Online marketing can be difficult, but it’s never a good idea to try tactics that break the rules to get ahead quickly. This is true for SEO, since many black hat SEO tricks usually become the targets of SEO penalties in future algorithm updates. The same is true for social media. People may want to build their fan base quickly, but buying fans and followers from websites can quickly backfire. Many Instagram pages may soon see their Follower counts, post likes and comments drop as Instagram takes new actions against fraudulent engagement.
It’s important for people and brands that want to be seen as influential on Instagram to have a large number of followers and engagement. This creates an incentive for page owners to do anything to grow their number of followers as quickly as possible. This also leads to people using services and tools that generate a large number of followers and engagement, but through inauthentic means. This is any service that promises a set amount of followers or engagement for a set price, since the people who are liking and following the pages have no interest in them.
The newest trend in inauthentic engagement has involved the use of third-party apps that link to an Instagram account to generate followers and post likes. In a recent blog post, Instagram announced a large effort to combat this form of inauthentic engagement.
“Recently, we’ve seen accounts use third-party apps to artificially grow their audience,” the company explained. “Every day people come to Instagram to have real experiences, including genuine interactions. It is our responsibility to ensure these experiences aren’t disrupted by inauthentic activity. Starting today, we will begin removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity.”
Rather than rely on community reporting to find accounts and services that violate their policies, Instagram has “built machine learning tools to help identify accounts that use these services and remove the inauthentic activity.” Instagram has used these kinds of tools before so this is more of an update than a radical change in direction.
For people who used inauthentic engagement services for their own account, the decline in followers will be annoying and could be a source for embarrassment when their real fans see how many fake followers there were. When other social media platforms have trimmed the fake fans and followers from accounts, it has exposed celebrities and politicians whose accounts used these services.
This crackdown by Instagram also has the potential to embarrass any social media managers who used fake follower services or apps for a client, since Instagram is sending a message to page owners notifying them that the inauthentic engagement was removed. Besides the notifications, page owners will have to change their password.
There is a possibility that people may have accidentally given access to their Instagram account to a third-party app without realizing it. These people may be genuinely confused by the notification they get from Instagram explaining why they’re losing a large portion of their fans and likes. This is something for marketers to keep in mind if their clients start getting notifications from Instagram and they aren’t using any inauthentic engagement tactics. Changing the password should be enough to cut the connection from any unauthorized app.
This may seem like a lot but it may only be the beginning of the crackdown. Right now, Instagram is simply removing the inauthentic engagement. In the future, it may lead to penalties for the Instagram account itself. As Instagram explained in their post, “These new measures will be ongoing, and accounts that continue to use third-party apps to grow their audience may see their Instagram experience impacted.”
To learn about one new way small business owners can engage with their audience, read this article a feature that will let businesses on Google Maps chat with people through the app.