If you use Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that when you post to your account and use a popular hashtag, you will often attract at least one new like, follower or comment. Sometimes, a quick check of these mysterious Instagram profiles will make you feel as if you’ve struck gold: They have tens of thousands of followers! They appear to be minor celebrities—potential influencers! More impressively, they are only following a few hundred accounts, and yours is one of them! Naturally, you show your appreciation by following them back.
But if you check your account a few days later, you might notice that you are no longer in that influencer’s radar. Congrats! You were just tricked by a “Follow/Unfollow” bot. The tens of thousands of followers that account had? Your account is now one of them.
If you’re now worried that social media fame is all about trickery and amassing a bunch of fake followers, read on. The following do’s and don’ts will help you find a healthy balance between slow-but-steady organic channel growth and natural-looking, accelerated social automation.
INSTAGRAM AUTOMATION DON’Ts:
- DON’T be too quick to embrace bots of any kind. Most bot services are in violation of Instagram’s policies for API usage, and are thus increasingly getting blocked by Instagram. It is entirely possible for your own brand account to get shut down by Instagram if they decide you are posting in an unnatural way. Using a social automation management company is a much safer approach.
- DON’T ever buy followers. Most such followers are fake, bot accounts.
- DON’T use the spammy #followforfollow or #likeforlike hashtags, and don’t use the Follow/Unfollow bot campaigns I described earlier. Similarly, don’t use a bot campaign to post comments for you; such automated comments are often silly emojis and generic comments (e.g. “I need to show this to be colleagues!”) that may end up sounding fakey or even deeply inappropriate if posted someone’s personal photo. Stick with “like campaigns” only. The people whose posts get liked by your bot will check out your profile out of curiosity, and you’ll passively get new follows from a few of them each week.
- DON’T set up your automation in a way that seems unnatural. Your automated activity should look like human activity. It should always come from same IP address, and should mimic the way you post naturally—in short bursts, during the times of day when you would normally post (mornings, lunch, end-of-day and before bed). If you’re afraid of working with fly-by-night bots or are intimidated by missing an important setting on a tool such as FollowAdder, the social automation managers at Social Sensei are well-versed at setting up and running compliant and natural-looking automation campaigns for you. (If you choose Social Sensei to manage your automation, use our Skyline code “sky10” to save 10% of your monthly fees.)
INSTAGRAM AUTOMATION DOs:
- DO schedule your posts. This can ensure they get posted at the best time of the workday, or when you are busy with other things. HootSuite is a great tool for this.
- DO spend time each day checking the top trending posts under your top ten industry hashtags. Look at the account profiles behind these posts. Ignore most of the ones that are following few accounts but that have tons of followers, as these are probably bot users who are unlikely to follow you back. Focus on the ones that have a followers-to-following ratio closer to 50/50. “Like” a handful of their posts each day, and leave a meaningful, authentic comment or question. If you find a new account with content you truly love, then follow that account. This the best way to earn new, high-engagement followers.
- DO follow back any authentic-looking followers, and interact with all of your followers’ daily content. Occasionally repost the content of your VIP followers. Your followers will return the favor by engaging with your own content, thus improving the authenticity and attractiveness of your feed.
- DO continue to post quality content to your account. Quality content should be insightful, helpful, beautiful, humorous or inspiring. You won’t get followers if your content isn’t “follow-worthy!”
- DO use Instagram ads to promote each of your most visually-interesting posts. Doing so will earn you likes that are signals to other profile visitors that your content is worth reading. You only need to spend a few dollars in click fees per promoted post.
- DO watch your “heart” icon for people who are responding to your automated “like campaign.” Many will like your posts in response, but may initially be reluctant to follow you. Check their account to see if they fit the profile of a client, partner, or amplifier of your social content. If so, follow them—they will then likely follow you in return.
Social automation shouldn’t be fakey or annoying. When used in conjunction with organic engagement techniques, it can be a huge timesaver and a great way to boost your follower count while retaining an authentic social presence.