Instagram Automation: What Are the Dangers of Using Bots?

Instagram automation is the shiny new toy that marketers and brands are looking to embrace. The reasons for it are obvious — it saves time and can boost your responsiveness and engagement. That’s the bright side of Instagram automation.

But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. If it’s not done right, using Instagram bots can actually harm your brand’s reputation. They can provide an easy fix to your marketing woes. But in the long run, they may do more damage than good. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at Instagram automation and the dangers associated with it. Understanding the pitfalls is essential to developing a successful Instagram marketing strategy.

Instagram Automation: What Are the Dangers of Using Bots?

Understanding Bots on Instagram

If you want to know how Instagram automation works, you need to first understand what bots do. 

Instagram bots are designed to automate repetitive tasks that can take up a large chunk of your chunk. Typically, marketers use Instagram bots for mundane tasks like liking posts, following new accounts, and leaving comments on the posts.

Some brands also use Instagram automation tools for more advanced tasks. For instance, you can plug in specific parameters for targeting. 

With these settings, bots could leave comments on posts that have a particular hashtag or even automatically follow accounts that are in the follower lists of your competitors.

Typically, brands use bots to automate the following tasks:

  • Liking comments 
  • Following accounts 
  • Unfollowing accounts
  • Scheduling posts
  • Sending Direct Messages
  • Posting comments

You can think of Instagram bots like marketing automation software. The basic idea behind creating Instagram bots was to automate interactions with other users and their frequency. 

They can increase your visibility in the activity feed. This, in turn, can translate into more profile visits, followers, and engagement. 

What’s more, you don’t need to spend hours of your time finding relevant accounts and posting comments. Bots can do all the dirty groundwork for you.

However, that’s only one side of the story. 

Why Using Instagram Bots is a Bad Idea

On the surface, it may seem like bots can help you grow your Instagram account. They seem perfect for entrepreneurs who are short on time. But there is a dark side to Instagram bots as well. 

No Authenticity

While they may help you inflate your follower number, they may not help you get quality engagement. For the most part, bots leave extremely generic comments on other posts. 

They are likely to leave comments like, “What a great picture!” or “Your profile looks great.” Sometimes they may even promote other businesses and Instagram profiles in comments.

Not only does that come across as overly promotional, but the comment also loses the element of authenticity. With bots, it’s impossible to connect with your target audience genuinely. 

Inappropriate Responses

Using Instagram bots can land you in extremely embarrassing situations. Think about it. What happens if your bot posts a comment like “Looks beautiful!” on a tragic post. In such a case, you would end up putting your foot in your mouth. At other times, the comments may just be irrelevant to the content of the post.

Image via Twitter

Since the software handles them, there is no context for the comments. Empathy and personalisation are essential ingredients for connecting with your audience on Instagram. With bots, you’re going to miss out on that human touch.

Even a minor gaffe or a single inappropriate response can end up damaging your brand’s overall reputation. 

Violation of Terms of Use

Apart from creating cringe-worthy situations, there are more serious problems with using Instagram automation. The biggest one — you’ll be violating the terms of use of Instagram. According to their terms of use, you can’t access Instagram’s API by any other means than those that are permitted by Instagram.

That’s where bots can put your brand reputation at stake. Here are some of the basic terms of use listed on Instagram that you may violate by using Instagram automation:

  • Don't store or cache Instagram login credentials.
  • Don't use an unreasonable amount of bandwidth, or adversely impact the stability of servers or the behaviour of other apps using the Instagram Platform.
  • Ensure your comments are uniquely tailored for each person. Don't post unauthorized commercial communications or spam on Instagram.
  • Don't use the Instagram Platform to simply display User Content, import or backup content, or manage Instagram relationships, without our prior permission.
  • Don't enable a business to take more than one action on Instagram at a time.

Most people don’t bother to read the full terms of use for any software. That can be tricky. Instagram automation companies risk getting shut down by Instagram. Not just that, if you use any of those tools, you may get into trouble too. 

In 2017, Instagress, one of the most popular names for automation on Instagram was shut down. There were no details about what happened, but their website showed a message  that read, “by request of Instagram, we were forced to close our web-service.”

While there was no official clarification, the word was out that the shutdown was a result of their violating Instagram’s terms of use.

Image via Sked Social

Around the same time, many Instagram profiles were hit by a shadowban. For the uninitiated, it is a term that refers to the filtering process adopted by Instagram for those accounts who violated their terms of use. 

Any account that was hit by a shadowban would basically become invisible. Their posts would not appear in the hashtag search results. This could heavily limit the ability of any business to reach out to a new audience. Because of this, engagement could also dwindle.  

There were several reasons for an account to be hit by a shadowban. However, one of the main reasons was the usage of automation or bots. Accounts that used tools like Instagress, Mass Planner, Social Envy, Boostly, and others became especially vulnerable. 

However, scheduling posts is not a big issue. You can use various scheduling tools like Sprout Social, Later, and others to schedule your posts.

How to Grow Your Presence on Instagram Without Using Instagram Automation

As you can see from the points listed above, brands should avoid Instagram automation. It’s just not worth taking the risk. 

So, what are the alternatives to grow your Instagram account? Is there any other way you can reap the benefits without using bots? Yes, there are several different ways you can do it. Here are some of them:

1. Hire a Freelancer or a Virtual Assistant

This is the most obvious way out — hire an employee, freelancer, or a virtual assistant to manage your Instagram profile. Sure, you’ll need to stretch your budget a bit. After all, bots are considerably cheaper. However, you also need to consider the quality of work. 

When a person comments on posts, they are likely to respond with relevant and authentic comments. Moreover, they can verify if a profile looks shady before they start following it. 

2. Handle All the Work By Yourself

If you don’t have a budget to hire someone, you need to step up to do all of the groundwork. You’ll have to be your own social media manager. Or alternatively, you can also ask one of your employees to handle your Instagram account for you. 

That means you may need to carve out more time to work on your Instagram strategy. To make your work easier, you can use Instagram marketing tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and others. They can help you keep track of your Instagram campaigns and stay on top of trends.

3. Leverage Instagram Ads

Want quick results without using bots and annoying users with spammy comments? You can leverage Instagram Ads. They can help you reach more people, thereby improving your chances of boosting your engagement. 

It’s a paid method, so you will need to allocate some budget for advertising on Instagram. If targeting is done right, it can be a great way to reach your audience.

While photo ads are standard, you can also explore video ads, Stories ads, collection ads, and carousel ads. Whichever types of ads you use, make sure that you use prominent call-to-action buttons. They can get your more leads and boost sales and engagement.

Image via Newsfeed

Final Thoughts

For marketers, it can be tempting to try out Instagram automation. After all, who doesn’t like getting their work done for them? However, using Instagram bots can be tricky. It is like stepping into murky waters. 

Bots lack the authenticity that humans can provide in conversations. They may end up posting inappropriate or irrelevant comments. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

The biggest issue with Instagram automation is that it directly violates the platform’s terms of use. If you’re using Instagram bots, you risk getting banned from the platform itself.

Even though using bots seems like the easy choice, it’s not worth taking the risk. Instead, you should invest your time, energy, and money into growing your account on your own. It’s the best approach to developing a successful Instagram marketing strategy.

Ready to put in the hard work to grow your Instagram account? Ready? Set! Go!

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