What Are Instagram Bots And Should You Be Using Them?

By Holly Godfrey

Instagram could be an invaluable tool for your company – but on a platform with 25 million other business accounts, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.

In an ideal world, you’d draw in thousands of followers with your engaging, on-brand content – and that is possible – but in a competitive market, many business profiles find they have to interact with other users in order to get their attention. Unfortunately, not everybody has time to like, comment, and follow back users on top of the day-to-day running of their business.

That’s why some brands have turned to bots. Instagram bots are automated tools that follow other users and interact with their content on the premise that they’ll be followed back. They’re marketed as an efficient way to build a following, but like any quick fix, they have their drawbacks. Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

Pros:

Build your followers with minimum effort

Bots are programmed to engage with specific content, allowing you to target users that are likely to be interested in your band. They essentially do the grunt work for you, freeing you up to focus on content creation and running your business.

Interact with other users

By commenting on and liking other users’ content, bots can make it seem like your brand is interactive and personable. This may or may not be good for your image, depending on your brand identity.

Cons:

Awkward, tone-deaf interactions

Bots have zero cultural sensitivity. Their activity is determined by their programming, and on a social media platform, this can yield some unpredictable results. A bot could inadvertently comment a smiley face on a funeral photo, or follow an offensive profile, damaging the image of your brand. Even if the bot does manage to avoid offense, automated interactions can come across as creepy. By commenting blindly on other users’ personal photos, a bot might be more likely to turn people off than draw them in.

Burying relevant posts

If you’re at all invested in your business profile’s Instagram feed, bots are not for you. A bot’s ‘follow’ function will fill your feed with the content of random users. If you want to see the content of accounts you’re interested in, you’ll have to search for them on your profile. That may or may not be an issue for you, depending on how you use Instagram.

Violating Instagram’s Terms of Use

This is probably the biggest setback of Instagram bots. Instagram bots violate the platform’s terms of use – which is why popular bot website Instagress was shut down in 2017. If your account activity looks unnatural to Instagram, it will impose a ‘shadowban’, so you won’t be discovered as easily by new people. This could be detrimental to your social media strategy.

Overall, bots aren’t a great idea if you want your brand to maintain a sense of authenticity. If the public has reason to believe you’re using deceptive tactics to build followers, you might lose the audience you’ve already got. Instant followers aren’t worth sullying your image. The best way to build your Instagram following is to hire a social media strategist who understands your target audience and how to best engage with them.

Contact Department Of The Future here to learn about how we can create a strategy for your social media platforms.

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