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Instagram Bots: The Age of Automation

Any form of automation is a fascinating addition to any work environment. Technological advancements are making jobs easier for workers and saving dollars for employers. This definitely freaks some people out – “what will happen to our jobs?” scream critics. Plenty of sectors are dealing with automation and AI coming into play, but in the business world there’s little time to be reluctant and we’ve simply got to sink or swim. The good news is that there are plenty of products coming on the market that indeed make things easier for us marketers. With so many changes in social media all the time, we’ve truly got to stay on top of all the new features out there. For those of us who are really on top of, we critically examine the potential flaws in technology and avoid being blindsided by a faulty product whenever possible.

In the world of marketing, there are several new and old tools for automation. Some are great, others need time for improvement. Boy, are we ever lucky that we have social media management products that make it far easier to manage our clients’ portfolios! We aren’t sponsored here so I won’t give a shout out but there are loads of scheduling and analytical tools out there that allow us to work on multiple platforms in one place. Imagine having to go in and write a real-time post on Facebook for a bunch of clients – it isn’t practical and doesn’t allow for proofreading or approvals. Other products… like Instagram bots are ones we shy away from for now.

Instagram bots are a sure-fire way to have your account suspended!

Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t, but if you’ve got an Instagram bot, the company is cracking down on accounts like yours to avoid the destruction of the social experience (1). Now, if you don’t know what an Instagram bot is, I’m sure you’ve interacted with one if you have an account. Have you ever noticed a company or an influencer with, say, 10,000 followers that continually follows and unfollows you? Maybe you’ve noticed a gigantic brand started following you? We all like to think we are very important and special, but that brand is not following you for your content most of the time. Most of the time, it’s their bot! Bots can be used to grow a following and to automate the process of engagement. Nobody wants a dud follower who doesn’t love and comment on everything you do! Bots attempt to build the perception that the accounts they are associated with are concerned about your content and will engage with you.

At SWAY, we use organic engagement. We connect with people in a thoughtful, human way.

We take time to leave thoughtful, relevant comments and give love to our follower’s content. We try to respond to inquiries with heart and detail in the same way we would if we were internal employees. The difference – we have time to focus on giving the brand life while internal employees focus on the day-to-day business stuff.

So, we have this approach, but why? Bots lack context and Instagram isn’t a fan of this as much as you aren’t. Sure, writing “incredible!” never really felt like a human connection anyways, but what about when it’s inappropriate? Take a quick search online or hop on Twitter and you’ll find disheartening stories of Instagram bots all over. A bot commenting “Jealous!” in essence isn’t terrible but what makes it terrible is when that comment lands on a very personal post about the recent death of a friend/ loved one/ pet (2). Now that’s awkward. Better yet, when bots are programmed to comment with questions to get more of a response…. You’ve posted online how crappy the last month has been and how you’re just over it, then, incomes a bot saying “Lovely! Where did you take this?”.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… “We don’t need to share everything with the public anyway!”. Well, we do... I do, you do, we all do and that’s the way of the world. Until the technology catches up, we think it’s best to step away from Instagram bots. Automated “thanks for following” messages are ok, awkward comments are not. The risk of damaging a personal or business brand with this type of automation greatly outweighs the functionality. It’s a lot more work to actively represent a page and provide engagement to large followings, but if you can’t handle it there’s plenty of places to outsource to. Take the time to provide human interaction on social media, after all, isn’t that the original intended purpose?


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