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.


Instagram Today: 500 Million Windows to the World

Our Social Times

Behind the Scenes: Volvo Round the Island Speed Record

Volvo athletes, Team Bridge (Guy, Olly and Steph Bridge), set out to break the Round the Isle of Wight record on foiling kite boards. The team went on to set two world records, Guy set the fastest single handed sailor in 2hrs 32mins 25secs and Steph set the fastest female in 3hrs 3mins 24secs.

Behind the Scenes

I was onsite filming with Helical Productions as Camera-B and Photography for two of the four days of production. Here’s some shots from the project.

Volvo BTS-2

Team Helical headed out early morning to pick up additional b-roll footage along the West Cowes Parade.

Volvo BTS-23

Two ribs for the crew, ready to chase the kite surfers on their record attempt.

Volvo BTS-6

Back in the edit suite at the Into the Blue base.

Volvo BTS-10

The team gearing up with the epic Sony FS7 ahead of the big shoot.

Volvo BTS-20

Charging everything. GoPros at the ready to be mounted on the Volvo athletes.

Volvo BTS-12

Filming the introduction in beautiful sLog-2 and 150fps.

Volvo BTS-16

Team Bridge having a quiet moment to themselves.

Volvo BTS-24

90% Preparation, 10% Perspiration

Team Bridge going over plans the evening before the round the island record attempt.

Volvo BTS-22

End of a long few days of production and behind the scenes.

Helical Productions

Team Helical provide broadcast and digital quality productions for the clients including,

BBC | CNN | NBC | CANAL+ | Red Bull TV | SKY | Radio-Canada | Channel 4

For more information and examples of their work visit their website.

Gear Up

Here is a quick run down of the equipment I used during the shoot.

All photos were taken on a Sony A7s ii, using a combination of lenses:

  • Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS
  • Sigma 10-20mm f3.5

Pro tip – Be prepared for your gear to get wet. Bring protection.

Bonus Content

Additionally I took with me the Theta S 360º camera and managed to capture a shot onboard our rig. Check it out on my Facebook here:


Edit 360 photos on mobile

First question. Why would you want to edit 360 photos on your mobile?

Facebook have recently added the functionality to their mobile platform to upload and share 360 photos. This means you can share an immersive experience of your travels and friends.

What does it take

As it turns out, not much. Start with your 360 photo and upload via your mobile device. Facebook will recognise your 360 photo, and boom there it is:

To see the embedded 360 content, click through the above image
(opens in a new window)

Because I like to keep things simple, I shoot with the Theta S and edit 360 photos on an iPhone. This basically means I can take the image, edit and post it all from the same location.

Edit 360 photos on mobile

Recently Eric Cheng published a note on Facebook tackling how to edit 360 photos and consequently inject the missing metadata that is striped out during some editing processes. Eric’s process involves editing the 360 photos on photoshop.

However, I don’t always have the time to edit my photos in editing software like Photoshop, and like to edit on the fly using the powerful mobile apps that are available. So I started to explore what was possible in order to edit 360 photos on mobile.

In the Edit // Generally I will use VSCO on my mobile device to edit any photo. Why? Well it gets the basics right and has an easy interface to use on mobile.

I have found that you are able to edit 360 photos in VSCO, tweak all the elements you’d like to (similar to editing normal photos on Instagram). Bonus feature is you can export out at the original resolution, so it won’t try and re-format your photo for mobile in any way. And that’s important, as it preserves the metadata.

Why is metadata important? //  Usually, metadata contains boring information about the device you captured the image on or even geo-location of where you took the photo. In the case of 360 photos it lets platforms such as Youtube and Facebook know this is a 360 photo and is displayed differently.

If that metadata is deleted from the image, as some processes strip it out, Youtube and Facebook are no longer able to tell if it is a 360 photo, hence why it is displayed as a strange looking regular image.

Fortunately, the process I have outlined above with VSCO, maintains the crucial metadata.


Upload to Facebook via the mobile app

Troubleshooting // The process isn’t perfect, but I have a solution which works with my set up.

When you reach the stage of uploading the image to Facebook via the mobile app, all being well, you will see the ‘360’ icon in the bottom right of your selected 360 photo (see image left).

If the exported image doesn’t display the ‘360’ icon, that means the metadata hasn’t been saved.

But worry not!

I was able to go back into the Theta S app on my phone, browse to my images in my camera roll, as if I was going to share my photo to Theta’s own 360 network (yes they have one).

At that point the image I select in the Theta S is recognised as a 360 photo. Exit the Theta S app.

Return to your Facebook app on your phone, re-select the 360 photo you wanted to share, and boom there it is.

Summary of the Process

  1. Edit in VSCO
  2. Export original resolution
  3. Upload to Facebook via the mobile app (make sure the ‘360’ icon is displayed)
  4. [OPTION] Open your 360 photo in Theta S app to ensure metadata is added to your photo
  5. Sit back enjoy your beautiful 360 photo

Learn more

If you’re interested in learning more about 360 photos on Facebook, and you definitely should.

Check out Facebook’s dedicated site to all things ‘Facebook 360‘. They helpfully break down how to upload and share your 360 photos and what devices you can get if you want to up your game.

Alternately, they have a Facebook Group where you can explore the work of other people sharing their experiences and 360 photos.

For more of my work on 360 photos, please follow me on Facebook.

What I learned writing my own job ad

How often do you really ask yourself, what is it I do?

Writing my own job ad

Whilst writing my own job ad, I recently had the chance to help shape what the job description for my replacement looks like. And naturally, who knows my job better than myself?

But asking me what it is I actually do is a difficult question. I know what my job title is and general responsibilities are, throw in some corporate jargon and that’s what I tell friends and family.

I know that when I talk to friends they skate over the details and justify the lack of detail by saying “and some other boring stuff”.

Sit Back, Orientate Yourself

Our working lives are naturally ordered by hours, days, weeks and months. That makes it difficult to sit back and really think about what it is you do day-to-day vs month-to-month.

I began writing my own job ad description by placing myself within the context of the team and how I help them get things done.

But it hit me when I started listing off the skills I bring to the table. Once I broke down all the work I’d had a hand in or had led on, it was startling to realise the number of skills I actually had.

My advice is to sit back and look at the body of work you’ve been involved in, even over the last six months and then attribute the skills you’ve used on each project.

**Embrace that immediate moment of pride**

Thinking Space

As a Digital Creator, thinking space is an undervalued asset as it should be for any professional.

Finding the time is your first challenge. At first it won’t seem natural, but you’ll begin to put the pieces together correctly as opposed to bashing them into place to meet your deadlines.

I’ve seen high-flying professionals tackle this in their own way. Thinking space can manifest in many different ways:

Reclining in your chair, staring out the window, taking a walk around the park, talking it through with a colleague…

Whatever it is, use it to your advantage.

Writing my own job ad needed thinking space. I wasn’t recruiting for myself, I had the team in mind and how that person needs to integrate and stand out to deliver their role.

An important part of that process is understanding where that job will likely go. You can’t predict the future but you can have a good stab at it.

Thinking space will give you the perspective needed to keep asking “what is it I do?” and what will the next person in my shoes be likely to do.


If you want the opportunity to create within a large financial services firm and continue to innovate in that space, this could be it.

Ageas Direct are seeking their next Digital Creator to work as part of their Innovation Team. This is a team not like any other. They’ve been building their in-house capability for the past 18 months, to deliver products customers actually want, redefining processes, and improving our workspace for our employees.

You’ll be fuelling that process, by bringing their ideas to life. How often can you say you get to create startups to put in front of consumers for direct feedback, develop content plans that showcases the great work you’re doing and work in a truly innovative business?

Digital Creator

And of course, here’s how I expressed what it is I do everyday:

Alternately, check out my Linkedin here.


Writing my own job ad