following anyone.
These are some of the accounts that the PT follows. As you can see, they look random and are possibly even fake accounts.
Look at their engagement.
Do their comments look like spam? If they do, chances are they are spam!
You can also look at the profiles of the accounts leaving the comments and likes to see if the look random and spammy.
This post isn’t intended for people to go out there and be the Instagram police by outing people, but just to give a bit of awareness to stop people wasting money and time on those that cheat the system.