If you are one of the 1.35 billion users on Instagram worldwide, odds are, you’ve come across some suspicious comments like “DM for collabs,” “Send me a message,” or “Grow your account with us.” These kinds of comments are coming from even more suspicious accounts, known as Instagram spam bots.
Those are the villains of the Insta-world, capable of shaking the harmony on the social platform. They use clever tricks to fake likes, follows, and comments or even send direct messages.
With its vast pool of users and great tools, Instagram definitely offers excellent opportunities for brands to shine and build relationships with their audience. But in order to use its full potential, it’s essential to avoid the negative consequences spam accounts could bring to your marketing efforts.
So let’s find out what Instagram spam bots are, where they come from, and what you can do to stop them.
What are Instagram spam bots?
Instagram spam bots are automated accounts created to perform fake interactions on the platform.
They fall within the family of social bots. With their wide presence, social bots are designed to automate social media engagements and post content, yet most of these actions display spam-like characteristics. Instagram bots are programmed to perform engagements in a way specific to this platform only.
Just like any other type of online bots, they hide their identity by imitating human activity on Instagram. This means they can randomly comment on your photos or reels, like your posts, or click your ads and damage your conversion rate.
What are they used for?
Using spam bots to artificially grow Instagram accounts
With such attributes, bot accounts are an attractive option for some businesses or individuals who want to grow their accounts quickly.
They’re drawn in by the idea of gaining more followers, reach, and engagement. However, they overlook the fact that this approach is unethical, fraudulent, and can’t bring actual positive results. They may not realize the harm it can cause in the long term.
Here are some of the risks of using spam bots on Instagram:
Your account could be banned. Instagram has strict rules against spam bots in its Community Guidelines. If you’re caught using them, your account could be banned.
Bad user experience for your real followers. When people notice that your engagement is fake, they’ll be disappointed and may unfollow you.
Your brand image will be damaged. Using spam bots can give the impression that your business is unethical or unprofessional.
If you want to grow your Instagram account, there are better ways to do it. Focus on creating high-quality content that will engage your real audience and keep their interest.
Spam bots for malicious activities on Instagram
In addition to being used to artificially inflate engagement, spam bots can also be used for more malicious purposes.
Promoting scams and phishing attacks. One of the common use cases of fake accounts is to promote or send direct messages that contain malicious links. These links can be used to steal personal information, install malware, or trick users into making payments.
Spread misinformation. Spam bots can be used to post false or misleading information on Instagram. This can be done to influence public opinion or damage the reputation of an individual, business, or organization.
Harassing users. Often, spam bots are used to send unwanted messages or comments to users. Their purpose for doing this is to bully, threaten, or intimidate users.
Commit ad fraud. Some spam bots on Instagram are used to click on ads and drive invalid traffic to websites. This can cost advertisers a lot of money and make it difficult to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.
How can you recognize spam bot accounts?
In the vast pool of Instagram accounts, bots can easily go unnoticed. Especially if you don’t know what their common traits are or if their creators use more advanced features to hide their nature.
Bot accounts can often make their profile look more real by behaving just like legitimate users. Some of them regularly post images or stories to avoid being flagged as spam.
As software programs, they don’t have the capacity to understand what’s posted, which is why they leave weird and unrelated comments. They are programmed with a library of pre-written generic texts that they use to comment or DM users. They post these texts randomly, and some more advanced bots can even target specific posts, users, or groups of users.
Common signs of spam accounts
Here are some tips on how to recognize spam bots on Instagram:
Usernames of the accounts. Look for accounts that use generic or nonsense usernames. Often they can have some of the following naming patterns:
- A name followed by a random number or word: ”_liam1212”, or “jameswarrior”
- Generic names that promise followers or likes: “1000followersfree” or “like4like_1000“
- A random username without any actual meaning: “_mr_topgun893”, “id___love_mercy”
- Names that are related to popular trends: “tiktokfamous” or “instamodel“
Nonsense bios. Check the account’s bio. Spam bots often have generic bios. Their common trait is that they are very short and to the point, and they use emojis and hashtags or focus on promoting services or products. Quite often, there could be a link to a malicious website. Here are a few examples:
- Get free followers by following me!
- I’m an influencer; follow me for the latest trends!
- Free promotions
- Dogs are my thing 🐶🐕
- DM for collabs 📩🙏🏼
The nature of the comment or DMs. Spam bots often leave generic or irrelevant comments that don’t make sense in the context of the post. They may also post inappropriate or unrelated content. Examples of spam comments or messages:
- Promote it on 💯
- Send pic 💞
- Send it on 📩 🙌
- Send me a message 📩 😽💗🔥
- DM it on 💯 📩
- DM for collabs 🤑
- DM for promotions 🔥🔥🔥
Profile pictures. Spam accounts often use profile pictures that are stock photos or that have been stolen from other accounts.
Low Follower-to-Following Ratio: Real users generally have a balanced or natural ratio of followers to accounts they follow. Spam bots, on the other hand, often have a high number of accounts they follow but very few followers in return.
Lack of Personal Posts: Real users usually share personal photos and content on their profiles. If an account only reposts or shares content without any original posts, it could be a sign of a bot.
Remember, while these indicators can help identify potential spam bots, some real Instagram users may display similar behaviors. Therefore, it’s essential to exercise caution and not jump to conclusions without thorough analysis.
How to stop spam bots on Instagram?
Interacting with these fake bot accounts could have real consequences for private and business accounts. It could include a banned Instagram account, decreased reach for your posts, poor brand image, or even stolen content and brand information.
As a platform, Instagram is taking this problem seriously. They continuously refine their systems to detect and remove such accounts to maintain the integrity and safety of the platform.
However, due to the dynamic nature of technology and the ever-evolving tactics of spammers, new spam bots may emerge or adapt to evade detection. To remain safe and protect your marketing efforts on the platform, you must take some actions on your end too.
There are a few ways you can stop Instagram spam bots from engaging with you:
- Block and report spam accounts. If you receive a spam message or follow request, you can block the account and report it to Instagram. This will help prevent the account from contacting you again and will also help Instagram identify and remove spam accounts.
- Turn off similar account suggestions. This setting will prevent your account from being suggested to other users who may be spammers. You can find this setting under “Edit profile,” and you need to untick the box next to “Show account suggestions on profiles.”
- Filter your comments. While you can always hide comments that may seem spammy, there’s a way to avoid them automatically. You can filter your comments so that the ones that contain certain words or phrases won’t be allowed. You can find this setting under Settings > Privacy > Comments > Hidden Words.
- Use a bot protection solution. These tools can be a helpful way to block spam accounts and messages.
When it comes to protecting your Instagram ads from ad fraud, check ClickCease’s Facebook ad fraud protection product. It will block bot accounts from engaging with your Instagram ads, ensuring that your budget is being used for genuine traffic only.
So if you want to maintain a healthy presence on the platform, start implementing these safety tips. These will help you keep Instagram spam bots away and, therefore, attract more genuine followers, drive more traffic to your website, and ultimately, increase your sales.
Why are Instagram bots so harmful?
Instagram bots can be detrimental to businesses for several reasons:
- Get your account banned: Any use of spam accounts violates Instagram’s terms of service. If a business is caught using bots to grow its account, it may be flagged, restricted, or even permanently banned.
- Damage to organic reach: Instagram’s algorithm is designed to prioritize content based on genuine engagement and user interactions. If an account has extensive engagement coming from bots, the algorithm may reduce the visibility of their posts.
- Scam users. Some bots are used to scam users by tricking them into giving out personal information or clicking on malicious links. This can lead to identity theft, financial fraud, and other problems.
- Ad fraud on your ads. Instagram spam bots could interact with your paid campaigns on Instagram, resulting in ineffective spending on your ad budget.
What are the common types of Instagram spam bots?
Instagram spam bots come in many forms, but they all share one common goal – to benefit their owner in some way. Some of the most common are:
- Follow bots. These bots will automatically follow other accounts in an attempt to inflate their follower count artificially.
- Like bots. Designed to like other users’ posts to either boost their popularity or aim to be noticed.
- Comment bots. These bots comment on other users’ posts with automated messages, often promoting products or services.
- Message bots. These bots send direct messages to other users with automated messages, often trying to sell something or send spammy links.
- Phishing bots. These bots can send messages that appear to be from Instagram but are actually trying to steal users’ login credentials.