Scary kid with a mask in dark woods

Building an engaged audience 👥 on Instagram is a challenging task (we know it ourselves!). It takes a lot of creativity, skill and time. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools an Instagrammer can use to make their work easier. From photo and video editing software, to marketing and analytics tools, there is an app for virtually everything. This includes apps, often labeled as “Instagram bots”, that automate time-consuming tasks, such as liking and commenting.

You should not be scared of automation 🤖. It can do wonders for your Instagram profile. What you should be wary of, though, are three black-hat techniques that most bots employ.

Followers farms

“Buying” followers in bulk 🛍️ might seem like a good idea at first, but has harmful consequences. First of all, in all the cases, these are fake followers. They might engage with your profile at first by liking some posts, commenting and following your profile, but these are all superficial. They don’t bring any substance and, believe me when I say that, brands will know. It’s as simple as checking the number of accounts the new followers are following themselves (well above 1,000) and how often they engage with you or your content (usually only once). Even better is to check followers count over time – when you see “stairs” in a chart it usually means the new followers have been bought. There are tools (e.g. SocialBlade) that marketing people use that make it super easy to analyze an Instagram profile and its audience.

Example pricing plan of a service where you can buy followers
Example pricing plan of a service where you can buy followers

Don’t buy followers ❌. It’s a waste of money, even though it might feel good at the beginning. In the end, it’s engagement that matters the most and only white-hat techniques can help you with that (more on that later).

The “follow-unfollow” technique

This one’s a typical black-hat technique. Bots offering follow-unfollow automation will search for Instagram profiles based on some criteria, follow them and, after some period of time, unfollow them. The assumption here is that target Instagram accounts will follow you back 🕵️‍♀️. It might work for a while, however it requires a lot of scrutiny. Normally, Instagram accounts you follow this way will check how many profiles you’re following and simply ignore you when they see a high “Following” number. You would have to ensure that number stays low by methodically unfollowing at regular intervals. Mind, though, it’s relatively easy to cross the “500” followers threshold, reducing reach of your account.

Even if people follow you back, that doesn’t guarantee they will engage with your content. They might already follow a lot of accounts themselves, making it hard for your Instagram to stand out in a stream of content they see.

Additionally, you might get negative feedback for using this technique, since it only benefits you and is not healthy for the Instagram community. It’s simply viewed as unfair.

What’s most important, Instagram is on the lookout for profiles that perform follow-unfollow on a massive scale. It’s very easy to get a temporary ban for using this technique in an automated fashion, since Instagram has put strong limits on following and unfollowing.

Avoid this at all costs ❌.

Auto-commenting on Instagram posts

One of the ways of letting people know about your Instagram profile is commenting on their posts. Honest, non-trivial comments can do wonders both in terms of driving traffic to your profile as well as building relationships on Instagram.

Auto-commenting, a feature a lot of traditional bots offer, is hard to get right under normal circumstances. Comments made by bots are often a combination of generic remarks and emoji, often posted out of context. This can lead to awkward situations when comments like “Awesome picture!!! ❤️❤️❤️” end up under a post about someone passing away. That’s definitely not something you want to happen, since it harms your credibility.

Most likely replies made by Instagram bots
Bots are strong in this one

There’s another reason not to use auto-commenting: shamers. There exist Facebook Pages and Instagram profiles dedicated to making fun of Instagram accounts using auto-commenting. Getting featured on such a Page or profile can create a bad reputation for your Instagram and ultimately drive people – either existing or potential followers – away.

What’s the alternative?

Fortunately, there are white-hat automation techniques you can use to grow your Instagram account. Followyst, for example, allows you to perform in an automated way:

  • Liking posts of people following specific Instagram profiles.
  • Liking posts with a given hashtag.
  • Liking posts tagged with a specific place.
  • Liking posts of your followers.
  • Removing fake followers (powered by bots).

The above are things you should be doing anyways, so automating these makes a lot of sense. Especially since it can result in a follower gain of +200 to +600 per month, backed by real-world data we gathered.

Bloggerka kulinarna (12.2k obserwujących)

In summary

While growing your Instagram audience takes a lot of effort and time, you should be careful not to use black-hat techniques to cut some corners. Buying followers, using “follow-unfollow” or using auto-commenters will surely backfire, rather sooner than later. There are, however, things you could automate, liking in particular, and Followyst can help you with that.

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[…] “Follow” them, but only if your intention is to keep following them in the future (see why in Harmful Instagram automations to avoid). Keep in mind, however, that you should not follow more than 500 profiles, otherwise your content […]

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