ByDecember 14, 2016 13 Comments

As you know, every week we post a recap video of the latest news and stories from Instagram. Here’s this week’s if you didn’t catch it:

The theme this week was all about Instagram’s latest comments updates, and the fact that you can now like other users’ comments and even turn comments off on your own posts if you wish to.

Whilst pondering the possible reasons for wanting to turn off comments, we had a thought which rang true (for us in any case). A lot of the comments we receive are fake, in the sense that they have no connection to the post they’re made on – more than likely because they’re posted automatically by Instagram bots.

So, after posting the 60 second version of this week’s video on our Instagram account (in which I state the likelihood that a huge percentage of Instagram comments are fake), this happens:

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I have to admit the irony made me chuckle! And I could actually stop writing this article right now because the point has been made. Nuff said. Done. But I won’t, because this is really becoming a noticeable problem for businesses on Instagram.

What are bots, and why do they exist?

Instagram bots are computers which take over your Instagram account to help it “grow”. The computer becomes responsible for liking and commenting on Instagram posts containing certain hashtags that you define beforehand, or posts from the followers of a specific account (again defined by you). You can also choose which comment you post, which is supposed to make the comment seem genuine – even though it’s not. Bots can do other things too, like follow accounts with certain words in their bio, depending on the kind of account you’re looking to connect with.

Sounds great on paper, but it’s actually not a great strategy for growing your account if you’re searching for engagement and authentic followers for your business. In this video, I explain exactly why it really isn’t a great idea to use a bot to grow your Instagram account.

What’s more, although the comments posted are supposed to feel genuine, the more there are like it, the more obvious it becomes that these comments are in fact automatic.

We checked the comments posted on the 10 latest Instagram posts of some top brands, and we came to the conclusion that on average, at least 40% of the comments we saw were unauthentic.

There is no algorithm for detecting fake comments, so these figures aren’t exact but the more you study the different sorts of comments on a post, the more blatant it becomes. Obviously we can’t speak for all brands on Instagram, but the larger ones with hundreds of thousands of followers seem to be more prone to receiving fake comments.

So does this mean my engagement rate is actually lower than I think?

Being an Instagram analytics platform, here at Iconosquare we feel concerned by the obviously growing army of “fake” Instagrammers because the likes and comments left by these bots give a false sense of reality when it comes to engagement. Basically, your engagement rate (which you’re trying so hard to increase) could be based on actions which are not authentic.

Put it this way, if you’re getting an average of 200 comments on your posts, but when you sift through them 40% turn out to be fake, it’s as if you only had an average of 120 comments per post. And that would definitely affect your overall engagement rate.

What can I do to get rid of fake comments on my posts?

Since there is no way of differentiating authentic comments from unauthentic ones, there is no possible way of filtering out the good from the bad as of yet.

  • The new option of disabling comments on your posts is one way of getting rid of the annoying fakeness – but that means also silencing the people who really have something interesting to say.
  • You could go along and delete the comments you consider to be unauthentic (quite easy as it’s generally the comments which have nothing to do with your post), but this will have no effect on your engagement rate.
  • Alternatively, you could go private. This would mean that any fake comments you receive will be coming from your followers only (so if you see one you can simply delete that follower!)

 

Thanks for reading, we’d love to get your input on this topic in the comments section below! Do you have a problem with unauthentic and spammy comments? Let us know!

Emily Lydon

Author Emily Lydon

Emily is an Inbound Marketer for Iconosquare, based in the Limoges office. She loves all things social and revels in keeping on top of the social media marketing game by writing for the blog. She’s also a bit obsessed with sushi, gin and Netflix.

More posts by Emily Lydon
  • sk

    What impact do comments have in Instagram’s algorithm for ranking posts? For example, we know that images that get more likes are ranked at the top of a user’s feed and are thus more likely to be seen by a wider audience as a result. However, does this algorithm take into account the number and velocity of comments? For example, if a post is receiving a lot of comments, especially in a short period of time, will this have the same impact as a lot of likes?

    • Emily Lydon

      Hi there, thanks for your comment! You’re right, it seems to be that posts with high engagement appear at the top of feeds on Instagram – this includes likes and comments. However, the specific way the algorithm works isn’t known to us, so it may be that the quality and origin of the comments is also taken into account. Hope this answers your question! – Emily 🙂

      • Rachael

        I was lead to believe (can’t confirm) that only comments with more than four words were counted in instagrams feed algorithms.

        • Emily Lydon

          Rachael – never heard of that I’m afraid!

          • We held a contest that ran yesterday and we believe one of the contestants is leading because of ‘fake likes’. Is there any way to confirm this?

          • Emily Lydon

            Unfortunately I don’t think so, Kristi!

  • Hi, great article! These bot comments annoy me no end.

    I’m trying to understand the part about engagement rate though.

    Would the fake comments count as a plus on your engagement? Or is there a way that Instagram can tell these are fake?

    As you mentioned removing them won’t make engagement levels go down, if I had 10 comments and they were all fake so I deleted them, wouldn’t that make engagement 0%?

    Sorry, just trying to get my head around it.

    • Emily Lydon

      Hi Jarrod, thanks for your comment! The answer to your question about engagement is no – your engagement rate wouldn’t be 0% because Instagram doesn’t take into account the fact that you deleted the comments. As of yet, there’s no surefire way of detecting bots on Instagram, so the comments are just counted as normal engagement. Does this clear things up? – Emily 🙂

  • Julie

    I guess people need these comments to be able to make them looking famous.

  • I noticed these comments were fake very soon after opening my account. I have a wildlife photography account and so most comments that are legit would not just be one word like “nice” or “interesting.” I look for comments like “cool looking bird” as being legit comments because bots can’t tell the difference in the actual content. I don’t see this so much with Facebook.

    There are some legit comments that are a one word comment, but most of them are bots.

  • Kate

    It actually drives me nuts! As a Digital Media Manager turned Artist, I can spot the fake followers, fake comments & fake likes a mile away. It actually makes me feel a little used haha

  • Eindri

    Hi!
    I was wondering if I were to join Iconosquare to analyze my Instagram account for marketing, do you guys also detect the fake followers?

    Thank you!

    • Emily Lydon

      Not yet Eindri, but we hope to be able to in the future!

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