How To Protect Your Social Media From Bots & Fake Followers

A large social media following is not just a vanity metric or social status; it’s an asset. If you have a lot of followers, others can pay you to promote products and services. Also, people will invite you to events, and every door will seem open. This is why many people will do anything to obtain this type of following – even buy social media bots and fake followers.

Now, this is never a good idea. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that bots and fake followers don’t pack the same punch as organic followers. For instance, they:

  • Don’t engage with your content
  • May leave inappropriate bot comments
  • Spam
  • Ruin your credibility

Every decent social media platform is strongly against bots and fake followers, some, like Instagram, are strongly opposed to buying fake followers. This is even in their terms of service.

Still, is it possible for one to get fake followers and bots on accident? Yes, unfortunately. Here are some tips to help you avoid this and protect yourself from the plight of the social media world.

social media bots

How To Attract Bots And Fake Followers

Now, if you bought followers, there’s no mystery of how you got this following; however, there are some ways to attract them by accident

By using certain popular hashtags, you’re raising awareness of your social media profiles. This can be a good thing but also attract unwanted attention. You see, it’s in the best interest of bots and false followers to appear less scam-like. 

Therefore, they may randomly follow popular accounts and people posting popular hashtags. This happens automatically, and by randomly using certain hashtags, you can paint a target on your back. 

This is not to say that you should avoid using popular hashtags. Such a suggestion would be preposterous. We’re merely suggesting that tactics like hashtag cramming may increase the odds of bot infestation.

Joining follow-for-follow groups is another known method of attracting unwanted attention. While this is not the same as buying followers, the principle is similar. 

The bottom line is that you must be selective of your hashtags and spaces where you share links to your accounts. This is the only way to keep your brand safe in a hostile social media environment. The problem is that these tips may seem counterintuitive in a race to get as many followers as possible. 

Conduct A Social Media Audit

One of the ways to clean up your social media is to conduct a social media audit. Now, there are two ways to dos so, manually or with tools for bot detection. Here’s how you can do this.

do a social media audit
Do a social media audit to find bots and fake followers on your accounts.

Manual Social Media Audit

Even people who buy bots and followers seldom buy them in hundreds of thousands or millions. This means that we’re talking about thousands of followers. However, if you want to grow their presence organically and are worried about accidental bots, you’re probably dealing with even smaller numbers.

You must first learn to recognize fake accounts and bots to do so. 

The first thing you need to pay attention to is strange numbers. These bots usually follow much more people than follow them. For instance, they may follow thousands of people and pages while being followed by a handful of pages (sometimes, they’ll even have zero followers).

  • It’s far better to pay attention to these things immediately after they follow you rather than waiting for an audit to cleanse them. Still, some account holders are so thirsty for followers that they just accept without even looking at the social media account behind the request. 

Bot accounts usually have short, action-packed history. Their account will have a lot of action but only for a couple of days.

Also, these accounts are often empty. They have no content, and if you can see comments they’ve made, they’re usually either generic or make no sense. So, you’re looking for either nonsensical content or a complete lack of content

Now, it’s important to mention that fake profiles sometimes pose a far greater challenge. People can dedicate much time to making them look real; these profiles are near-indistinguishable from real ones. In a way, they’re more alternative profiles than fake profiles. As such, and for this article, they’re not a major problem.

Use Tools For Bot Detection

Another, more efficient way to handle this issue is to use tools for bot detection. Some apps automatically apply all the principles listed in the previous section. Besides this, they have a more advanced method of pattern recognition and social media behavior analysis. In other words, they have a higher accuracy.

Most importantly, they can make the need for an audit completely obsolete. These tools are always active and can recognize bots in real-time. 

Be Suspicious of Third Party Apps

There are a lot of third-party apps that promise to grow your social media following. The problem with these apps is that they must deliver quick results to earn positive reviews.

They promise magic and deliver magis, but like with all forbidden magic, “at what cost?”

The shortcut is to provide you with bots. On paper, your following is really growing. With such numbers, even your engagement might slightly increase. The problem is that, in the long run, you might regret this decision.

Once the social media platform commits a purge of bots (these happen regularly), you’ll find yourself short of followers.

Regardless of your field’s competitiveness (as a business or individual), there’s always a better way to stand out

fake followers
Watch out when trying to gain followers as many are fake followers and bots.

Understand Different Types of Fake Social Media Followers

Another step in protecting yourself from social media bots and fake followers is understanding different types of fake followers. 

The first group is inactive social media accounts. Sure, some people start following you and then lose interest in social media. These people slightly pump your numbers up, and there’s really no downside to having them around. Eventually, the social media platform in question will delete their accounts, and no harm will be done.

  • However, some deliberately make false accounts to follow profiles online and never log in again. Where do you think all those bots and fake accounts come from? While it’s easy to see the difference between these two account types, they can be classified as inactive social media accounts.

Bots are different. They are not inactive, and they’re usually programmed to interact with your content. It’s unusual for them to like and comment on your content. While this benefits your content in the short run, these bots are usually malicious and may spread misinformation or trick your regular followers. It’s not uncommon to see these bots commit phishing scams and worse. 

While these two are not the only types of fake followers, they’re probably the most common. You’ll be making a difference by just keeping an eye on these two groups. 

Put Some Trust In The Platforms

Most of the time, you only need to wait for these bots to be removed. It’s not just your problem; it’s everyone’s problem. According to some estimates, about 15-40% of social media accounts are bots and fake accounts. The discrepancy between 15% and 40% is huge, but this greatly varies on the platform. 

Make no mistake; platforms are actively fighting against this problem. In Q1 of 2022, Facebook deleted about 1.6 billion fake accounts. This is a massive number, and while Facebook is a massive platform, it still seems somehow disproportionate.

While this may sound terrifying, it’s important to stress that this isn’t evenly distributed. First, a person with 200-500 friends/followers is likely to have 90% of their following consisting of people they already know. In this crowd, it would be easy to spot a fake profile, and a manual social media follower audit would take minutes.

If you have a larger following and don’t just randomly accept or buy followers, you can play it cool and wait for the platform to remove some of these profiles.

Bots And Fake Followers Will Always Hurt Your Social Media Brand In The Long Run

First, you must learn to protect your brand from attracting fake followers. This will give you fewer fake followers and bots to remove. However, you must also learn how to recognize these fake followers to remove them.

Alternatively, you could use a tool for this task, as well. Still, be careful which tools you use and try to learn as much as possible on this subject matter.  How have you dealt with social media bots and fake followers? I’d love to hear from in the comments below.

Lisa Sicard
  • Hello Lisa,

    Buying Social Media followers leads to fake followers and I always recommend my followers to increase their social media following organically. You have shared some amazing tips to overcome fake and bot followers.

    Regards,
    Vishwajeet Kumar

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Vishwajeet, you are so right, it’s not worth it in any way! I did it once to show a client how it did not work well. Thanks for coming by and have a great day!

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