In the past six months, Instagram has cracked down on spam accounts, bots, and ingenuine followers in a big way. After discovering nearly 150 million fake profiles, Instagram has made it their business to vet each and every account for genuineness.
They are serious about curtailing automated activities and reducing fake profiles on the platform. Through proactive steps, Instagram strives to create a platform where only quality content and genuine engagement thrives.
Instagram keeps a close watch on all of your in-app activities, from your comments to your direct messages. Based on their observations, they assign you a Trust Score or Health Score, which is known only to them.
Through ever-changing algorithms and rigorous data collection, Instagram scans profiles to find the ones that utilize automation, have fake followers, or indulge in spammy activities.
If your activities fall within Instagram’s “suspicious” category bracket, your Trust Score is reduced. After that, your account can be temporarily blocked, permanently banned, or shadow-banned (with reduced visibility in “Explore” and follower feeds). Or, you may find some features suddenly unavailable.
If you feel that you’re safe from Instagram’s wrath since you don’t use automation, bots, or pods, you’re in for a rude surprise. Unfortunately, Instagram’s algorithms can sometimes punish genuine users unknowingly.
Innocuous actions like posting the same emojis in multiple comments can land you on Instagram’s blacklist. To keep on the safe side, you should know which activities can hurt and improve your Trust Scores. That’s precisely what I’ll be covering in this post.
Activities that Can Hurt Your Instagram Trust Score
Before I discuss the activities you should avoid on Instagram, let me tell you a bit about the benefits of having a high Trust Score.
It seems that verified accounts or accounts with high Trust Scores can get away with a lot of activities that are inadmissible for other accounts. Including a bit.ly link in bios and excessive posting are typically frowned upon by Instagram, but not if your Trust Scores are super high.
This doesn’t mean that you should blindly copy strategies used by successful Instagrammers. What works for them might not work as well for you. A more fail-proof strategy is to familiarize yourself with things that Instagram doesn’t approve of and avoid them at all costs.
1. Having Fake Followers
If you’re tempted to purchase fake followers or bots to inflate your follower counts, be ready to be blackballed by Instagram. After many influencers were discovered to be using such black-hat tactics to attract potential clients, Instagram has tightened the noose around fraudulent “celeb users.”
You might not be aware of this but the platform first shows your posts to just 10% of your followers. Instagram’s bots closely watch how your followers engage with those posts. If the majority of your followers don’t interact with your content, Instagram assumes them to be fake.
On top of that, Instagram has come up with AI-based fake follower detectors that you can’t manipulate. If you get on their radar, your Trust Score can take a beating.
2. Indulging in Spammy Activities
In a bid to combat automation, Instagram has started penalizing users for “un-human” activities.
- Liking and commenting in excess
- Sending too many follow requests or unfollowing too many people in a single session
- Tagging random people in posts which have nothing to do with them
- Using irrelevant and repetitive hashtags
- Bombarding non-followers with personal messages
If you display such bot-like behavior, your Instagram Trust Score can take a nosedive.
3. Participating in Engagement Pods
Engagement pods are an arrangement where participants mutually decide to comment on each other’s posts to boost their engagement rates.
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this strategy, except that Instagram views predictable patterns and repetitive activities as “botsy.” So, if you’re a part of such engagement pods, it may negatively affect your Trust Score.
How to Improve Your Instagram Trust Score
It seems like everything you do on Instagram can get you blackballed, but the platform works in mysterious ways. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your Trust Score healthy. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Regulate Your Instagram Posting Frequency
The best advice I can give to anyone who wants to protect their Instagram Trust Score is to avoid over-posting on the platform. Limit your posts to a maximum of two per day. If you post excessively, Instagram assumes that you’re using automation for posting and may punish you for it.
2. Streamline Your Daily Actions
Do you know that Instagram sets daily and hourly limits for each account depending on their follower counts, account ages, and engagement rates? I bet not. If you suddenly follow or unfollow accounts en masse, Instagram considers you suspicious.
If you reach or exceed your action limits on a regular basis, you may get flagged. Ignore the warning signs, and you may even get blocked.
3. Grow Your Follower Counts Organically
If you’re big on Instagram marketing or are an influencer who relies on word-of-mouth marketing, you need to have a large follower community to get the job done.
However, earning followers on social media is no easy task. The competition is stiff and users are fickle. But that doesn’t mean that you should buy fake followers or bots. Instead, use these tactics to attract followers:
- Repost quality content that matches your values or niche. By tagging the original posters, you can catch the attention of their followers who might be tempted to engage with your content, and eventually, follow you.
- Use relevant hashtags for added exposure. You can use tools to search hashtags according to reach, niche, and geography.
- Post unique and appealing content consistently. Though this strategy takes time to yield results, it’s the most organic way of growing your account.
- Switch to a business account to access audience analytics. Draw insights about your audiences such as their content preferences and active times. Then, try to create or curate content that appeals to them and post when they are most active.
Instagram pros swear by tricks like “like-for-like” and “follow-for-follow” (akin to engagement pods), but I don’t recommend them since they often lead to temporary bans.
4. Comment Naturally
Don’t repeat the same comment on multiple posts, especially by the same user. As explained before, comments with the same emoji reactions can attract Instagram penalties. It’s advisable to write insightful comments and replies to keep Instagram bots as well as your followers happy.
5. Use Tags and Hashtags Wisely
If you’re posting group pictures, tag people who are in them or concerned brands only. Tagging random people to draw their attention is not something that Instagram encourages.
Likewise, don’t use the same hashtags in all your posts. Use variations, preferably ones with moderate competition but good engagement rates. You can use the hashtag generator tools I mentioned earlier to dig into hashtag analytics. Your hashtags should be contextually or topically relevant to your content.
6. Don’t Spam Inboxes
Sending multiple direct messages to the same user, especially if they don’t follow you, looks very suspicious. Instagram assumes you’re sending business-related, promotional messages and deducts points off your Trust Score for this.
Don’t message people unless you have a valid reason. And, never message non-followers unless they message you first or you have a genuine reason for approaching them first.
7. Clean Your Follow Lists
Remove followers who don’t engage with your content or post anything themselves. Interact with them actively on their posts so that they are encouraged to return the favor. This way, Instagram understands that they are indeed genuine followers.
It’s also a good idea to follow your Facebook friends and encourage them to follow you back. Since bots can’t emulate this behavior, you can earn a vote of confidence from Instagram this way.
Ready to Grow Your Instagram Account?
One of the fastest-growing platforms on social media, Instagram is the destination for most content creators, marketers, and brands. To take advantage of the platform’s wide reach and penetration, you need to maintain a healthy Trust Score by following the tips I’ve shared above. It is an essential prerequisite to growing your Instagram account.
Do you have any questions about Instagram or any other social platform? Let me know in the comments. I’ll get back to you with the answers soon.