Instagram Bots: Do They Work?

Grow Your Social Media Channels In 2017

It’s 2017, and there’s more money than ever in social media and internet marketing services. You can now pay for Instagram bots, automation tools designed to help mimic real Instagram activity. Whether you want to admit it or not, your social capital is directly influencing your ROI: in fact, more than 74% of customers rely on social media to guide their purchasing decisions[1]. As humans, we place a great amount of trust in peer reviews, ratings and companies with a greater social media following. Social media gives brands a chance to interact directly and immediately with their customers, in turn giving you that the opportunity to build trust with your consumers. But what if you don’t have a great social media presence?

What you may not realise is that all the world’s biggest, most successful companies are using internet marketing services to help improve their social capital, engagement and social media growth. In 2015, Amazon spent US$2.8 Billion on digital marketing, according to PR Newswire.[2] Now we don’t all have a few billion to spend, and you may be looking for a more cost-effective way to help grow your business’ Instagram account – cue the rise in a large number of websites offering ‘Instagram Bots’ or the opportunity to purchase followers, likes and comments on your social media platforms for as little as $10 a month. Could this be a better option than paying for social media advertising, or putting in the hours of work yourself?

Instagram Bots – The Rise of Automation Tools

Instagram robots are designed to help you perform actions such as following, liking and commenting on other Instagram accounts automatically. These are actions most Instagram users perform on a daily basis and can help you to build and maintain engagement with other accounts – but it’s also really time consuming. If you purchase an Instagram bot, it does all the work for you. Now, if you’re thinking this sounds too good to be true, you’re probably right.

Instagram bots explicitly violate Instagram’s Terms of Use, which state:

You must not access Instagram’s private API by means other than those permitted by Instagram. Use of Instagram’s API is subject to a separate set of terms.

Within it’s API Terms, automated bots violate the following:

  1. Don’t store or cache Instagram login credentials.
  2. Don’t use the Instagram API to simply display User Content, import or backup content, or manage Instagram relationships, without our prior permission.
  3. Ensure your comments are uniquely tailored for each person. Don’t post unauthorized commercial communication or spam on Instagram.
  4. Don’t enable a business to take more than one action on Instagram at a time.
  5. Add something unique to the community. Don’t use the Instagram APIs to replicate or attempt to replace the functionality or essential user experiences of Instagram.com or any of Instagram’s apps.

Despite this, if you search ‘Instagram bots’ in your search engine, it’s highly likely you’ll see plenty of websites out there offering up their services. So you’re probably wondering – can you get caught by Instagram using a bot – and more importantly, will a bot help you improve your ROI?

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Do Instagram Robots Work?

Most Instagram bots follow the same pattern: they follow accounts as you, like posts as you, and comment on posts as you. Depending on how savvy you are in choosing the hashtags for the bots to target and the comments you write, there is evidence that you can gain some success using them.[1] However, they can also heavily clog your newsfeed with random accounts the bot has followed, and essentially drown out all the accounts you may want to keep tabs on.

You will gain followers using Instagram bots. But, it is likely you will be lacking in engagement. Engagement is just as equally an important part of building your Instagram ‘community’ with accounts who support your brand and content, and you’ll find that if you are a bot, generally, you’ll attract bots. You may get comments on your content, but it’s likely most of them will be from other accounts using Instagram bots and at the end of the day, that’s not going to help your business grow!

Can You Get Caught Out Violating Instagram’s Terms of Use?

In short, yes. Instagram is constantly improving its processes to ensure that websites and accounts who violate its Terms of Use are penalised. One of the most popular bot websites, Instagress, recently experienced this first hand (and they no longer exist). Instagram has sophisticated tracking measures that know when a bot is at work, and they can lock or shut down accounts they believe to be acting in a ‘suspicious’ manner. You may have to reset your password, wait 24 hours for your account to be reactivated, be banned from posting or commenting, or, in a worst-case-scenario – they may delete your Instagram account altogether.

Early in 2017, Instagram introduced its latest penalty: shadowbanning. Whilst Instagram has not acknowledged a shadow ban, it has been widely accepted by industry experts that there is some kind of penalty in place for accounts using bots, and excessive use of hashtags. Shadowbanning refers to Instagram reducing or completely removing your visibility, without letting you know about it. You will not be able to tell that you are the victim of a shadowban from your own account, but to accounts who do not follow you – you will become invisible.[1]

What Can You Do Instead To Help Grow Your Social Media Accounts?

Instagram’s response to complaints and questions has been this: they advised their users to be more creative and unique, post good content, tell stories and build a strong growth strategy, without using bots, automation or focusing on hashtags. Does this sound like a lot of hard work to you? Read on.

How Do Internet Marketing Services Help?

If you’re serious about growing your social media accounts, but are unsure on where to start, how to create a ‘growth strategy’ or don’t have the time to be creating awesome content – digital and internet marketing services can help. As a business, having social media accounts with a decent following can and will improve your ROI by increasing your sales, online visibility and, if you have engaged followers, create a sense of brand loyalty and trust. Digital marketing services can help you to establish a social media growth strategy, posting calendar, create advertisements that fit with your brand and style, and help manage your online reputation. If you’re looking to help grow your social media channels without using robots, take advantage of Be Media’s 30-minute strategy session to find out how we can help improve your ROI.

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[1] https://flothemes.com/grow-your-instagram-organically/

[1] https://blog.hootsuite.com/i-tried-instagram-automation-so-you-dont-have-to/

[1] http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/social-media-marketing/3-out-of-4-consumers-consult-social-media-before-buying/1659

[2] http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/amazon-upped-its-digital-marketing-spend-40-last-year-to-28-billion-300026351.html