If you’re dealing with a flood of fake followers on Instagram, you’re not alone.
Beyond being annoying, this might not seem like a big deal. Just ignore them, right?
Thing is, spam followers can actually hurt your account if you don’t deal with them swiftly. This is especially true if you’re running a brand account. That’s because:
- Fake followers impact your engagement rate by not interacting with your posts. This is a negative signal to the new Instagram algorithm.
- Sudden follower spikes are suspicious to potential collaborators.
- Spam followers make your account look less credible. Left unchecked, spam comments can make it appear like you’ve purchased fake engagement.
So, how do you stop fake accounts from following you on Instagram? This post breaks down how to identify bot accounts, block them and prevent future spam followers.
Step #1: Identifying Spam IG Accounts and Fake Followers
You never want to look like you purchased followers or use bots to earn fake engagement.
Unfortunately, getting followed by these accounts is a kind of “guilt by association.” That’s why you need to be able to spot them so you can block them.
Here’s what to look for when you’re combing through your follower list:
- Accounts with profile pictures that look suspicious. For example, it might be a pixelated photo or a stock image that doesn’t align with their username.
- Accounts with seemingly random or spammy usernames. For example, accounts with names like “@ubu102340341” or “@miiiixllp100303” probably aren’t legit.
- Accounts with zero posts or no followers. If an account is following thousands of profiles but has no posts, you’re probably looking at a spam account.
Below is a classic example of a bot account on Instagram.
Distinguishing authentic and fake accounts on Instagram isn’t always so simple, though.
Some spammers put a lot of effort to make themselves seem legit. Many do this by buying fake followers themselves.
If you’re not 100% sure if an account is spam, look at its follower count and engagement rate.
Let’s say someone has 10,000 Instagram followers but their average posts only get single-digit interactions. Assuming they’re not shadowbanned, it’s safe to say the account is being boosted by bots themselves. Fishy follower numbers and engagement are a dead giveaway for detecting fake influencers.
Your Instagram comments are another place to spot fake accounts to block. Always monitor your posts for comments completely unrelated to your content. Spam comments are often promotional, inviting viewers to check out a page or link. Spamming emojis for engagement is also a common practice among Instagram bots.
Step #2: Blocking Fake Accounts That Follow You Currently
Once you’ve identified fake profiles on your account, blocking them is your best bet.
Going through one-by-one and blocking accounts by hand is tedious. If you’re a brand with thousands of followers, this is going to take some time.
Consider combing through your follower list in sets of 25 or 50 accounts to make it all less daunting. This way, you can do a deep cleaning of your followers in a few days or weeks.
Again, you don’t have to manually review every profile that followers you. Focus on the ones that set off your spam radar.
The good news is that a blocking spree now will help your account in the long run. Many bot accounts will actually use other fake accounts to find new profiles to spam. The more bots you block, the better. This also means that fewer fake profiles will interact with your real followers.
Instagram recently rolled out new privacy features to block all accounts from a single user. That means if a spammer has multiple accounts, blocking one means blocking them all.
Step #3: Adjusting Your IG Settings to Prevent Fake Followers
Let’s say you’ve cleaned up your follower list but want to prevent fake followers in the future.
A few of the privacy features we mentioned above can stop spam accounts from following you in the future. Note that these features are primarily intended for personal and creator accounts:
This feature filters specific words and phrases so they can be left in comments on your posts.
Translation? If you notice a comment phrase among your bot followers, you can mute it. Doing so can put a stop to comment spam. This means that bot followers are less likely to interact with your real ones.
This feature is like a sort of “pause button” to prevent unauthorized activity on your account. Limits are intended to assist people are might be targets of harassment or spam.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by bots, this feature can help. Just bear in mind that you shouldn’t limit your follower engagement long-term. Doing so can restrict your account’s follower growth.
No big surprises here. Message controls restrict who can DM you. If you have a busy account, restricting your DMs is a great way to prioritize legitimate Instagram engagement.
Step #4: Be Mindful of How You Use Hashtags on Instagram
Hashtags are a staple of Instagram.
That said, #tags can attract fake followers if you aren’t careful. Many bot accounts are tied to generic hashtags (think: #beauty or #haircut). They’ll seek out accounts posting to those tags and spam them with comments.
That’s why we recommend only using relevant hashtags on your posts. Cramming dozens of hashtags into a caption likewise can make you look like a spammer by accident.
Hashtags can also be used maliciously by spammers. For example, someone might send a bot to “invade” accounts using a specific hashtag. These situations are rare but not unheard of.
Consider that hashtags have less impact on reach and engagement than you might think. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress or hurt your account by using too many of them.
“Why Am I Getting Spammed by Fake Followers, Anyway?”
In the case of some Instagram bots, there isn’t much rhyme or reason in terms of who they target. These bots are built to get people to click on links. Making that happen is often a numbers game.
That’s why brand accounts and influencers are particularly vulnerable to fake followers and potential scams. The bigger your account, the more susceptible you are to spam.
There’s not too much you can do about it beyond the steps above. Of course, building an authentic presence that avoids anything that could likewise be perceived as spam can help.
For example, spamming irrelevant hashtags or commenting on posts at random can attract fake followers. That’s because bot activity often represents a snowball effect.
Preventing Fake Followers and Spam By Keeping It Real
Real followers. Meaningful engagement. Personalized interactions.
Prioritizing all of the above helps build a community of real people and not robots.
The more you focus on building an authentic Instagram presence, the better. Likewise, this makes it easier to spot and stamp out potential spammers before they act.
And it goes without saying but buying fake followers on Instagram is not the way to go.
Because your genuine followers and customers can detect spammers just like you can.
If you’re a brand struggling to build an authentic Instagram following, we feel you. Competition is fierce right now and standing out from the crowd is tough. That’s where Statusphere can help.
Our full-service influencer marketing platform matches brands with authentic creators with legitimate engagement. By partnering with people who are excited about your brand, you can introduce your products to real customers in a meaningful way.
Want to see our process or understand how we can help you grow? Contact one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists today to learn more!
This article was first published in September 2018. It was last updated October 1, 2022.