Welcome to Instagram Spam

Instagram Spam or Insta-Spam, is the new unsolicited email. That notification on your phone has the potential to be your best friend asking you to make plans for Saturday night or it can be something much worse.

In June, Instagram was able to boast a user base of 500 million people with over 300 million using the platform every single day.

A video posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

The platform has continued to grow in popularity and has some of the best engagement rates for marketeers in the industry. Simply Measured believes Instagram has engagement rates that are 15 times higher than Facebook and 20 higher than Twitter. This means what ever you are selling has to be on point when it comes to design, otherwise you’ll be ignored and not get that all important ‘double tap’.

The downside, as there is always one, is that high engagement rates means lots of opportunity for spam – and Instagram has it by the bucketload.


  • irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the Internet, typically to large numbers of users, for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware, etc.

Welcome to Instagram Spam

A while back, Instagram instigated the great purge of 2014 which saw lots of users lose followers (essentially spam or fake accounts), for instance Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million followers, and Instagram themselves lost 18.8 million.

… lost 3.5 million followers!!

That should give you an idea of the levels of spam on Instagram, and that was back in 2014, which would mean that of JB’s followers 4.2% were fictitious. Those volumes have either maintained or grown alongside the popularity of the site as spammers always find the next way of staying relevant.

Let me explain this

Instead of telling you, let me show you an example of Instagram spam overkill.

I post regularly to Instagram (cheeky plug) and use hashtags to promote visibility of my photos and to help show off those photos to people who might be interested. However, hashtags make you very visible to Instagram spam. Unsurprisingly spammers take full advantage of this and respond in full force.

Here is a photo I posted to the platform and fell prey to a world of Instagram Spam:


Instagram Spam


One post to Instagram, generated 73 comments – SEVENTY THREE!

And amazingly you’ll notice it only received 8 likes, which given the interest generated in the comments section, should have been higher. Of the eight likes, I actually know two of the accounts that liked my photo. On closer inspection of the other ‘likes’ on this photo, the remaining six likes are all from genuine accounts (aka not trying to sell anything).


Let’s look at how they got there in the first place. As I’ve mentioned, I use hashtags to help highlight my posts. Evidently hashtags have their uses to help other users discover my photos.

On this photo, I used the following hashtags:

#friend #friends #summer #fun #funny #love #instagood #igers #friendship #party #chill #happy #photooftheday #live #forever #smile #best #bestfriend #lovethem #bestfriends #goodfriends #besties #awesome #memories #goodtimes #goodtime

They are clearly the source of my Instagram spam. However I make use of hashtags everyday and on plenty of other photos on my Instagram account.

The difference was that I had never used this combination or theme (Friends) before. My thought process here is that the theme of ‘friends’ assumes you’ll be tagging your Instagram post with the accounts of your friends too, so what better way for a spam account to get reach than to target a photo that ensures their comments will be seen by you, your friends and friends of friends.

Smart really.

My Instagram Spam Solution?

To date this has worked.

I have begun creating my own hashtag lists, relevant to the subject of my photo. They are often a blend of subjects and therefore don’t tend to hit variant words, such as:

#friends #friendship #mates #besties #bffs

Until the next Instagram purge, we’ll have to live with the threat of Instagram spam, but it’s best you are aware of it next time your notifications go wild.


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