Instagram Bots: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Pros and Cons of Using Instagram Bots for Business

How do you become popular on Instagram?

How do you get tons of followers?

The key is to be active as often as possible.

Comment and like posts. Create new content often. Follow relevant accounts and follow-back people.

Do these activities consistently and you’ll be on your way to Instagram success.

The problem is you can’t keep this up everyday.

Managing your Instagram account is only one task in your to-do list. You may have to focus on other social media accounts. Go to meetings. Attend events. And create content every day.

So how do you build your Instagram brand and make time for other tasks? How do you build a successful brand on Instagram? The answer lies in using Instagram bots and automation.

Now, if you’re weighing the pros and cons of using Instagram bots, then don’t worry! In this article, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly with these bots.

Become an Instagram Marketing Expert

Download our 100+ paged ebook: Instagram for Business to learn how to better utilize Instagram to grow your business today.

But before that, why not try using an alternative to Instagram bots that’ll get you better results in less time?

With Sked (formerly Schedugram), the all-in-one social media management tool for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and soon Twitter, you can increase sales and brand visibility without risking your account from being shadowbanned, or worse yet, deleted entirely.

After all, most people who’re searching for an Instagram bot to automate their Instagram marketing simply want to save time whilst trying to grow their brand.

How Sked is the Perfect Alternative to an Instagram Bot

Sked was built from the ground up, to help you increase social media engagement without spending thousands of hours using archaic systems and switching from app (camera), to app (notes) to APP (Instagram) just to manage your entire social media workflow.

The tool enables you to post right away or schedule posts for later so your buffer is always full.

After you’ve chosen a schedule, Sked will post content at your specified time. You can also crop, add filters or text or rotate images before you post.

What makes Sked truly special is how it supports most features that are native to Instagram.

From scheduled first comment publishing, hashtag management and Instagram grid previews to unlimited account management (perfect for agencies), product, user and location tagging.

Still, think an Instagram bot could be right for you?

What are Instagram bots?

Instagram bots allow you to automate your Instagram tasks.

If you want to engage with your followers, you have to leave comments, like posts and follow accounts. While it’s fun to check out your followers’ posts’, you can’t keep this up 24/7.

But because of bots, you can sit back and relax! Instagram bots can do these tasks for you, so you don’t have to.

You can automate bots to like or comment on posts that used a specific hashtag.

They can comment “Amazing!” on any photo with the #travel or #foodporn hashtag. They could also auto-follow Instagrammers in your niche. Or follow back the users that followed you.

In short, they can help you build your brand.

…but bots aren’t completely perfect.

They’re robots.

They only do what they’re programmed to do.

Meaning they can comment “Amazing!” on a silly selfie, as long as it had the #travel hashtag. Or they could comment “Great!” on a tragic event, as long as it had the specified hashtag.

So are Instagram bots good or bad?

Let’s start with a discussion on how Instagram bots can be an asset to your brand.

Why Instagram Bots are a Good Thing?

Automation is an innovation.

These days I bet you want to automate our emails, monthly groceries and bill payments. You don’t want to regularly repeat routine tasks. So it makes sense that you’d want to automate your Instagram too.

It also makes sense that Instagram bots should make managing our Instagram easier. So let’s discuss some of the benefits to consider when using these tools:

Instagram bots are fast and efficient

Time is gold.

As much as you want to engage with your followers every day, it’s never going to work. It’s not practical to spend hours in a week on your followers’ feeds.

With bots, these tasks are automatically done for you. They can comment, follow and like posts 24/7. So you generate results, with the least amount of time and effort. Amazing, right?

Instagram bots increase your followers

follow-instagram-bots

Bots can search for users in your niche and auto-follow them. They can also follow-back users who have followed you.

This way, you can increase your reach and discover potential customers.

Gone are the days when you had to scroll through various profiles to find your ideal customer. Instead, you can let the bot find potential leads for you. Plus, it can engage and interact with these new potential customers and followers.

Instagram bots engage with your followers

As we’ve mentioned before, building authentic engagement takes time.

The good thing is that bots can do it for you. They can auto-follow, like and comment on posts.

A big downside to this is that it isn’t genuine engagement. Bots can leave awkward comments. But you have no way to track the replies sent to your followers. And genuine or heartfelt interactions can’t be programmed.

The Bad Thing About Instagram Bots

1. Awkward Situations and Insensitive Comments

odd-comments-instagram-bots

As we’ve mentioned before, bots don’t consider the context or the captions in the photo. They only think about adding a comment based on a hashtag. As you can imagine, this can lead to a lot of awkward situations.

In case you need a little more convincing, here are some stories of epic bot fails and awkward moments.

Stephanie Gilbert, Founder of Small Talk Social, had a bot that commented smiley face emojis. Unfortunately, her bot left the emojis on a post of a girl who grieved over her dead friend. Yikes!

What’s worse is that she couldn’t control or track where the bots would comment, so she only found out about the incident when the victim sent her a DM.

Evan Lepage wrote about his bot experiment.

He programmed the bot to send generic comments such as “Nice one!” “Damn!” “your pics > my pics” and “I’m jealous” to anyone who posted with hashtags he specified (#Canada, #Montreal, #Vancouver, #PNW, #Fishing, #Water, #Awesome).

The experiment leads to a lot of awkward situations. The bot commented “damn!” on a bride’s wedding photo, “I’m jealous!” to a man who took a photo beside an ugly painting he ridiculed, and “your pics > my pics” to a selfie of a middle school kid.

Needless to say, he replaced his settings and changed his comments.

So yes, Instagram bots are not good commenters. They can even ruin your brand’s reputation. All it takes is a simple screenshot and a negative post from a user. But what if you play it safe and post generic comments? What if you react to posts with cute emojis?

2. No Real Engagement

Can Instagram bots replace human interaction?

James McManus, a social media marketer, experimented with bots to find out. He played it safe and programmed the bot to comment “Great post, thanks for sharing.” and a simple emoji.

The results? He commented on 383 posts but garnered no real engagement.

No one was interested in a comment with a smiley face emoji. He gained very few followers, but they weren’t really interested in his profile. After all, what kind of engagement do you expect with one emoji? People won’t want to connect with you, out of a simple reaction.

In short, on the comments front, bots can comment a lot, but people aren’t interested in generic comments. So the quality of engagements is low.

3. Messed up Instagram Feed

ugly-feed-instagram-bots
If you think that there’s no problem with a bots’ auto-follow features, then think again!

While you follow thousands of accounts and get hundreds of new followers in return, you can end up with a random feed. As you add more random followers in your network, expect posts from relevant people to get buried.

If you don’t care about your Instagram feed, then this isn’t a problem. But if you love Instagram because you love your network, then be prepared. You may have to browse through your follower list to find people that interest you.

It’s a time-consuming alternative. But if you want to use bots, then sacrifices must be made.

The Ugly Problem With Instagram Bots

Violation of Instagram’s Terms of Use

Instagram bots create some very awkward moments.

But the real problem is they access Instagram’s API without the platform’s permission. This violates Instagram’s Terms of Use, specifically:

  • You must not access Instagram’s private API by means other than those permitted by Instagram.
  • Don’t store or cache Instagram login credentials.
  • Don’t use the Instagram API to display User Content, import or backup content, or manage Instagram relationships, without our prior permission.
  • Ensure your comments are tailored for each person. Don’t post unauthorized commercial communication or spam on Instagram.
  • Don’t enable a business to take more than one action on Instagram at a time.
  • Don’t use an unreasonable amount of bandwidth, or impact the stability of Instagram.com servers or the behavior of other apps using the Instagram APIs.

I bet no one reads a software’s terms of use. But Instagram loves to remind Instagram bot automation companies to follow its rules.

In fact, Instagress—one of the top tools for Instagram bot automation—got shut down. The brand’s announcement stated, “Sad news to all of you who fell in love with Instagress: by request of Instagram we’ve closed our web-service that helped you so much.”

 

instagress-shutdown-instagram-bots

But companies aren’t the only ones at risk.

Anyone who uses a bot that violates Instagram’s API can get banned too for going beyond Instagram’s daily and hourly limits.

Instagram’s Daily and Hourly Limits

Instagram’s limits aren’t set in stone. The platform creates limits based on your age, number of followers and activity. A typical user shouldn’t have more than 150 likes, 60 comments and 60 follows/unfollows every hour.

This makes sense given that no one is capable of liking, commenting or following so may posts in a short amount of time. Unless, they’re spammers or trolls.

After all, do you like hundreds of posts per hour? Do you comment on the 50 posts you see on your newsfeed? Do you unfollow and unfollow people in a short amount of time? Of course not.

But the problem with bots is that they can perform hundreds of activities per hour. So Instagram thinks that the activity in your account is unnatural.

This isn’t bad.

But the problem is bots don’t have minds of their own. They can leave comments that aren’t appropriate for the situation. And if a lot of users relied on bots, then Instagram interactions wouldn’t be authentic or genuine.

Bots would leave weird and awkward comments on Instagram posts. They would takeover Instagram’s comments section and bury reactions from real people.

Since they have such a negative impact on the platform’s future, Instagram has shadow banned bot users.

The Instagram Shadowban

An Instagram shadowban makes your pictures and photos invisible to non-followers. That means your images won’t appear in spite of the hashtags you used in the post. You can still create posts and engage with your current followers. But you will no longer be able to engage and attract new followers.

As you can imagine, this leads to a massive dip in engagement and a massive blow to your social media strategy. You will no longer be able to grow your brand. You won’t be able to get discovered by new people.

So it’s clear that reliance on Instagram bots, is not a good idea.

Alternative to Using Instagram Bots

The good news is that not all automation tools pose a risk to your account. And there are some strategies that can help you increase your engagement.

1. Hire a Virtual Assistant

If you don’t have time to engage with followers, hire a virtual assistant. Of course, VA’s are a lot more expensive than bots and it’ll take time to find the right assistant.

But, consider this.

Virtual assistants can leave authentic and heartfelt comments. They can engage with followers, and help your brand connect with real people.

They’re also less likely to leave awkward and inappropriate comments. So you don’t have to worry about ruining your reputation or doing any damage control.

So in the long-run, investing on a dependable virtual assistant is a good idea.

2. Do It Yourself

If you don’t have the budget to hire a virtual assistant, then that’s okay! Instead of relying on a bot to leave generic comments and automate your account, do the work yourself.

Allot an hour per day to engage with your followers, or take the time to get to know potential customers. Do this consistently to get the best results.

Look at it this way. If you want to get people to advocate for your brand, then you need to connect with them. You need to establish relationships. You can’t do this with a generic comment or a simple emoji.

Sure, it’s time-consuming. But in the long-term, you can build your brand and have an engaged audience.

3. Create Instagram Ads

ads-instagram-bots

If you want to reach a lot of people target, then use Instagram ads.

A good ad will get people in your niche to discover your profile and services.

It’s not very pricey and you can reach new people without taking the time to engage with them.

Sure, it might be hard to create a compelling ad. But at least they generate more engagements than bots.

4. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

Let’s be honest.

Chatbots are great because they can increase your followers, effortlessly.

No need to take the time to get to know people and wait for them to follow you. Instead, you get more followers everyday.

A big downside to this strategy is that you don’t get an authentic following. You attract bots and trolls. So, would you rather have 500 followers who love your brand, or 500 trolls and bots as followers? Take your pick.

If you choose the former, then be patient! Building a great following takes months and even years! But the effort you exert will be worth it!

Become an Instagram Marketing Expert

Download our 100+ paged ebook: Instagram for Business to learn how to better utilize Instagram to grow your business today.

Over to You

Let’s recap.

Even though Instagram bots make it easy for you to build your following, gain likes and comments, the results they generate are not worth it.

Since bots don’t understand the context of the situation, they can send inappropriate and awkward comments. If you try to play it safe with generic comments and simple emojis, you don’t build interest or engagement. What’s worse is that they violate Instagram’s terms of use.

In the worst case scenario, you can even get shadow-banned!

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can grow your following on Instagram without them.

1. Hire a virtual assistant
2. Do the work yourself
3. Focus on quality, not quantity and be patient
4. Use an Instagram Scheduler such as Sked
5. Create compelling Instagram ads

Put those tips into play, and you’re sure to create an Instagram profile that’s bound to engage with your audience.

To carve out hours in your social media workflow, start by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. As an all-in-one social media platform that allows its users to post directly to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and soon Twitter, Sked is the first step in engaging authentically with your followers.

Picture of Monique DanaoMonique Danao

Monique Danao

Monique Danao is a writer and content creator with an expertise in marketing, design and SEO. When she's not writing, you'll find her enjoying funky food, listening to music and marketing start-ups. Follow her @monique_pd

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