A few months ago, Mediakix ran an experiment by creating two new Instagram profiles, one using photos of a local model and one using stock photos. The company then filled both accounts with purchased followers, likes and comments. Before long, each account had secured paid influencer deals with brands, despite reaching a grand total of zero real people.
On the one hand, this shows how easy it is to grow your numbers rapidly if you’re willing to resort to fake traffic. But on the other hand, it shows just how big the problem of bot accounts and illegitimate traffic has become for everyone involved — marketers, brands and social media platforms.
While marketers might feel good to see their follower count rise, those who rely on empty traffic will inevitably suffer the consequences. By relying on the automation of inauthentic engagement, including automatic likes, comments, follows and unfollows, the only thing you’ll gain in the long term is frustration. Here’s why.
The new social media standard
Although sniffing out bot accounts remains challenging, Instagram closely monitors services that claim to help users game the system, and it punishes all those involved, users and third-party services alike. Brands that rely on spam accounts to boost followers, or even “like” other content pages to strengthen their own followings, are at risk of being shadowbanned (a Instagram penalty that makes your hashtags undiscoverable).
If that happens, targeted companies have to rebuild their pages from scratch, setting back any new engagement and potentially losing genuine legacy followers while their pages remain hidden.
Social platforms are cracking down — and they aren’t alone. Companies such as Fohr Card are moving to take the initiative. Fohr Card identifies which influencer followers are bot accounts, then reduces its fees to ensure that companies pay only for engagement with real followers.
This type of monitoring isn’t new. Instagram did a major spam purge in 2014 that impacted even major brands such as Nike, National Geographic and Forever 21. That’s not to say these accounts paid for followers, only that fake followers make up a larger proportion of the Instagram population than you might expect — about 8 percent, according to a Fohr Card press release.
Some social platforms have in place plans to shut down your account f they detect fake followers. While there aren’t…