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How to Manage Fake Followers on Social Media

With more and more businesses utilising social media marketing, an influx of spambots can be frustrating while trying to maintain a trustworthy brand reputation.

You’ve probably come across spambots on Instagram, but the problem is not limited to this platform with the pesky fake followers popping up on Facebook and Twitter too. In fact, with over 1 billion users on Instagram, it is thought that there are 95 million bots posing as real accounts. There’s no hiding that there is a real, and harmful, spambot issue on social media platforms today.

While you may brush over the fact that your accounts have fake followers - hey, everyone has some, but the ratio of fake to real followers is a problem - they can have a detrimental impact on your marketing efforts and how customers perceive your business. If you have a high following, thanks to spambots, but low engagement, your account will look suspicious and users may question your brand’s trustworthiness. No business wants to come across as cheap but fake followers create such an impression.

Another issue that bots pose is that they aren’t your customers, they’re not even real people! The purpose of social media channels is to connect with people by strengthening customer relationships and building brand loyalty. Posting content to spambots is not going to be beneficial to your business in any way. 

So how do spambots come about in the first place? Some businesses may decide to sign up for bot services in order to improve their following/followers ratio - you essentially will pay for bots to follow lots of accounts and then unfollow afterwards to clean up your following. We’re not pointing the finger, you may have done this in the past but you’ve probably seen the issues that spambots create first-hand. Not only are they predominantly annoying, but some of them are actually malicious attackers designed to trick you into doing something harmful. That’s why it’s best to stay well clear of any suspicious sites promising ‘1000s of new followers’.

On the other hand, you may not have done anything that warrants being followed by spambots and that’s because by having a business profile (a public account), you’re essentially vulnerable as anyone can follow you. That’s great for genuine followers, but not so much when spambots are involved. If you’re noticed an influx of fake followers, it can be difficult to individually moderate each user as you would with a private account. 

However, it’s not that hard to spot a spambot, meaning you and your colleagues can easily see who is real and who isn’t…

  • Illogical Numbers - This could fall at any side of the scale. Your spambot may have a large number of followers but no posts. Otherwise, they may have very few followers at all. Anything that seems suspicious may suggest they’re not authentic. 
  • Bare Profile - They will probably have the bare minimum on their profile such as a profile photo and a couple of pictures but no bio, location or personality of any type - they are robots after all!
  • Random Photos - There are a number of spambots that will post images taken from royalty-free sites to give the impression that they are genuine. 
  • Leave ‘Spammy’ Comments - You can usually spot fake followers on your own posts as they may leave generic responses that don’t relate back to the post such as random emojis or ‘great pic’. 

Once you have discovered what scale of spambot clean-up you require, you need to be brutal in getting rid of your fake followers. 

First things first, take a look at what third party applications have permission to access your account as some spambots may be targeting you via these applications. Remove anything that appears suspicious or that you no longer require.

Next, consider downloading a fake follower app, to analyse who’s fake and who’s genuine. You can then go to the bot’s profile, click ‘report’ and the account will automatically be blocked and removed from your followers. This will protect your own business and other accounts from that spammer. You will also be helping to make social media a happier and more authentic place - well done!

Each social media platform is aware of their spambot issue and is trying to tackle it behind the scenes every day. If you notice a drop in followers, don’t worry as the platform has probably undergone a spam purge. While it looks scary to see your numbers drop, you should see it as a positive thing as genuine followers, those that will actually buy your product or service, will be the only people engaging with your posts.

The frustrating thing is that usually when one bot disappears, another will take its place. It’s time-consuming but there’s no other way around it at the moment, you must continually monitor your followers in order to keep fake followers at bay.