So, I ranted about this topic on Instagram Stories last week, but, oh look – apparently I’m going to rant about it over here, too, because here’s the thing: I’m getting really, really sick of Instagram, and the crazy levels of fakery people are willing to descend to over there, in a bid to get themselves a few more followers.

And, I mean, look, I get it: we’d all like more followers, we’d all like more engagement, and, for those influencers who’ve made Instagram an integral part of their online businesses, we’d all like to do everything we can to make a success of it. Like I said, I get it: I’ve been working on building my Instagram following too this year, and I don’t blame anyone for doing their best to raise their profile. Lately, though, I’ve been starting to question whether it’s even worth bothering any more, when so many people are prepared to just buy or manipulate their way to Instagram success – which leaves the rest of us feeling like we’re failing miserably in comparison.

What inspired this particular rant? Well, last week I posted this image to my Instagram account, and then went about my business as usual. When I checked back just a few minutes later, though, I was surprised to find the image already had quite a few comments – and even more surprised to find that all but one of them said exactly the same thing:

Instgram fakery

(The “super-snuggly”comment may or may not be genuine, but I’ve hidden the person’s name, just in case. One of the issues with this kind of thing is that it makes you doubt the authenticity of absolutely everyone…)

Well, not exactly the same thing: every one of the commenters  had written the words, “Loving winter,” but while one person was loving winter with a palm tree emoji, another was loving it with a heart-eyed emoji, and so on and so forth. All of this was pretty confusing to me: neither the photo, captions or hashtags had referenced winter at all, and although it was a photo of me in a thick sweater – which I guess people might associate with winter – there didn’t really seem to be a reason everyone would, almost simultaneously, make exactly the same observation about it, and all within a few minutes of each other.

At first I thought it was either some kind of wind-up, or just a joke that was going right over my head. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time something like that had happened to me, but when I posted about it on Twitter, no one there seemed to get the joke either –  which made me think there was something else going on here. And here’s what I think it is…

Is insincerity killing Instagram? Debate on fake followers, fake comments, and the many different ways people attempt to manipulate the Instagram algorithmAlmost every article you read about Instagram will advise you to like and comment on other people’s posts, in order to draw their attention to your account, and hopefully persuade you to follow them. Doing that on enough images for it to make a significant difference to your follower numbers, however, would be pretty time consuming… which is why a number of websites have sprung up which offer to do it all for you – for a price, of course.

Most of these sites use some kind of script to automate the process of commenting/liking Instagram posts for you: so you simply give them your account details, and they’ll post comments and/or likes on anything from dozens to hundreds of photos a day. I’m not sure exactly how this works, but my best guess is that the automated script looks for a certain word in a caption or hashtag, and then either likes the photo or posts a comment it deems to be “appropriate” for that word. Which sounds fine in theory, but which will backfire pretty badly if:

a) The photo the comment is posted on relates to something very serious, or not totally connected to the ‘trigger’ word. I mean, I’m assuming the word “knitwear” in my caption was the trigger here (it’s the only explanation I can think of), but can you imagine how I’d have felt if I’d said something like, “I’m wearing this cosy knitwear for comfort, because I’m really sad today,” and everyone was just all, “Loving winter!” in response?

b) The script posts the same comment, to the same photo, multiple times in a row, from different users, thus instantly “outing” those people as having paid someone to leave comments for them. (On that point, by the way, I did respond to some of the accounts asking them if there was some genuine meaning to their comment that I was just missing, but none of them replied to me. I’ve now deleted their comments as a courtesy to them, but I do hope they had a chance to read my responses before they disappeared…) Awkward.

Now, the thing that made all of this so strange to me was that all of the commenters who were “Loving winter,” on my photo seemed to be genuine Instagram users, rather than spam accounts. None of them were actually following me, as far as I could tell, but still: all real people/brands, who would presumably be horrified to know that some dodgy ‘Instagram engagement’ script had made them look… well, a bit odd, really. Why would someone risk their reputation like that? As far as I can tell, there are only two reasons someone would use this kind of service:

a) Vanity. People like having high follower numbers, and, these days, they are increasingly prepared to do whatever it takes, even if it’s dodgy as all hell, to get them.

b) Money. It’s pretty obvious that the people with the highest number of Instagram followers will win the most brand collaborations, and be able to command the highest fees. Like I said, we ALL want to grow our following, and most of us don’t have the time to spend hours every day liking and commenting on Instagram – so why not automate the process by getting someone to do it for you?

The argument from people who use these scripts is that the followers they gain from it are genuine ones. They’re not paying for followers, exactly: they’re paying for a service that will basically help draw attention to their accounts by leaving comments and liking photos for them, just as they might do themselves if they had the time for it. When you put it like that, it probably sounds pretty innocuous, but the problem (other than the fact that, no matter how you want to try to justify it, it’s still effectively an attempt to ‘cheat the system’) is that these services don’t actually use Instagram in a natural way, or a way that you’d necessarily even approve of: they’re leaving comments and liking photos under your name, on accounts you know nothing about, and they’re posting things that often don’t make sense, or, in the worst case scenario, could end up being incredibly offensive.

An automated script, no matter how good it is, cannot accurately replicate human behaviour: it can’t actually look at a photo/caption, understand the context and the subtleties of it, and leave the same kind of comment a human being would. Instead, it just looks for a certain word then blurts out a generic, two-word  statement, which may or may not be accompanied by a random emoji. In the best case scenario, you’ll end up looking like a spammer or an airhead: in the worst-case scenario, you end up “liking” a photo posted by a neo-Nazi account, or commenting, “Love this!” on a photo of someone’s recently deceased pet.

While I understand the logic of people thinking, “I want to grow my Instagram, but I don’t have the time to do it myself,” I find all of this incredibly problematic: honestly, I think it’s ruining Instagram. The sad fact is, you see, this kind of thing doesn’t just begin and end with a few annoying comments on a single photo – if it did, I wouldn’t be bothering to write about it, because we all get spammed from time to time, and it’s really not worth getting worked up about.  It’s not even about the so-called ‘fake’ photos that people post. Let’s be honest: no one really thinks all those carefully curated flatlays and filtered selfies are representative of ‘real’ life, and I’d argue that most people don’t really care. I don’t, particularly: the fact is, I like looking at pretty photos, and I can’t bring myself to get worked up over the idea that someone went the extra mile to create them. (Honestly, when I see people complain that “It’s not REAL life!” my main thought is, “Who ARE these people who apparently take photos of their laundry piles and zits, and expect everyone else to do the same?”)

Is insincerity killing Instagram?
I DO, however, care about the fake followers and the fake comments: and while the “loving winter!” incident was the most obvious one I’ve noticed so far on my own account, I have also noticed an increase in the generic “love this!” or “” comments I get – all of them from accounts that don’t follow me, and most of them probably posted by a script, rather than a real person. It depresses the hell out of me. I really hate creating an image I’m proud of, posting it, and then only getting fake comments from robots. It makes me wonder what the point is: who am I even talking to on Instagram now? Who am I reaching? Did ANYONE like that cute photo of my dog, or were all the likes and comments from automated scripts, or even just real people who aren’t actually interested in my account, but who’ve decided to try to use it in attempt to boost their own following?

Ultimately, I think that, even if these automated scripts work flawlessly, and never post anything dodgy or spammy, they’re still a pretty sad reflection on the state of social media and blogging right now, and if you think there’s no harm in it, please consider the fact that you’re essentially just using people for your own gain. As my experience above demonstrates, when I tried to start a dialogue with the people who’d appeared to comment on my photo, there was no response – because these people aren’t remotely interested in what I have to say, they’re only interested in using my account to boost their own. It’s not a nice feeling to be on the receiving end of that, and I actually worried at one point that all of those obviously fake comments would end up making ME look bad, by leading people to suspect that I was the one paying for followers. These comments are not natural, they’re not nice, and they make the accounts posting them look ridiculous – yes, even when it’s just a simple  “heart eyes” emoji, or whatever else you think won’t make you look bad. Insincerity does make you look bad, though: which isn’t really a great way to brand your grid, is it?

heart art on coffee cupMore and more, I feel like the artificial manipulation of the Instagram algorithm has started to replace genuine engagement over there. Just a few days after all those “loving winter” comments landed on my account, I logged into Facebook, and almost immediately stumbled upon a thread on one of my blogging groups, in which people were debating the various merits of the services I’m talking about here: ones designed to “like” and “comment” on your behalf. I was honestly quite shocked to realise how many of these services there are – and how many people use them, into the bargain. In that group, almost everyone who responded to the thread was using an Instagram bot to comment/like from their account: I’ve known for a while now that these services exist, but I genuinely hadn’t realised how popular they are, and it was quite depressing to see that a lot of people just seem to take it as read that this is what they have to do to “get ahead”. It made me suddenly wonder if this is why my own account doesn’t grow as quickly as other people’s seem to – and to question if it’s even worth my while bothering with Instagram at all now.

But this is how the internet is now – and it’s starting to feel increasingly fake and hollow to me. I look at successful Instagrammers, and wonder if they bought their followers. I get a new comment on one of my photos, and I now have to ask myself if it was left by a REAL person, or a robot. I look at a blog post with tons of comments (but terrible writing and photography) and know beyond doubt that the only reason that person seems “popular” is because they post their link to 50+ Facebook threads per day, and then spend hours leaving insincere comments on the blogs of everyone else in the the thread, in order to get their own insincere comments in return. This is CRAZY, people. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever… and yet I personally know people who will argue all day long that that it’s the ONLY way to get ahead in blogging/social media, and that they HAVE to do it, because there’s no other choice.

The result is that Instagram is fast becoming a platform which bloggers use to present fake lifestyles, to fake followers, in order to get fake likes and comments – is it any wonder that we’re still not being taken seriously?

[bctt tweet=”Instagram is fast becoming a platform which bloggers use to present fake lifestyles, to fake followers, in order to get fake likes and comments ” username=”foreveramber”]

P.S. Slightly different from what I’m talking about above, but I posted one of the photos from this post on Instagram, with a caption talking about the post, and here’s the first comment it got:

Thanks for proving my point, Spambot!

123 Comments
  1. Real person comment : I wholeheartedly agree, and every time I get a 2-word or only-emoji fake comment, it gets deleted. Makes me feel icky just having it attached to me in any way, like I condone it by letting it sit there for all to see

  2. This annoys me sooo bloody much. I’m working on growing my Instagram organically too and get so many of these weirdly un-related comments. Instagram is my favourite social media platform, but I also spend a lot of time deleting spam comments and those ‘get a 100000 followers’ accounts.

  3. “Pretty nice” “Cool Profile” “Very Sweet”. Sigh.
    What really annoys me is when people/ companies follow me, ‘like’ every one of my pictures and comment, and if I follow them back they unfollow me straight away.

  4. I had my first experience with these types of comments just last week, I’m honestly baffled why people think they’re a good idea. I ended up with around 15 comments on one of my pictures that said ‘loving this 😍’… unfortunately that photo was a picture of me and my Nan who passed away this week, not exactly sensitive and I’m sure the people behind the accounts would likely be mortified if they knew. I don’t think I’d ever use a service like this, nothing beats a good, genuine, thought out comment in my opinion ☺️

    Soph x

    1. Oh wow, that’s awful 😩 I’m so sorry about your nan, and yes, this is exactly the kind of situation I was thinking about, and why I’d always worry about it! I know some of the people who do this will set it to only post a “❤” or whatever, but it’s still so obvious and fake 🙁

    2. Oh god. That is horrifying. But I don’t understand how people can’t think this through. Are you seriously telling me that when you started using a service like this you didn’t realise something like this might happen?

  5. I was *just* thinking about his a few minutes ago!! I can’t stand the spammy comments and the ‘follow me ‘ crap. I’m 27 not 15…Leave me alone,like The amount of blocking I end up having to do…

  6. Whilst I haven’t had lots of the same comments I am starting to notice that more and more accounts who don’t follow me are leaving random comments on my pictures – I knew that people commented to draw people to their account but hadn’t realised you could pay a company to do it for you! Me and a colleague were talking about people who pay for instagram followers the other day, it’s quite sad really and does take the fun out of it a little bit.

  7. I think you’ve summed it up perfectly here Amber: “I want to grow my Instagram, but I don’t have the time to do it myself” –

    Well, I don’t have the time to train to be an Olympic athlete, but it’s hardly fair (or ethical) to the rest of the athletes who work BLOODY HARD to get to the top of their game and do it properly if I paid to take performance-enhancing drugs, is it??! I can’t stand this culture of being given something for nothing that prevails over social media and so much of today’s society (now I sound like an old person…). Many people have no idea what sheer determination and hard work is, or can’t be bothered with it and want everything just given to them without lifting a finger.

    I could rant on and on about this topic for ages(!!) but you’ve summed up my feelings perfectly in this post… Anyone who pays for fake likes, comments and followers should be ashamed of themselves – I’m always pointing out to brands that my followers may be lower than many but they are 100% organically earned. (Though I know that many of them would be fake so that’s another problem, as you say it’s harming our own accounts through no fault of our own.) How nice to read another blogger saying they won’t pay for engagement, we need to shout more about our commitment to authenticity!!

    Catherine x

    1. YES! That’s such a great analogy, and it really describes SO much of the blogosphere right now: people want results, but they don’t want to have to put in the hard work to get them – and then they complain that those who DO put in the work are “spoiling” it for them by being “too professional”. It infuriates me – it really is such a “something for nothing” kind of culture. I do think more of us need to stand up and say, “Nope: I’m not going to do this!” Which has actually just given me an idea for a blog post… 😉

      1. OMG! “too professional!” I am not a Blogger; I am not on Instagram; I am not seeking followers. You will not understand this, but on the night of the American Grammy Awards this comment, and, indeed, your post, could not possibly be more spot on for me. BIG HUGS!!! You’ve restored my faith in humanity – – a bit, anyway.

  8. This really annoys me. I’m not sure it is so much of a ‘thing’ amongst parent bloggers but I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of these sort of automated comments. I posted a photo of my dog who had been put down the day before. The caption was a long one talking about how sad and heartbroken I felt. One of the comments was ‘great photo, come and check out my photos at @xxxx’. I lost my cool and professionalism that day and told them exactly what I thought of their comment, but, as I suspected, they never came back to reply or apologise.

    Great post!

    1. Urgh, that’s awful – and I’m so sorry about your dog 🙁 The lack of response from people is another one of the ways that all these services do is highlight you as a spammer – I’ve replied to a few of these comments now, just as an experiment, and not once has anyone responded to me: they don’t care about engagement, they just want to use you 🙁

    2. it’s a thing with all categories of bloggers. They might not use the commenting bots/scripts but they will be using bots/scripts to follow/unfollow. I could name you a handful of parent bloggers that use that method, as well as buying the majority of their following. I’m sure there’s much more it’s just I don’t especially follow many parent bloggers.

  9. I got this the other week with a throwback image I’d put the hashtag #summer on and had EXACTLY the same but with about 20 comments all saying “Loving summer” with a variety of emojis following it! I thought it was SO weird and was laughing at first about this massive coincidence until more and more came in until I realised that it was probably a paid service and traced it back to my hashtag. It’s really sad that people are doing this – I understand the want for more followers on various platforms to help you stand out, but when there are people putting genuine hard work into the platform, it’s so frustrating to see people faking it like that! I love Instagram, but also hate things like this on it!

  10. I have to agree with all of your post (and the rant at the time) 🙂 Instagram is fast becoming bots liking bots and using certain hashtags just leads to a mass of likes from random accounts who obviously are not interested in my content!

  11. Ugh Instagram is trying to be too big at the moment – what with introduction of Instagram Stories, live shows and videos. I’m getting annoyed with it as well – due to fact I keep getting a influx of ‘1000 free Instagram followers’ account following me.
    Something need to change but I doubt it will.

  12. Great post, Amber!
    Today I´ve posted a photo on my Instagram and the first comment was: “do you want more followers?” And the second: “Lovely” – is it an epidemy or what?
    Recently I also asked one blogger in how many FB groups is she in and she replied: “About 50 or 60” WHAT? What is she doing all day long? Writing “comments for comments” or giving “likes for likes”? Or has she also using one of those services you´ve mentioned above? That´s terrible!
    And I must agree with Catherine: It´s like wanting to be an Olympics winner, no matter what it costs (and doping is OK). It´s simply not fair to those who work hard and trying to write high-quality content.
    http://www.adinajustina.blogspot.ch/

    1. I know exactly which blogger you’re talking about (I saw your comment on her post!), and yes, I believe she is doing comment for comment… and also plagiarising and copying multiple other blogs, too. I have actually approached her in the past about copying from my blog (Both directly copying and pasting from it, and stealing ideas.), but it had absolutely no effect, and it really bothers me that this person is presenting herself as an expert on blogging when almost all of her content is either plagiarised or heavily “inspired” by other blogs, and many of the comments are the result of Facebook pods 🙁

  13. I try and report fake accounts, but it’s getting worse. I’m real though, promise! Makes you paranoid, especially when you look at accounts follower numbers compared to the amount of pictures they’ve posted

    1. I always report spammers, but I’m not convinced Instagram do anything about it – they DO, however, quite frequently block automated scripts from leaving comments, and they will also delete accounts they suspect of ‘suspicious’ activity (Which includes using 3rd party services, and posting thousands of comments every hour!), so as well as making people look bad, it also runs the real risk of having your account deleted!

  14. Fortunately I keep my personal account private and the spambots can’t really get to my pictures, but my hairdressing account is public and it’s so hard knowing when it’s a genuine response…

  15. Wow! See I didn’t even know how this stuff worked (but I guess I did know it existed). I’m going to find you on Instagram now. I don’t think I’m a follower yet. I can guarantee all of my 200 followers are 100% genuine. Haha!

  16. This and all kinds of follow for follow is one of my absolut pet-peeves when it comes to blogging. And I think that a lot of really small bloggers like myself don’t even dare to say anything about it because no one will be interested in our content, if we are not willing to give anything bigger (like a follow) back for every little comment de get.
    I plan to get back to blogging after a longer break, but when it comes to Instagram it starts to feel like I might as well give up on it. (For myself that is, I will forever use it to look at pretty pets and perfect flatlays.)

  17. Ahhh this is hilarious! I am a bit naive and I only recently found out that this was something that people did, a friend had to explain it to me. I mentioned how there was this one particularly famous pinup model with a bazillion followers who had been going around commenting either “LOVE” or three heart face emojis on just about everything on instagram. It was very disingenuous and obvious what she was doing and I got so sick of these comments so I blocked her profile. Then the other day I was looking through the vintage tag on instagram for new people to follow and I came across a photo of a very notorious hate symbol from WWII. Guess who commented “LOVE” on that photo?! Yep, that same pinup model who was a serial bot user. I thought it was pretty hysterical and a great lesson on why one should never use bots because you can’t control what sort of posts they will comment on. The ones who paid their bots to comment “love winter” got off easy I think 😛

    1. Oh my God, that’s SO bad 🙁 When I said in the post that you could end up “Liking’a neo-Nazi account or something, I was really hoping it would never happen, but, of course, I guess the fact is that people aren’t going to tag those photos with #nazi or #evil, are they? No, they’re going to use more ordinary words, that you’ll have every chance of your Insta bot targetting!

  18. You have to be proud that you have Real fowollers and Real readers.
    I found your blog only a couple of months ago, but I love the way you always write what you think. Just keep going and don’t let this ruining your confidence.
    PS I am agree with everything you write in this post.

  19. I too, am disheartened at the fakeness that has overtaken Instagram. My account is just for me, I post pictures of things I’m prouds of, things I think are funny, moments I want to share, views I want others to enjoy too… I don’t have many followers, and of those who do follow me, I dare say many were just hoping for a follow back. They won’t get that from me, unless I like what I see. You see I only follow users I’m interested in and accounts I enjoy. And if I don’t automatically like every picture those users post, it doesn’t mean I don’t like that particular user or picture- it generally means either Insta algorithms decided I didn’t want to see it today (how annoying it is having a programme deciding what I should see, instead of just showing me what I want to see, the pics of those I follow, grrr!), or I happen to have not had time to check my whole timeline that day, or whatever. It’s not a snub, it’s not rejection, it’s not me saying “your photos are rubbish, you are rubbish”, it’s just me not hitting a tiny button in a fleeting moment on one day in an entire lifetime.

    The advent of social media has turned us into such a needy race, we HAVE to be validated by others to feel worthy. No matter how insincere that validation is. Really?!

    Good on you for taking a stand, Amber. I regret I’m lazy, I just ignore the fake users/comments (although I will say I do report the very obvious ones).

    And whether I click that wee ❤️ or not, you know I love your Insta! 😉😘

    1. “The advent of social media has turned us into such a needy race, we HAVE to be validated by others to feel worthy. No matter how insincere that validation is. Really?!”

      This is so true – and in some ways I think it’s even worse with the comment rings, where people are having to put in actual effort (It must take SO much time to have to visit all those blogs and leave comments on them!), just to try to make themselves look popular. I mean, my 16 year-old niece wouldn’t do that – it seems so ‘high school’ somehow!

  20. I’ve been ranting about this for the last couple of days! It has made growing my instagram exhausting. Not only the fake comments and likes but also the follow to unfollow practice as well! I’m happy I am not the only one aggravated by this. Maybe the more we speak on it, the more people will realize it’s better to be genuinely engaging the gram and the practice will shift. One can hope!

    1. I really hope more people will start speaking up about it. To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about doing it, because I know SO many people who do it, but I really do feel it’s ruining social media/blogging – I just wish the people who do it could see how it makes them look!

  21. Amber,
    Real person here, who follows you and genuinely enjoys your posts and photos! I never knew these automated responses existed but I did think it was odd that everyone was leaving the same comment! Just one more thing in this world that has opened up these old eyes of mine!

  22. Why do people have to ruin things? I don’t blog but I’d rather read comments on instagram that were actually saying something.

    And the point you mentioned about photos not representing real life, good! I have enough crappy photos on my phone. Yesterday I took a photo of a USB stick to let my partner know he’d put it through the wash, a terrible selfie of me running, and a photo of new leggings to see how well they reflect the light. I want people to take the trouble to show pretty perfect photos online.

    1. Haha, I once sent my husband a photo of an empty loo roll he thought he’d hidden in the bathroom, rather than putting in the bin – definitely one for Instagram!

  23. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here! I also hate how cynical it’s made me – any time I get a 2 word comment from someone I don’t recognise on instagram I automatically assume it’s one of those bots. Then I feel guilty about not responding in case it actually was a genuine comment!

    1. I’m exactly the same – I worry that I’m ignoring people who are genuine, and I know that sometimes there’s just not a lot you can say other than “nice dress,” or “cute dog,” or whatever, but it’s hard not to be cynical about it!

  24. Hi Amber,
    I’m a real person who loves your style and your adorable dog. I’ve been reading your blog for several years. When I found you (after a Google search on lipsticks) I even went back and read every post! Your blog is one of 4 that I subscribe to. I am not on social media of any kind and have nothing to gain from commenting. But I want you to know, I do listen to you and even now shop at Boden and several other stores because of you. You have recommended shampoos, makeup, shoes, clothes, and purses that i’ve just had to have. I love the pictures of your house (especially your dreamy closet), your precious Rubin, and your vacations. All of that to say, I am probably not the kind of follower who comes to mind when you think of growing your blog, and I may not comment every time, but I am here and I do enjoy reading every post.

    1. Aww, thank you, and seriously, you are EXACTLY the kind of reader I want to have – the people who actually read what I have to say, and have a genuine interest in it are worth 1,000 of the people who comment on every single post purely to try and drive traffic to their own blogs – trust me on this!

  25. I don’t even know where to start, there is so much fakeness going on. Instagram is absolutely flooded with fake accounts, bots and god knows what else yet they seem not to bother. Similarly with twitter, off on a slight tangent, but for some reason twitteraudit doesn’t seem to work properly with some obviously fake accounts now. There’s a blogger buying followers on both her twitter and IG ( and probably Facebook too) and twitteraudit is coming u with 98% real. A quick glance through her followers though shows 100s of eggs and other spam accounts. She’s swearing blind she’s not doing it.

    It’s not even a small amount of bloggers doing it, people you’d not otherwise suspect are doing it (large and small) which doesn’t make for a very trusting environment. I do worry that non-bloggers/readers will just end up getting pissed off with all of us, and you know I wouldn’t blame them. It looks like we’re covering up too despite the ramifications of outing others. Ah what a shitfest.

  26. It wasn’t until your Instagram post with the “love winter” comments that I even realised people did this! I have a craft Instagram account with only a small following (around the 390 mark at the moment, but every time I gain a follower or two I seem to lose one – it seems that this is all part of the follow/unfollow thing which I don’t really get! I was wondering why people liked my crafty nonsense enough to follow one day, and then stopped liking it. What changed?! It seems there is all this going on behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of!) Now that you bring it up, I have had the odd ‘love this’ comment I think – I just thought they were genuine comments, though. It didn’t occur to me that there were bots out there!
    I hate fakeness. I don’t care how many extra followers it gets you, it’s not worth selling your soul for. It’s insincere and cold. A genuine comment is always welcomed, but nobody wants a fake meaningless one. It would be a shame for it to ruin Instagram, though, as there is a lot of lovely inspiration and pretty pictures out there from decent people. I’m not going to let it put me off (and I think maybe I don’t have enough followers to be on the receiving end of too much of it maybe? I’m guessing the scripts target popular accounts… but what do I know?!)
    Thanks for a interesting post. Maria

  27. Whoa- I had no idea such companies or practices existed. That *is* sad. Of course, now I feel self conscious about any comments I leave. I don’t normally comment all that much but sometimes I viewed comment is essentially an extra “like,” even if all I’m saying is “cute outfit.” Might have to rethink that…. :/

    Also- I follow your Instagram and love all the photos you post 🙂

  28. The Instagram fakery is just another face of the numbers game. Bloggers obsessed with numbers and attracting the attention of brands would do anything to get ahead in the game. It used to really irk me that most blogs nowadays seem to be conceived as future marketing machines churning lists and insincere always-positive content, but, I guess, considering the world we live in, this is one way to do things. That’s a shame, but it is how it is. After feeling down for quite a while for not being able to attract the right numbers, I realised that blogging fulfills a different need for me, i.e. the need to write and express myself and my thoughts creatively and this is the most important thing for me. I stopped posting on Instagram long time ago, as it really bored me with all those perfect pictures. Thank you for writing this blog post and expressing your opinion on the matter.

  29. This issue is so frustrating to me!! I honestly had no idea about fake comments at first, and now I find myself questioning every comment and wondering if they are legit. I feel weird responding to weirdly vague and general ones, so I’ve started just ignoring them. Maybe I should delete them too! I guess it’s no different than weird comments on my blog, if it doesn’t specifically reference the blog post, I’ve been assuming it’s spam. It can be discouraging for sure since falseness and a lack of authenticity is by biggest pet peeve! I still enjoy instagram though for my favorite people I follow, but it super lame that this is even a problem!!

  30. I absolutely hate seeing comments on my photos which aren’t genuine – your photos are great by the way. A comment saying ‘Nice pic’ or with just an emoji infuriates me but I find it very easy to spot if it’s genuine or not. Bought followers is another thing that irritates me, I would hope that it’s easy to spot – follower to post and following ratio etc – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a) these ‘services’ exist and that b) people think they can get away with it!

    Great post!

    Hollie | ItsHollieAnn.com

  31. Amber, another real person chiming in. Maine, USA is loads of fun in winter – – if you are healthy and have money. Having not enough of either, your blog is a fantastic bright spot in my day. I would decorate much as you do, dress similarly, and your photos of coffee (? hot chocolate? lattés?) have done wonders for the local Starbucks, and two local coffee & pastry shops. I take your recommendations for products seriously, and will be purchasing the sunblock you mentioned. If I used more make-up, same. You have also boosted Scottish tourism if I ever get crazy with my credit cards! So, YES! Definitely! Spambots suck and real people, just like real friendships, are better. (Don’t want this to sound too creepy.) Thanks for being you.

  32. I completely agree with this post. Instagram has always been my favorite social media platform, but the past few months (and longer probably) I have been getting so many fake followers and spam. So I’ve started posting less frequently. The other day I posted once and lost about 50 followers over night. I’m assuming they were all spam so I was glad to see them go!
    All of the fakeness takes the fun out of the platform.

    http://www.justbeingbrooklyn.com

  33. You just gained a REAL HUMAN being as a new follower – me 🙂 You absolutely NAILED IT with this post – I can relate to almost everything and absolutely share your point of view. The only question here is how this will turn out eventually. Change is much needed, but I don’t really see one.

    x Gitta // http://www.gittawitzel.com

  34. Oh my, Amber, You’re so right! Everyone is screaming out there how important it is to have huge (my autocorrect says hugs. It would have more sense I guess) following. I think that people don’t really know what they’re doing and want to succeed so they pay for those services as growing organically is pretty damn time-consuming. At least I want to believe this is the case and they are doing this without realising how bad it is.

    It bothers me too, everytime I post something on instagram I get a lot of those comments too, and really, what’s the point in doing that?

    Soon instagram will be a place for bloggers and brands to post fake photos for fake audiences.

    I can see how people crave normal and imperfect human interaction – I can see how those people that don’t shy away from less then perfect photos (and maybe not zits, but just normal life) are getting better quality interaction. I think I would prefer that and small following than a huge empty one.

    Sorry if my comment makes no sense, but your post is so true and moved me my thoughts are going at least 100009 times faster than my fingers 😉

  35. Gosh. I knew that this was happening, and I recognised some obviously fake comments, like the old “Nice pic” “Nice profile” ones, but I didn’t realise how widespread it was and that legitimate accounts were really considering this a serious tactic. That seems pretty sad to me. It’s interesting, because I mostly post pictures of my creations, and often get comments that are just “Beautiful!” or the face with heart eyes, but these often come from regular commenters and followers who at other times comment in ways that are clearly real and responding to my questions or comments. And I often leave comments like that too, so even when they came from people I didn’t know, I didn’t suspect them of being spam! I think I might have to work on my commenting to make sure people don’t think I’m a bot!

    Your comments on the motivation behind it are interesting too. I feel that as a maker, I have a small following, but I know a lot of regular commenters and a good number of them are actual customers. It’s such a different world when you are making money from brands, and brands want numbers. Do you think some brands will get savvy and avoid the bloggers who clearly don’t have a serious loyal following?

  36. Really glad to see you calling this out, Amber! Like everyone else, I’m just as sick of the bot one/two word samey comments on my posts too, even though it doesn’t seem to have hit me too hard… Yet. It’s still annoying every time I see one, regardless! Great, on-the-money post as usual 🙂

  37. I didn’t know about people actually having bots “engage” for them. That’s so weird. What exactly is the point of social media if you’re not going to use it to socialize and engage with other people? You’re right – it’s all become a big show of who has bigger and higher numbers and who can command more money from brands. Every time I get new followers, I check their follower count vs. their engagement levels and am super wary, and that was just knowing about the whole follow then unfollow tactics people use. It’s so ridiculous! I feel like Instagram is a joke, and even though I enjoy it, I really have no hopes for it. Blogging is supposed to be interactive and engaging, but how can you possibly build relationships with people through this fake..everything!

  38. Frankly I think you are too kind deleting the bot comments on your picture as a courtesy to those accounts using them! I know it only takes a few seconds of your time but why should you waste your time cleaning up your social media when they can’t be bothered to use theirs to engage properly and fairly with others! A good egg amongst the sea of fakery 🙂

    I’ve never had a raft of comments all the same but I can always tell when comments are not genuine and it drives me nuts when massive accounts with tens of thousands of followers follow me for a day, unfollow, re-follow, unfollow… I’m not going to follow you, get the message. Oh and I block them for using bot services.

    I don’t link my blog to my IG and it’s slow progress, plus it’s not monetised so it’s not a priority but since I went back to work in April 2015 with 120 followers I now have 1040 on IG. I enjoy using it each day, interacting with people all over the UK (and elsewhere), seeing what people are up to etc. That’s why I use it and can spot the fakery a mile off!

  39. I see so many people using these bots and the other thing that drive me crazy in the constant follow / unfollow on Instagram. People who seem to want these high follower counts gained by any desperate means necessary will not be increasing the actual popularity of their blog. Surely the point of blogging is to engage emotionally with the blogger, love their work and what they write about. This cannot be achieved by fake bots all it achieves is some over inflated follower count that amounts to absolutely nothing.

    1. The point of blogging for some is what you mentioned. For most it’s making money. Their livelihood. Social media is about brands getting people to find them so they can sell product or get you to do something for them. It’s all about $$ and profit.

  40. 100% agree with your post, and intend to make my way through all the comments. This is something that drives me nuts, & when I know that someone I follow on Instagram uses this, it kind of ruins the experience for me & I end up unfollowing them. Not a blogger myself, & I use Instagram purely for social/entertainment reasons (so, staying in touch with family & friends, staying up-to-date with brands I like, & also following accounts that I think produce beautiful content).

    Because my account is public, every once in a while I will get a comment/add-request from an account that isn’t even trying to hide the fact that it’s one of these automated following/commenting/liking services. Every single time I see one, I make sure to report it. Don’t know how much a difference that makes, but I figure if several people report that same account, Instagram is more likely to delete it. Same goes for any spam-sounding comments I see.

    I know this sounds like a lot of work for some, especially when you just want to be able to use your social media platforms without being bothered. I do, however, think it’s important that we make use of what resources are available to us to help police the use of these platforms – it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to use great platforms like Instagram for free.

  41. I was going to write something similar about Instagram and Twitter, it really annoys me. I also hate them when they add you to unfollow as soon as you add them – grrr x

  42. We all use little tricks to get followers/likes (hashtags, obviously) but I CANNOT stand this bot-type method of using IG now. Don’t auto-follow and unfollow accounts. Don’t pay for followers. Do not use whatever weird-ass system you described here when your account just leaves weird rando comments on people’s pics! I hate when I post a photo and get a comment from someone that says something generic like, “love your content!” MAKE IT STOP.

  43. Have you watched the most recent season of Black Mirror? I’m guessing you have, because what you’re describing in this post reminds me so much of the Nosedive episode (complete with coffee photo!), where life is solely about the number of views and the endless pursuit of positive ratings with almost no attention paid to actual quality.

  44. Honestly, the rise in fake comments makes it even harder to leave real comments. Let’s be honest. Not every beautiful photo on Instagram includes a thought-provoking caption. A year ago, I could just write “Love this!” or “Gorgeous shot!” or “So pretty!” on a photo and move on. Or yes, I totally would use my favorite emoji (the heart eyes) 3x in a row as a comment. And I never worried about it being fake because I was being sincere.

    Now, however, I still want to comment on pretty photos with nonexistent captions. Except to do that, I have to make my comment clear that I’m a real person. Flowers are my go-to, so luckily there are tons of flower emojis to personalize my short compliment. But on stunning photography of buildings or landscapes, what do I write? It’s not the photo subject I want to compliment, but the artistic vision of the photographer. “Great artistic vision” sounds a little pretentious for an Instagram comment.

    1. I struggle with this too, and the only thing I’ve found that ”works” is pointing out something specific about the photo. ”Love the contrast between the red and green.” ”Love the way you framed this skyline” etc already seems a lot more sincere.

  45. I’ve been saddened by things like this before too, but oddly in a slightly different way – ocasionally I get a like from a big blogger which makes me very happy indeed – until I look through their recent likes and see that ever so predictable pattern that suggests that it was from a bot rather than from them afterall 🙁

    Nicola // pink-confetti.co.uk

    1. The follow/unfollow technique seems to be so widespread now that a lot of people just accept that it’s what you do to get followers, sadly. It’s really odd that they think no one will notice what they’re up to, though!

      1. When I was new to Instagram, one of my fav brands followed/unfollowed me. I wrote them this hysterical message about how I’d been buying their products for years and how I expected genuine engagement from them not games and how this shady practice was CLEARLY going to damage their brand.

        Weirdly, they followed me again. (Probably blocked at the same time. But seems there was a human there.)

        That was back when I was a lot less jaded by the whole thing. For exactly the reasons you’ve nailed in this post.

  46. It seems so ridiculous to me that people haven’t figured out yet that this isn’t a good idea. But sadly I have been noticing an increase on random comments like “Love your gallery” (who calls an Instagram feed a gallery?!) “great pictures” that read so general and insincere that I just ignore them. It’s too bad really.

  47. This is something I’ve been silently raging about for a while now. I’ve been approached by multiple companies, multiple times (one guy even started harassing me until I gave him a reply!!) offering such services- but I just can’t do it. It has and always will be a no no. Building a brand, I want to know that I got to the top on my own- not by letting someone else do the work for me. Where’s the achievement in that? Like you, I can understand the motive for using these services, but I feel disappointed that more people haven’t said no to them. Anyway- GREAT post, thanks for writing it! Someone had to! x

  48. Amen! Finally somebody – or better yet: a big and influential blogger like you which makes a huge difference in spreading the message – is addressing this. Thank you, Amber! The issue has been bugging me for ages and I felt somewhat alone in my frustration.
    The old saying that nothing worthwhile comes easily is true in the age of social media still. Only some people apparently are too impatient or simply don’t want to invest at least some of the work and authenticity needed to grow their accounts. Social media is – duh! – about being social. About personal connections and as far as I know robots aren’t embodying social or emotional traits yet. Sad to see non-social strategies take over social media and many people seeking happiness and a source of self-worth in numbers.

  49. Good post, and these comments drive me BONKERS. So often I just get one emoji, or ”cool profile” ”love this post!” or something else generic, and I just know that it’s insincere. I grow my Instagram organically and although I don’t have a ton of followers, I’m proud (lack of better word) of doing it that way, because at least I’m honest.

    The follow/unfollow technique is also very common. People will follow me one day and the next they have unfollowed me. Over and over again.

  50. I hate this too and I especially hate when it’s local companies who use the scripts to comment on photos that are geotagged in their area. It’s so obvious to me that it’s not genuine and it definitely doesn’t make me want to give them my business. Companies can use Instagram for a lot of good, but that is one of the more annoying uses, in my opinion.

  51. I don’t blog, but I don’t get why any blogger would do this – surely it’s better to have actual real-life engaged followers, like your blog does? It’s one of the things I like best about your blog!

    This is slightly different, but I thought of it when I was reading your post. I think you might have talked about it before. I was reading an article by a lady who was complaining about ‘Mom-bloggers’ and how unrealistic and unattainable they are. I had to scratch my head, I don’t know about anyone else but I follow bloggers because I like their pictures or how they write. I don’t follow them to see piles of dirty laundry or kids having tantrums! I get enough of ‘real’ life at home thanks. I certainly don’t think the Mom-bloggers’ lives are all perfect. And I certainly don’t begrudge them for making money by blogging about products. I’ve seen from you how much work actually goes into planning and writing your posts, so I certainly don’t think they are getting money for nothing! And just because they’re not documenting every single detail of their life doesn’t mean they are ‘fake’. The article I read sounded a bit like sour grapes to me! I don’t know what you think?

      1. OK, now I’m just embarrassed… I knew I had read it sometime on your blog, but came back to comment without checking your post again first! Serves me right for being in too much of a hurry :/

  52. Thanks, Amber. I really needed this post today! As a newbie blogger, I’ve actually been tempted to check out one of these “automation” services. But then I realize how infuriated I feel when people use them on me.

    The best (worst?) story I’ve heard was about a woman who posted this really raw pic of a surgical procedure on her breast. (I think she was trying to encourage people to get their mammos.)

    The bot’s comment was, SO CUTE! (Heart-eyes, heart-eyes.) Go figure.

  53. I love that as soon as I started to read your “follow me on instagram” pop-up appeared. I honestly have no idea why so many people rate Instagram so highly. Lots of pretty pictures and very little else. At least Pinterest functions as a visual search engine. I think if I see another duck-face selfie or one of those staged follow-me travel posts I’ll go nuts. I think we all know it’s fake but at least it’s not as gormless as Snapchat.

    1. “Lots of pretty pictures and very little else.” Tbh this describes exactly what I *like* about instagram – sometimes you just want to look at pretty pictures!

  54. I feel this. Lately I’ve joined more blogger engagement groups but any time I’ve ever tried to actively engage on threads – my stuff gets lost because there are SO MANY PEOPLE in the thread. It fizzled my interest out and I just decided to go back to my way of doing things – slowly growing my audience and engaging with people who aren’t “niche bloggers” but normal people who take the time to comment or reach out to me. It can get pretty disheartening sometimes but I remind myself that I’m not doing this to gain ~*instagram popularity or whatever, and that hopefully that separates me and allows people to see my authentic self in a sea of bots. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  55. I have had a number of awkward comments like that pop up in my comments section. It can get very awkward when you post a pic looking back at a sad memory and get “love this”. Ok then. My Instagram is growing super duper slow but I am 100% fine with that. At least I know that most people there are genuinely following, liking and commenting on my photos. There is little engagement sometimes, but that’s because nowadays we try to follow so many people that hundreds/thousands of accounts simply get lost in the feed.
    I remember when I started blogging, the first time I came across the “fakeness” was when I spotted this girl leaving the same comment on many different blogs, including mine. Since then, when I get “love this post” (or “love this” on IG), I just delete it or don’t reply to it. Why would I waste my time if they haven’t invested theirs?
    The scary part is actually brands wanting to work with these “big bloggers with big following”. Thousands of those followers are fake. But certain brands don’t seem to notice or care. Frustrating stuff.
    Sorry about this rant of a comment, girl. Btw, love your cozy knit sweater 🙂 Must pop into Matalan to have a look-see 😉
    xox Nadia
    http://www.mielandmint.com

  56. I’ve started to get a lot of these ‘spam’ comments lately. I feel like my Instagram is soooo behind every one else and it can be a genuine struggle to build a legit following. The plus side is, my followers are genuinely interested in my content, but as you’ve said, people don’t tend to care about that anymore, especially from a business perspective. I really do feel your pain!

  57. I’ve felt the same, but what’s really frustrating is people like me who do leave genuine comments (but short ones at that) are mistaken for bots. Which is a major bummer, but I’m lucky I have a lot of genuine interactions on my Insta and if I notice there are bots. I usually just block when they spam my comments. My boyfriend gets a lot of those faker comments and it’s usually “that’s cute” or “so pretty” on like a political meme. Which is really random and out of place. 😁😁😁😁

  58. Amber, I’ve been following your blogs for years but don’t usually comment. I got put off commenting on blogs a few years back when everything started requiring you to link comments up to Facebook/twitter/your NI number/your mother’s maiden name. I’ve just realised that your blog is actually super easy to comment on, and am now resisting the urge to post a massive stream of all of my thoughts on every post of yours I’ve read 😂
    Anyway, to keep on topic, just wanted to say one of the things I love about your blogs is that you have managed to create real engagement and as a result, I enjoy reading the comment sections as well as the posts themselves. I think a thoughtful and engaged comment section really reflects on the quality of the content ATL.

  59. Recently in January I wrote a pretty similar post to this one on my blog (it’s here, if you want to give it a read). It wasn’t until I see the response to that one and read your post here that I realise that I may not be the only one to think like that. I totally feel you! I’m not sure about other bloggers but I definitely ignore most comments on my posts where I think they didn’t even look at the photo before commenting. What irks me more are the people who say a one-word generic comment like “nice” or “chic” or whathaveyou and has the nerve to ask for a follow.
    Let us be more sincere on social media and prioritise connection to statistics!

    Alive as Always

  60. It truly makes me sad that obviously we as a society have become so rushed and eager to get validating comments on everything, that we cannot accept “I have a life apart from the internet” as a legitimate reason for not immediately commenting on something.
    I do not work from home, and while I have internet access at work, my priorities are of course elsewhere. (After all my boss doesn’t pay me for surfing the web all day long.) I have hobbies that require me to be physically present without an electronic device in front of my nose. Not too long ago that kind of life was the norm.
    Now people actually pay for these services, because their real life got in the way of theír virtual life, and they cannot read and comment fast enough? Hello? How pathetic is that??!!!
    I understand that in this time of mobile communication and various instand messaging options our expectations have changed. You no longer have to wait days for a letter to be delivered, so it’s tempting to think that the response will be there just as fast. And that just because a blog posting is there, it has to and will be read immediately.
    People, calm down! Take your time, don’t let yourselves be pressured. Enjoy all the possibilities of modern communication, but don’t bow down to them.
    The sooner we have the “bots liking/commenting on bots” situation on social media, the sooner Skynet will take over… 😉

  61. So aptly put! I started blogging just about a month ago and pretty new to instagram as well. When we hit the first 500 followers, that felt like a huge accomplishment to us. Right now we are stuck at about 650 followers and the funny thing is every day people add us and then the next morning they unfollow just because we did not follow them back or they unfollow you once we follow them, so their follower count goes up without their following count rising! Well here is the thing, I am not going to follow you unless i like what i see and more often than not i do follow a lot of my followers because i like their feed. It bothered me for a day or two that our followers are not increasing but now i am happy that the people who stick around and genuinely like what you post are who matter. After all the reason we started our blog was to help people who want more information about the destinations we travel to. Our blog focuses on things to see and local delicacies in each of our destination.

    And then comes those annoying two word comments. I might be guilty to leaving a few comments like that but then it just felt fake to me. Like you mentioned, This whole instagram thing feels so fake. I have been here just for about a month and this feels so wrong. I totally feel the same way as you.

    Vrithi Pushkar
    http://www.epicuriouspassport.com

  62. I have a confession to make: I got sucked into the “buying likes on Instagram is just a way to get people to notice you” trap/excuse (yes, I bought likes). Please don’t excommunicate me from your blog! The thing is, I’ve been feeling uneasy about it for a while, but justified it to myself just like you talked about. I do make a point of only posting obviously real comments because automated commenting is just…gross. I mostly decided to do the automated likes because a) I find it exhausting to be on social media so much and b) the pressure to have people notice what I’m doing (I’m an artist)

    This post kicked me up the bum a little bit, so I deleted the fake bot thing. Thanks for giving me permission to ignore the popular wisdom 🙂

    Also, I was reading this post from a guy whose newsletter I subscribe to (and who is also very passionate about being real with people). It struck me as funny (amusing), because it’s a spoof of the traditional digital product sales page, with all the bonuses and the calls to action. It’s also funny (coincidental) because I happened to read both your post and his on the same day. Here’s the link if you want to read it (it really is quite amusing, although I know leaving a link makes me also look a bit spammy…but I promise I have nothing to gain from sharing this with you!) https://jasondoesstuff.com/cheat-sheet/

  63. I think the only way this will stop is if Instagram steps up and shuts down these accounts that use these services and are generally spammy. I know Instagram did that periodically but I haven’t heard of a clean-up in sometime. I know you have touched upon this aspect of the situation but I think Instagram needs to step up big time or is going to lose out to spam just like Twitter. Genuine users will just move to another platform. There needs to be controls in place – stop people from liking more than a set number of pictures and comment on more than a limited number of times per day. If you output is limited maybe people will start caring a little more about quality. Is it only me or is everything getting messed up on Instagram after Facebook took over?

  64. Real comment from real person 🙂 I agree 100% with everything you say. I have a large following on Instagram, which I built in time, and before the algorithm. I was a suggested user twice, which boosted my followers a lot, but I kept growing because I believe in community, care about the quality of my images, and use Instagram as a way to push myself to grow as an artist and create. Since the algorithm my growth is much slower, and I have started to see all the bots – on average, every day I gain 100 followers and lose 70-80, which is all down to bots as you say. And I do get some odd comments like you do – clearly fake.
    I still have a great relationship with my community though, probably because I don’t think of them just as numbers – in fact I try to answer as many comments as possible, and encourage others to stay creative…but Instagram is no longer what it was, and it’s losing its appeal more and more for this reason, I’m afraid. Shame, and sad.

  65. Can I just say I disagree whole heartedly with the paying for followers/likes thing. I don’t get it. It’s like posting a Pinterest photo and getting a 1,000 likes, where’s the pleasure in that? But it would have been nice to mention in your blog that there are actually genuine people on insta who just have a lot of followers. I have nearly 30k followers, I’ve posted less than 300 posts, get an average of 2,000 likes per post and have been on insta for only a year. I don’t write a blog. I’ve never had any of these odd comments you mention. I don’t know why or how I’ve done so well, but I do spend time taking nice photos. So please, please don’t all assume us with a large following are cheating. I’m just as genuine in real life as I am on insta.

    1. I think you’ve taken this post a bit personally for some reason: at no point did I say that everyone with a large following is like this: that’s an assumption *you’re* making. That’s great that you’re doing so well and have never experienced any of the negative sides of Instagram, but it doesn’t mean those of us who do aren’t allowed to talk about it – the post wasn’t about *you*.

        1. Yes I am: you came onto my blog trying to scold me for something I didn’t actually say and apparently taking a post that wasn’t about you personally: how is that sour grapes?

  66. I’m SO with you! The automated script services suck and are definitely making IG less authentic and fun, but I’d also blame Instagram’s new algorithm. People are fighting to be heard with those services b/c IG really messed their app up with the new algorithm; I have less likes/comments than I did 6 months ago and yet my follower count is up. The app should just be chronological like it used to and it’s so hard to reach the audience you already have, let alone new people, with the way Instagram set it up. I think there’s only going to be more of this problem–buying likes and comments–until the algorithm is adjusted (if ever).

  67. I really enjoyed reading this post! I love instagram, but lately I have to admit it’s been getting me down (and not just because of the algorithm). I feel quite naive as I hadn’t realised how many automated services people are starting to use; I couldn’t understand why some accounts repeatedly follow me, drop me off, follow me again…over and over…and why other accounts simply put a ‘thumbs up’ emoji on my pics. Now all is clear! I feel lucky in that I have made great connections over instagram, and people still make the time for genuine comments etc, but it does feel like this platform is becoming less authentic. I would never be tempted to use those kinds of services, and it is frustrating to be constantly targeted by them, but in the end I feel nothing beats *real* engagement, so I’m putting my faith in a ‘slow but sure’ attitude to instagram growth. I can understand why people want to find short-cuts, but ultimately I hope instagram sorts itself out and finds a way to cut down on these problems. xxx

  68. I recently posted a rant on my Instagram about spam comments as I was getting a lot “want followers? Check my page!” It seems to have only recently become a problem for me and it was just ruining the whole experience. My account is now set up so that it automatically deletes those comments.

    BUT, this post has made me think about something else. Sometimes I do happen to post a minimalist “Love this!” Wth an emoji comment. I’ve realised now, having read your blog post here, that some people might think I’m a spammer for doing that. I’ve no doubt left such comments on your photos at some point, and I would be horrified if you, or anyone else, thought I was a fake. So, lesson learned – take the time to write a more meaningful comment in future. It might even explain me having lost a few followers recently.

    I have fewer than 100 followers on Instagram and that’s after about 9 months. But I’d rather have that and grow my follower base by natural means rather than fake it. Besides, who knows what might happen after you hand over your account details to someone you’ll never even meet in real life?

    1. And in addition, I hope that, in spite of this, you’ll stick around, as I for one enjoy your posts and there are genuine people out there. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

  69. In a much shorter version I have literally ranted about the same issues on my blog this week. And tweeted at Instagram how they are making it impossible for honest people to use it…

  70. What an interesting read! I’ve noticed an increase in replies on my IG account that have “cookie cutter” responses. I typically just delete those responses immediately, unless the person actually followed me and appears to have a legit account.

    I find Instagram to be a hard place to navigate in terms of using it as a marketing powerhouse for my blog. I love looking at beautiful pictures and inspirational images from bloggers on the platform, as well as posting pictures related to my family life and journey as a mompreneur, but the “fake love” is really off-putting. Nice to know I’m not the only one that has been thinking this.

    P.S. I say “Love This!” with little hearts all the time on posts I love lol. I guess I better switch that up so it’s less bot-like 😉

  71. I’m so glad you’ve spoken up about this Amber – I am so sick of all of the “want more followers?” posts appearing seconds after I post something. I personally have about 150 followers on Instagram and probably 40% of them are people I know, but I would never try to buy followers because it’s so much nicer when someone you don’t know follows you because they’re genuinely interested in what you’re posting. I’d rather have 150 genuine followers than 2,000 bots any day! Heather xx

  72. You wrote what I’ve been thinking for a while now. I find Instagram incredibly difficult to grow, especially if we don’t have the time to respond to all the comments and engage with other people’s posts three times a day. A while back I tested my theory and liked and commented on photos every two hours. My following grew by almost a 100 (which for me is huge!). But then on the days when work takes over and I’m too exhausted to do anything in the evening, there’s a massive drop in followers. So, on one hand (even though it makes me incredibly angry!) I understand why people pay for these services. Despite struggling to grow, I’de never resort to this myself, mostly because of Instagram algorithms which then only show me photos from those particular people that were on the receiving end of the rubbish automated comments.

    What is worrying is what you said though. If you get these generic comments, does it look like you’re the one buying followers. This has potential for ruining your reputation as well as any possible collaboration with brands who stumble upon these comments and think you’re not genuine and not a good rep of their image.

    I noticed a huge surge in fake accounts recently that post a comment on your image saying “Check My Page” or “Want Followers” (ironic when they have none or up to 5 only). I’ve been so busy blocking these accounts in the last couple of weeks that I ran out of time to engage with genuine followers.

    On a happier note, I’m glad you wrote about these issues. I’m sure we’re all thinking the same, but only end up shrugging and moving on.

    Maya | londondamsel.co.uk

  73. One of the reasons I don’t have more followers on Instagram is because I refuse to press like on something I don’t actually like. I also don’t react to comments that are obviously fake. I will admit that I post heart comments but only when I actually follow the specific account. I also only follow accounts that I like. At the end of the day, I know it’s not a way to make money, but I want to keep my integrity. I want the accounts I like to be representative of what I actually like. And when people see which photos I liked I don’t want them to see some random poorly taken picture that was obviously just liked for getting followers.

  74. I have been experiencing Instagram spambots a lot lately myself. Not even two seconds has gone by after I have posted a photo and I get the very popular “Want more followers? Follow my link!” Actually, I don’t want MORE followers. I just want more QUALITY followers (i.e. those who actually want to “like” and comment on my photos). Instagram is a great social media platform to interact with others, but sadly, the only one that hasn’t been able to prevent or control spam content from impeding the overall User Experience.

  75. Using automated Instagram services for commenting is really risky. I saw someone post a sad/depressing Instagram picture but underneath someone had posted “Great shot!”, which was just inappropriate. These services basically allow brands/instagrammers to enter a generic comment that will then be posted to Instagram photos that have certain hash tags. I think so many people have seen how people are making money based on having 1,000s of followers, so they’ll happily buy them. It’s important to look at engagement and not at the follower stats.

  76. A great article that confirmed my suspicions….everything’s so fake now, it’s annoying. I posted something about animal cruelty and farming and meat accounts “liked” it. I have an instagram for my pet bunny and I use her cuteness to spread awareness on proper rabbit care and animal cruelty. I see hundreds of other bunny accounts just trying to gain more followers and likes. I see accounts with shitty low quality pictures with followers in the thousands. The obviousness of the forced following makes it look ridiculous. Look I don’t care if my following count is low as long as its genuine and the followers really want to follow me. All this fakeness is just a reflection of the sad state of society’s values today. Whatever happened to earning success the authentic way?

  77. The most hilarious example of this on my account: I posted a painting of a naked old lady to advertise an art history post on my blog – I got this comment: ‘We had to stop by when we saw this. Your picture looks great, tbh. Give us a follow if you appreciate a well dressed gentleman ;)’ …. Hahaha clearly using some ‘boob’ algorithm!? Ridiculous.

  78. Really thought I was going crazy noticing the spam. Glad I’m not the only one. Social media sucks anymore. And I do this for a living (it’s my day job for a nonprofit). It used to be exciting to see what would attract engagement. Now you can’t get engagement unless you advertise, ie pay money. On Facebook they are actually making you pay to get your own followers to see your posts… I hope insta finds a way to stop the bots soon. Since they are owned by FB I unfortunately don’t think it’s going to get much better.

  79. Hey Amber! I just came across your blog and your blogging tips and I really enjoy reading your post! I think you’re so right with what you say about Insta and I do feel the same way about all the fairness it comes with. The thing that’s really depressing sometimes is that you try to grow organically and want people to see that you are worth following but it seems almost impossible to manage with all those people buying Followers or using Insta bots and reaching 3x as much people as you would. Thank you for this post and sharing that feeling.

    Cheers from Germany,
    Sarah

    http://lostandlayers.com

  80. I literally just posted a solid black image with no caption and with my usual hashtags. I usually average about 50 to 60 likes on real images but I got about 50 likes on this blank image. Not sure I trust any of my likes to be real now except for the people I know personally. ☹️

  81. Finally the words to what I was thinking! I comment on a lot of photos, only because makeup is my passion and I love almost every single look I see! It scares me now, I am also starting to grow my instagram and the amount of people who follow/unfollow me is ridiculous! Hope it doesn’t get worse…

  82. I was seriously thinking about that this morning. I will admit I have been apart of comment pods and facebook groups, but I quickly realized what it was causing. Comments by people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in my content if there weren’t rules in place stating they need to comment back. I now focus on being real

  83. Thanks for posting this! I work hard to keep engaged with my followers. They support me with real comments, so I do the same for them! I have 1400 followers, and generally get 500 likes and 50-100 comments per photo. My account is a couple months old.

    I find it frustrating when I see countless accounts with 100,000 followers, and 3-4 comments. Yet, people are amazed at their follower count and drawn to their gallery even though the entire thing is a cheap facade! No engagement, no real people!

    Anyways, if you are into ancient architecture, exotic countries, and commenting with other real followers, please drop by!
    Graysdir Travels

  84. Thank you for spelling out exactly what I was thinking. I found this post when I searched on Google for: “does literally everyone use Instagram bots?”

    I have an account that I use to take pictures and share stories around my favorite part of the day: coffee. My pictures are pretty good (DSLR + Lightroom), I pre-plan my feed to make sure it looks good from the profile view, I’m getting better at hashtags, and I follow accounts that I aspire to be like – and regularly, genuinely engage with their photos. Plus, I spend a few minutes multiple times a day liking other photos that use the same hashtags as me.

    I have less than 1000 followers and have been looking for ways to grow my account. It’s just for fun, but it always feels good when people pay attention to you, right?

    I started researching Instagram growth strategies, and bots kept coming up. I saw that you could view the recent activity of people you follow to see if they use bots. I was kind of horrified to see a lot of my favorite accounts doing this.

    It may be an effective strategy for gaining followers, and it’s hard to blame people for using what works. But it’s not for me.

  85. Because I have the assumption that many people are suspicious of fake comments on Instagram, I always try to respond in a way to make my response authentic. In your case it would be “love the white sweater”. When I comment on someone’s post who I don’t follow I don’t want them to think it’s fake because all my comments are genuine. I’m also suspicious of the comments like “nice content” or “cool pic”. I’m hoping someone will make a website “outing” the fake comments. People could send their instagram posts with a “weird” comment they received. Like someone posting a pic of their crashed car and someone commenting “nice pic” or “great content”. I’m sure we’ll have a blast!

  86. This is so true. I’m launching a blog, and spending so much time and energy on social media ,taking so much time on each post.

    I hate that half my interaction is with bots. I hate all the fakeness and bots when I invest so much of my time and get so much less interaction then ppl who just hand over some greens. I know it’s fake, but it still feels so annoying.

  87. Great read! Thank you. I’ve been grappling with this in South Africa too. I am a blogger but also a PR consultant and trying to distinguish between “ethical” and “bleggers” bloggers and influencers for campaigns are becoming more and more difficult.

  88. Love this post Amber. Thank you for sharing! I recently started my own travel blog and its so difficult to get a genuine following & engagement. Its sad that there are people out there, including brands, that do not care if they are being authentic or not. Thank you for this article. This motivates me even further to work hard for my brand!

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