We Tried Instagram Automation and Here's What Happened

When we first start working with a new client, something we often get asked about is Instagram automation. The brands and business that we work with often want to know why they should sign a contract with a Social Media Marketing firm when they could just sign up for various automated apps that promise to grow their Instagram following with virtually no time or financial investment.

Whenever we get asked about automated community management on Instagram, our response is always the same: it's inorganic, ineffective and won't be productive for your business.

In saying this, however, we realised that we don't really have any concrete information surrounding automated community management on Instagram. To get a better idea of the effectiveness, we decided to try out some of those services that promise to grow your Instagram followers in a short period of time. we approached our little experiment with an open mind and were actually quite hopeful that we might have found a corner cutting method to Social Media Marketing on Instagram.

Instagram Automation

For our little experiment, there were a few things we wanted to try. We wanted to try automated liking and commenting, meaning a bot would like and comment on random Instagram photos in an attempt to garner engagement by grabbing the attention of the user's who Instagram posts the bot was commenting on on our behalf. We wanted to try automated crowd following, a practice we already knew was fairly useless, which involves following a large number of Instagram users in the hopes that they will follow your back. Lastly, we wanted to try receiving automated likes, which involves delivering likes to each of the images that we were sharing on Instagram. 

Instagram Automation: To Do, or Not To Do

We started our little Instagram automation experiment with 2,500 followers, which were the culmination of being active in the Instagram community for almost a full year. The first Instagram automation tool that we tried was Instagress.  

Instagress promises to "automate everything". They will crowd follow for you, like other users' posts and comment of other users' posts as well. Their software also allows their customers to customise all of their automation services, so that you can follow Instagram users based on location, or certain hashtags they use in their posts.

With Instagress, you can select a few different generic comments to leave on different Instagram posts. For this, we selected some very generic comments like "great photo" and "WOW!" We figured these comments would fit most situations and would help to get our Instagram account noticed. We also asked Instgress to follow other accounts on our behalf.

We checked our Instagram account after just one hour and found that we had the new followers and a tonne of new likes and comments on our posts. To get these new followers, Instagress had followed a tonne of accounts, however, so our following to follower ratio was drastically skewed.

Instagram Automation: An Experiment Cut Short

Instagress offers a 3-day trial, and at the start of this little experiment, we decided we would try their services for the full three days and then move on to another Instagram automation service in order to compare the different service providers. Unfortunately, when we went to check the progress of our little experiment after the second hour, we were very surprised to find that our Instagram account had been deleted.

Instagram automation is against Instagram's Community Guidelines. When you break Instagram's Community Guidelines, it turns out that they have the right to close-down your account without notice and without the possibility of it being restored.

Despite our appeal to Instagram, and our repeated apologies, we were not able to get our Instagram account restored to us. Our account, all of the images we had painstakingly created, all of the followers we had built a relationship, all of it was gone. We were forced to restart our Instagram account and build it from the ground up.

Instagram Automation: Lesson Learned

While losing your Instagram account, and all of the hard work that you put into it, is disappointing, we did go into this Instagram automation experiment with the goal of having tangible experience with why brands and business should not turn to Instagram automation for their Social Media Marketing needs. We may have walked away from this experiment without an Instagram account, but we did gain a cautionary tale.

Now that we know how NOT to grow your Instagram audience, we can focus on building our Instagram following back up by reinserting ourselves into our Instagram community. We'd love for you to be a part of our Instagram community. You can give us a follow here