JC Tech: That time I tried being an Instagram spammer (+it worked)

November 20, 2016

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Ooph. That title. So let’s get into this.

The Context

I really don’t like Instagram at the moment. It drives me a little nuts. It’s one of those things where I think it is SO hard to grow your platform if you don’t have a load of time, a fancy camera or you know, a masters in photography (welcome to my life). The platform is so over bloated at the moment that standing out has been kind of impossible for me. Honestly, if you are smashing it right now then I have all the respect for you!

But I did manage to grow my platform slowly, see my post on how I grew my followers over 25% in one month post for some of the legit ways to grow your following. But well, one day, I was strolling through my notifications and looking at all the spammy commenters, random likers and followers who were soon to disappear and I was like, well let’s give it a go then.

The Reasons

You see, I wanted to know if it worked. And if you aren’t familiar with instagram then a quick overview is in order. In order to get people to see your profile, it is a lot easier if you appear within a users notifications rather than exploring using the explore feature. And there are three ways to appear there, as a like, which often gets lost within a sea of likes if you are getting more than say, 20 per photo. A comment, which people do tend to see and read more. Or through a follow which users always see as it appears with a different icon. The theory then being that the user follows you back and hey, you get a big following.

The problem with the following tactic is that users generally want a good ratio of people following them, versus who the are following. ‘Cause obvs if loads of people are following you, and you only follow like 10 people then it shows you are an account endorsed by that many people. So, people follow you, then they unfollow and this is really annoying. Every single day my follower count inflates and deflates, sometimes as many as 20 followers.

But here came the intrigue, as someone who doesn’t follow back or if I did, would promptly unfollow if they unfollowed me in suit, does it actually work?!

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The Experiment – the Like Bot

Well, I decided to start off with something a little less spammy. The Likes bot.

And can I just start off with saying that none of what I’m talking about in this post were done on my personal instagram account on the side bar there. I created a new instagram account for the purposes of this experiment, as well I didn’t want to ruin my own, or raise my chances of being banned after the amount of effort I had to put in for those 2000 followers!

So I started on this like bot, it was free for like 3 days and you popped in all the hashtags you wanted to target. There are a heap out there which all give the same premise really. My new instagram was more foodie oriented so I put in some foodie hashtags and waited for the magic to happen! Well, it really didn’t. Within one day, my account was put on a 24 hour block for suspicious activity, despite all the spammy websites constantly reiterating that they will always keep you within the ‘allowed’ limits.

I wasn’t particularly pleased by this, it was probably more likely that I was blocked so early on because I had created a new account – the more you post and build up genuine interaction the better, but still, within one day!! I kept it going for a couple more after the block but all in all a total fail. I think I gained like 3 followers and it was probably something I could do in half an hour one afternoon anyway.

The Experiment – the Follow / Unfollow

So after that, I figured it was time to up the game. I didn’t want to go down the spam comment line as they are just TOO annoying and sometimes so inappropriate for the photos that are commented on. I tried a follow bot for like a day but it was just too many, thousands of follows in a day. Plus some of them charge a right ton for doing it as well!

So I went old school and just wandered through hashtags and instead of normally liking them, I followed them instead. A day or two later, I checked using the FollowMe app the people who hadn’t followed back, and unfollowed. Then did it all over again. I found that this worked a right treat and from day to day I’d gain from 10 – 50 followers. The theory worked, people do follow back!

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So what happens now?!

You see the bloody problem here, is that is actually worked!! Argh. I had hoped I’d do this and then I’d gain no followers and it would be hunky dory, hello validation to existing strategy. And the even worse bit is the argument I would usually use of ‘oh but the followers you do gain aren’t good, engaged ones like when I build my following organically’ ISNT EVEN TRUE. I get more likes on my account with 1000+ unfollow/follow followers than I do on my account which I put all my time in. It’s actually super disheartening to my actual account as I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong over there.

And also, it’s kind of addictive. Look at those followers growing, it’s like you’ve found a cheat code and suddenly it all becomes easier and that stupid warm validation you get from social media happens more often. Ugh.

So as you can probably tell by this blog post, this experiment led to a whole load of weird feelings and opinions on instagram and the strategies used. Do I kind of want to keep on doing this on that account? To be honest, kind of yes. Will I use these tactics on my personal account? No, because I still find it super annoying. Will I keep using it forever on my 2nd account? No – I kind of hoped after the experiment I’d stop my second account, but now I really love all the pics on it so that one was a bit of a fail too.

Now, please dear god, tell me all of your opinions on this. Do you really hate instagram spammy accounts? Are you surprised it worked? Will you try it? Why does it actually work?! It’s like a social media moral conundrum.

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