We live in an age of social media influencers, where bigger follower numbers on Instagram mean bigger campaigns and more money. Building a following and improving engagement takes a lot of time and effort, so many individuals and companies looking for a better presence are turning to bots instead of humans to get the job done. The problem is that these bots, which is software designed to do an automated task, can’t exactly recognize the difference between a good photo, bad photo, sad photo, etc. They are based on things like recognizing hashtags, so sometimes that leads to very insincere Instagram posts that scream “I’m not a real person.”
The Problem with Using Bots
While using bots on Instagram to follow and unfollow based on hashtags is usually pretty effective, the only side effect being the slew of odd accounts you now apparently like, using them for comments is just annoying and usually very obvious. One of the repeat offenders is the comment “Inspiring content! 🙌🏼”, that shows up on everything from pics of me washing the dog, to a photo of a chicken dinner. Is that really inspiring? It’s gotten so bad that I’m reluctant to comment on things that ARE actually inspiring and have to come up with something else to say.
It takes a little extra effort to be “real” but you end up with more quality followers and a more a natural engagement that grows organically when you respond to real people with real comments.
Automated fake comments are not helping you. When I posted this photo on Facebook, tons of people replied that they too, had been hit up by the Sally Fashion Scout, obviously run by a bot. I don’t know what hashtag made them notice me, but I’m pretty sure my mermaid tank top, toy reciprocating saw and Home Depot apron are not “gorgeous, OMG.”
So what can you do to improve your Instagram following and engagement and NOT look like an annoying bot?
Read the caption before posting your comment. The caption may actually say something different than the photo. Like if someone posts a photo of their grandma that just passed away, and it’s a nice sweet photo but the caption is about how sad they are, you don’t want to just skim over that with a double-tap and “great content!”
Find photos to comment on yourself by targeting hashtags you are personally interested in. For example, I usually search #momblogs or #momlife to find similar Instagram accounts I might be interested in following.
Use your own hashtags wisely and you’ll get comments on your photos as well. There’s also apps that will create hashtags for you based on your keywords.
Comment back on accounts that comment on your photos. Try to do something other than just a smiley face or thumbs up. I don’t usually bother checking out accounts that do that.
Respond to comments on your own photos. I often delete the obviously spammy ones, but sometimes I also find it entertaining to respond to them, like I did in the post above.
Even though I try to abide by my own rules, even I’m guilty of the occasional thumbs-up response or generic “Great pic!” when it really is a great pic but I can’t think of anything better to say. And if I feel it really is inspiring content? I’ll think of some other way to put it. It takes a little extra effort to be “real” but you end up with more quality followers and a more a natural engagement that grows organically when you respond to real people with real comments.
*As of November 19, Instagram cracked down on accounts that use 3rd party apps (or bots) to build a following! So hopefully that will lead to a lot less of these silly comments and people who follow then unfollow.