Now more than ever, Instagram is booming in popularity and there is no shortage of competition out there. This is making it harder for accounts to set themselves apart in their niches and grow their following; there are simply too many options out there these days.
With this added pressure, social media marketing and business can take up huge chunks of time in trying to engage with accounts and gain more reach. In 2020, it’s not uncommon for busy social media marketers or managers to look for ways to streamline their workload and make better use of time through Instagram tools. And why shouldn’t they? After all, time is money!
There are many different tools on the market to help make your Instagram workflow more efficient– Instagram schedulers, content editors, and even automation services to help manage your likes, comments, and engagements with other accounts. But is this a good idea? Instagram has very strict regulations on how automation can be used on the platform, and effectively implementing this into your social media strategy can be quite a dilemma.
People look to Instagram automation as a way to get a load of results in terms of followers and engagement without any of the work. It’s an ideal world, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In this article, we’re going to break down all of the different aspects of automation– why people do it, what are the ways it can be used on the platform, and why it may be best to avoid it altogether. There is definitely a dark side to automation that can produce exactly the opposite of what you’re looking to achieve.
If you’ve been in the Instagram automation game, then you know just how hard it is to get right. We’re going to discuss a bit about what it actually is, how it works, and then we’ll go over why using a service like Growthoid is the right way.
We’ve got a lot of useful information to help you on your journey to a maximized workflow and follower count, so let’s check it out.
What is Instagram Automation?
The logical starting point of this discussion is this: What is Instagram automation, and how does it actually work?
In essence, Instagram automation is basically an automated system, usually run by bots, that produces engagements on your Instagram account, including likes, follows, and comments. This is done automatically so that you don’t have to do it yourself.
The first step is to assign targets that you want your bots to engage with, and then according to your instructions, the bot will interact with these targeted accounts as if it were you, in what we hope is a natural and realistic-sounding way.
Of course, therein lies the problem. How possible is it to actually foster genuine engagements from a bot-run service? This runs along the same lines of buying Instagram followers in bulk, which typically results in nothing but a bunch of fake followers that pollute your metrics and do nothing to enhance your follower to engagement ratio.
This is not exactly the same, as there will definitely be interaction happening on the part of the bot, as that is precisely its purpose. There are some people that argue automation is the best way to increase “real” Instagram followers and engagements through “accurate targeting instructions” and “natural comments.”
There are a few fundamental problems with this, however:
- People are turned off by bots. If a user of Instagram suspects your comment to be generated by a bot, they automatically foster a negative opinion of you and your account. This is annoying to many people and can severely ding your authenticity if people feel you are using Instagram automation to interact with them.
- Instagram knows this and has a strict policy on bot use. Instagram’s primary goal is to provide an impeccable and enjoyable user experience; users don’t like bots, therefore the platform has to find ways to minimize bot interaction on the platform. Of course, it’s possible to see it, so it’s clear that they haven’t been able to completely extinguish it.
- Because bots are frowned upon by Instagram, they have to operate under the radar. If Instagram can deduct that you are using an Instagram bot service, they can shut the whole service down and even take action against the account using them, such as freezing the account, disabling it, or even completely removing it. Instagram automation services must fly under the radar in order to continue operating.
Okay. So it’s clear that bots don’t have an upstanding reputation in the Instagram community. Anything that has to remain hidden to operate properly is probably not on the up and up. But, why do so many people continue to try and use them?
Frontend and Backend Instagram Automation
They seem attractive at first glance, and there are actually two types of Instagram automation, frontend Instagram automation and backend Instagram automation.
Frontend Instagram automation is all of the stuff that users would see– likes, comments, follows, and direct messages. This is where it really makes a difference how the bot is posting. If the content looks like spam or looks automated and generic, it’s likely to be flagged and reported.
Backend Instagram automation is not seen by users and takes control of content posting, hashtag exploration for enhanced reach, analytics, among other things.
This distinction is very important, as many of the backend automation services are still set up and directed by you. Scheduling your Instagram posts in advance, for example, is totally fine and advisable for any busy social media marketer or content producer. Analyzing insights and content performance is important, as is finding hashtags to extend reach. These are not things that will put you at risk of being flagged for Instagram automation.
Frontend automation is where the true problem comes in, as it can be seen as fake or spam, therefore upsetting the Instagram experience and flagging the account.
Can I Safely Use Instagram Automation?
Now that we understand the basics of Instagram automation, we are going to look at the risk and reward of using it. While there have been many companies out there that offer Instagram automation services, many have been known for shady business practices such as promising undeliverable results or not following the user’s target instructions.
Aside from the shadiness of Instagram automation companies, there are a variety of tasks that you can have automated, and they all come with some pros and cons. We’re going to break down some of the tasks you can automate, and how much of a risk automating them will pose to your authenticity and account success.
Automating Likes: Low Risk
If you’re going to automate anything on Instagram, one of the lowest-risk items is likes. This is because it has absolutely no personalized features and is simply a button that can be viewed by the user. Of course, make sure that your profile is well-developed and your content is high-quality so that if they do give your profile a visit, they’ll be likely to follow you.
Automating Comments: High Risk
Automating comments is a dangerous game. It is one of the most viewed elements of Instagram since it’s available for anyone to see on the account where the comment is left. If your comment is not extremely connected to the content that the comment is about, it comes off incredibly spammy and those who see it will immediately write off your account as a bot-run account. This looks desperate, lazy, and less authentic. Automating comments is not advisable.
Automating Analytics: Low Risk
A valuable automation tool for any Instagram marketer, using automated Instagram analytic tools can save time and log your data more effectively than taking time out of your workflow to do it manually. You can then review the findings and make strategic decisions. This is one of the backend Instagram automations that poses a low risk to your account.
Automating Follow/Unfollow: Medium Risk
One of the most popular growth techniques for Instagram is the follow/unfollow. There’s no doubt about it– doing this yourself is extremely tedious and time-consuming, so it’s no surprise that people look to have this automated. It can be done successfully, but the main issue here is twofold; the first issue is making sure that the right followers within the targets are being reached and followed, and the second one is the number of followers being followed. If your account has an uneven ratio of followed accounts to following accounts, your account will look spammy. If you have 4,000 followers but are following 6,000, it’s clear you’re using automation and it also dings your credibility. Automate follow/unfollow with caution.
Automating DMs: High Risk
While not seen by as many people as comments, it’s still inadvisable to automate DMs. People know when a robot is messaging them, and nobody wants to be dealing with a bot. What’s the point in that? Also, if the follower does respond and has something valuable to say, it’s likely that your response won’t be able to come in accurately or quickly enough, and you can miss out on valuable engagement. It’s not advisable to automate DMs.
Automating Story Views: Low Risk
As with likes, there isn’t much personalization that goes into appearing on a story view, so this is pretty low risk. Basically all it will do is appear on an account as if you’ve viewed the account’s story. Automating story views can get you some profile visits and followers, but ultimately won’t really engage with your target audience, so it may not get you much of anything. Engaging on a personal level is a much better way to get results.
Automating Content Posting: Low Risk
Using an Instagram scheduler to automatically post your content at the scheduled time is actually a very commonly-used automation tool for most Instagram marketers and account managers. There are many benefits to scheduling your Instagram content, so this is a backend automation that is not going to compromise your account or reputation in the public eye.
As you can see, most of the low-risk Instagram automation are things that the user doesn’t see, and that is done on the backend. If the user does see them, it’s simply a like or a view. Once you start to automate things like follow/unfollow, comments, and DMs, that’s when your account is put in jeopardy.
Not only that, but Instagram also has engagement caps not released to the public; accounts that go over this engagement cap will be flagged, as it’s clear that this level of engagement is done by a bot. This can definitely mess with your account, and since no one knows what the number is, automating any of your Instagram engagements runs the risk of becoming flagged based on the rate of engagement from your automation service.
The Dark Side of Instagram Automation Companies
So, now that the services are laid out for us, what are some of the issues that people have encountered working with automation service companies?
We already know that these bot services need to work under the radar, which means there is not a lot of transparency in the business to begin with. This makes it a dangerous market where companies can take advantage of consumers, people with generally good intentions who just want to grow their Instagram account.
There is no shortage of horror stories out there related to growth services not providing what they offer, or completely shutting down at a moment’s notice. People have even found their accounts deactivated. Let’s look more specifically at some of the problems of working with an automated growth service.
Problem 1: Support Doesn’t Support You
Growth companies are notorious for falling off the face of the Earth when you need help. If you see that your targets aren’t working as you planned, or maybe you’re seeing a lot of undesirable accounts or interactions happening, nobody responds and you can’t get the issue worked out.
Even worse, maybe some error messages start to appear on your Instagram, or you can’t log into your account. You write to the support team and get nothing back. This is extremely stressful and confusing for those using a growth service.
Sometimes your service won’t even be started! You’ll make a payment, wait to hear back, and nothing. They’re basically taking your money for doing absolutely nothing and refuse to respond for it.
Problem 2: Followers Actually Decrease
Sometimes when an account begins to use Instagram automation, they actually see a decrease in followers. This is a huge problem because it’s reversing all of the hard work that you’ve already put into your account.
Why would this happen?
If your account starts to show activity that reflects the actions of a bot, your followers will be less likely to stick with you and can result in a loss of followers. It’s a literal nightmare.
Also, bots follow all types of accounts. Perhaps they’re following other accounts run by bots, that follow you, and then eventually unfollow. If the follower quality isn’t good, or your account looks spammy, automation can cause you to lose followers.
Problem 3: Targeting, Plus Undesired Followers
The problem here is also twofold; because the targets are automated, the bot can’t tell the difference between a quality follower and a useless one. Even if you have the targets that you think would bring you good results, it can actually pull in a lot of undesired ones.
Also, sometimes companies will add additional targets just to pull more accounts. On paper, the numbers are increasing and everything looks great, but in reality, these accounts may be completely out of your target audience, and therefore are unlikely to produce any valuable engagements for your account.
Problem 4: Downplaying Instagram’s Terms
It’s all too common for companies that offer Instagram automation services to downplay how Instagram feels about bots. They even advertise being “undetectable” by Instagram, which ultimately means they’re doing so little that they won’t be flagged as bot services, and you’re probably not going to see many results. It’s not likely that a platform as popular and profitable as Instagram doesn’t have the means to eliminate bot use and make it as ineffective as possible on the platform.
Growing Followers Without Automation
It’s clear that using Instagram automation for things like scheduling content and gathering analytics is totally advisable, but what about using automation to grow reach and increase followers and engagement?
Well, automation is probably not the best route, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any services out there that can help you.
If you’re really feeling pressed for time and just don’t have the opportunity to put in the work to build your following by hand, there’s actually a service out there that can help.
Unlike most Instagram growth services, Growthoid is a simple service that offers organic Instagram growth through manual interactions. It’s basically providing you with the same function of an automated service, but it’s done by a real person.
Growthoid gives you a dedicated account manager that will take your targets and do exactly what a bot would do, except they do it manually. This is a great alternative to automated growth because you still get that personal interaction and engagement without the spammy, fake look of bots.
It’s a super-effective method to grow your followers, and a lot safer than using Instagram automation services that can totally kill your reputation.
Final Takeaways: Instagram Automation
Hopefully, at this point, you have a clear picture of what Instagram automation is, what types of interactions can be automated, and the potential risks of automating them.
We’ve also offered some things to keep an eye out for when looking for an Instagram automation service, and an alternative to bots and automation that keeps your growth organic and real. It wouldn’t be surprising if companies like Growthoid became the new norm in the growth world.
When considering if Instagram automation will actually help your account workflow, the main thing you need to keep in mind is that yes, saving time is good. But if saving time costs you the effectiveness of the work, you’ll essentially be cutting down your results as well. Hiring Instagram automation services as a quick-fix is not going to bring you long term success, and can end up actually hurting your account, which will take you more time to repair in the long run.
Because of this, we’re going to leave with you with five final takeaways to remember when you consider Instagram automation services.
- Automate backend tasks that make your life easier. Remember, automation tools like schedulers and analytics don’t do anything to harm your account reputation or interactions. Maximize these automation tools to help streamline your workflow and save time where it matters.
- Don’t automate interactions that need to be specific or personalized. Using general comments or DMs immediately hurts your reputation and discredits your account. You can also miss out on important opportunities to engage with users that may bring conversion or business results. Put your energy here and don’t automate these engagements.
- Be skeptical of companies promising safe and effective automation. It’s unlikely that they can deliver on this promise. If you are still considering using frontend automation tools, be extra wary of what companies offer and do your research.
- Use alternative services like Growthoid. Putting someone else in charge of handling your Instagram growth and interaction can be an excellent strategy. You don’t have to worry about the headaches that automation brings, but you can still save some time and entrust your account in the hands of another. A manual growth service is much better than automated.
- Believe in your brand and stick to the Instagram strategy. In the end, building your following on Instagram doesn’t depend solely on automation services or follow/unfollow strategies. Remember the fundamentals of Instagram– have good content. Engage your followers. Have a good posting strategy. Use calls to actions. Use hashtags. All of those elements should still be there, regardless of whether or not you use Instagram automation.
Don’t be tempted by the quick-fix schemes out there. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Find ways to optimize your workflow, work smart, but don’t buy into schemes. After all, if it really worked, why wouldn’t everyone be using it?
Hopefully, with those 5 tips, you’ll have a real idea of how to best use Instagram automation in 2020! Do you have any stories or experiences with automation? Tell us about it in the comments! Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.