Tired of mass followers and spam comments? Take it easy, there’s a new trend taking over Instagram — automatic mass viewing of others Instagram stories.
Well, actually this type of spam is not new, but for some reasons it became huge in Russian segment for the last couple of months…
What is this?
So the idea is pretty simple. If you have a small amount of followers and you post stories from time to time, then usually you wonder who is watching them.
You go into the statistics and you see an unknown profile there. You click on it to find out who is he/she.
If this profile matches your interests, chances are that you’ll start following it, like some posts or get involved with it in some way.
So basically everything is the same as in the case of automatic likes and follow/unfollow situation. The only goal is to get your attention and motivate to go to a promoted profile. The only difference is that in case of mass story viewing there are no annoying notifications, but it spoils the statistics.
In your story stats these profiles may look absolutely normal (besides they are all Russian/Ukrainian):
So this type of spam has become hugely popular among Russian influencers and celebrities. There are funny screenshots going viral, where an ordinary users show that some TV star has watched his or her Instagram story. And then this star on her stories tries to explain how this may happen… That she cares of her fans, sometimes visit their profiles and blah blah.
But many of those who actively use this type of spam are the owners of these services or just local “social media gurus” that offer such promotion. In fact they are just intermediaries between a customer and these spam services. They create thousands of fake profiles and massively watch your stories trying to promote their service. In stats, it looks like this:
If you check any of these profiles, they just promote their basic profile in bio. This way there are less chances that the main profile will get reported and banned.
So, if you work with influencers and evaluate their potential and credibility in terms of the number of views/reach of their stories, I have some bad news: the stories stats are lying too. And if fake followers, comments or likes can still be verified somehow, either manually or using various online services, you can’t check the statistics of stories, because external services do not have access to them.
How to set up automatic stories watching?
As you may guess, there’s an app for that. A plenty of apps (online services and standalone software), especially in Russia.
The settings are usually similar to mass following services:
- by hashtags;
- geo tags;
- followers of the specified profiles;
- according to the list of users (which can be created in the same service).
In addition, you can configure filters to eliminate unwanted profiles:
- no profile picture;
- with a lot of followers (they most likely have already stopped looking at the statistics of their stories);
- with a large number of observed profiles (most likely they are spammers who use mass following).
Example of one of the services settings (I do not promote its name intentionally):
What are the effects of mass viewing of others stories?
Depending on how well the target audience is chosen and the attractiveness of the profile name and picture in the statistics, CTR (the ratio of users who click to the number of total story views) can be 1-5%. Further actions in the profile itself, for example, if a user follows you or clicks on a link in the bio, depends on many factors (target group, profile attractiveness, etc.).
I’ve tested one of the services on a ‘dead’ profile with no engagement, making ~11 thousand views of stories according to one hashtag. During the day I got 89 profile visits, i.e. CTR was 0.8%.
But if you select the appropriate target audience, you can get much better results. The following screenshots are taken from the author of one of such mass story viewers. He claims that this is the result of viewing 200 thousand stories a day:
Are there any sanctions for mass story viewing?
No idea. I didn’t find any example of complaints about any limitations or “shadowbans”. Information about this kind of spam is very small in the Western web. I don’t think Instagram is interested in this case right now, because the consequences of these actions are not visible from the outside. You can’t see it the same way as fake likes or followers if you don’t have access to the profile itself.
The authors of these services boast that they make hundreds of thousands of views daily per profile and do not get any sanctions, but at the same time they recommend not to go crazy and limit to 200-300 thousand views per day.
Update. I’ve came across this type of screenshots recently, but I’m not sure if it has anything in common with the story spam:
How much does it cost?
I know several services — some of them work in the cloud and you pay either per month or per action (e.g. for 1 view), some work on the desktop.
Russian services cost from 7 to 18 USD. Western — from 29 USD.
That means, that for a few bucks you can get 60-300 thousand profile visits per month (depending on the settings and CTR).
Is it worth using it?
If you are a small blogger or a local business owner, this can probably give some effects that can be measured in $ or at least in the number of new followers. If you are an influencer or you represent a brand, then you’ll probably annoy your potential customers and fans, that are already sick and tired of Instagram fake and mass followers and spammy comments.
The same as mass follow/unfollow services, mass story viewing services may also add you some fake views and profile visits, just to make you happy for the results.
Oh, and by the way, just like every service which is not verified by Instagram, they’ll ask for your login and password in plain text. So, do it at your own risk :)
How can I get rid of story spammers?
The only way to block this spam is to make your account private, or to add all of your followers to the ‘Close Friends’ list and post your stories only for this list.
Do you have any interesting case studies on this? Know how to report this case to Instagram? Let me know in the comments.