Over the past few weeks, more and more people have been noticing that their Instagram Story views have been increasing, but many are from people who do not follow them, and multiple have their usernames in Cyrillic text.
At first, our theory was that it was a rise in tools which allow you to secretly view (and even download) people’s Stories without being logged in. A staple for ‘social media stalkers’, these sites ask you to put in the handle of the person whose story you want to view, and allow you to see all Stories of that person…without being logged in. It then appears as if it’s been viewed by a bot account.
Since several of these sites (which we are not going to link to!) are Russian, we believed this to be the cause. However, as the problem became more widespread, we realised this wasn’t the case.
In fact, we’re now noticing that some of the random accounts belong to users with thousands of followers, and that not all the accounts are from Russia. It’s a new (and not very good) attempt at increasing engagement and followers.
Why are random people viewing my Instagram Story?
Mass viewing of Instagram Stories is the new buying followers of 2019.
With Instagram cracking down on bots and paid-for followers, this seems to be what is filling the gap.
Our research has found that several small social media agencies are using this as a technique to seem like they are interacting with the public. The theory is, you’ll see an account as having seen your Story, and if their account seems similar to yours or shares a common interest (be it clothes, cats or fitness), then you will follow them.
For example – say you post a Story about completing a half marathon. You see someone you don’t know has watched your Story. You click on their profile and notice they are also talking about running. You notice they have 200k followers, and think 'Wow – and they viewed MY Story!'. Then you follow them.
That’s the theory, anyway. In reality, you’re probably just getting annoyed.
Sadly, the only way to stop them currently is to make your profile private, or send your Story to 'close friends' only.
Why are random accounts voting on my Instagram poll?
Similarly, we're also seeing a rise in bots and random accounts voting on Instagram Story polls. A totally unofficial study (of us looking through our polls across various accounts) found that the majority of the time the votes will be on the option on the left of the poll.
This is almost a secondary phase to the 'story viewing' bots, with certain apps bragging 'your IG account will automatically interact and vote on thousands of stories per day (including polls & quizzes). It can result in up to 5000 active followers per month!'
However, if you're anything like us, you get more frustrated that these bots skew your results than happy about getting more votes overall. A straw poll of our office found that no-one here has followed an account on the back of a random vote.
How are they finding my Story?
If your profile is public, anyone can find your Story. Again, we will not name any of these services, but many options exist where people can search for Stories using hashtags, geo-tags – or even people who follow a particular account.
There are even options to target people based on follower numbers. After all, someone like Taylor Swift isn’t checking everyone who viewed her Story…but someone with over 120 followers is.
Should I mass view Stories to increase Instagram followers?
No! This is not a good way to build a community, and we believe that Instagram will begin cracking down on this soon.
Agencies using this method could be viewing over a million Stories a day in the hope that even 1% decide to follow the account. This is a waste of money, a waste of time, and is not the right way to grow followers across any channel.
So, now you know why those strange views are showing up on your Story! Want to know more about Instagram? Check out more of our blogs about Instagram.