There’s been a great deal of discussion about #InstaFraud over on Twitter recently. From simple, snide digs directed at suspected Insta-fakers, to all-out witch hunts, where users have openly ‘named and shamed’ users using bots to game their Instagram follower numbers.
Is this any better than buying Instagram followers? People would have you think that both are crimes punishable by death looking at some Social Media conversations…
What is a ‘bot’ though?
A bot is an automated program which will do all the leg work for you. Instagress, for example, would target specific hashtags, users and locations that you set up. You have the option to ‘like’ ‘follow’ and/or ‘comment’ on these targeted users.
You can set up the number of users to target per day. You can also set it up to unfollow accounts that don’t follow you back.
Whether you agree with using bots or not is another discussion. I personally can see the pros of them, but alongside that there are many cons as a user.
I signed up for a bot called Instagress. Since signing up a few months ago the service has now been closed. More than likely as a reaction to the Inta-Fraud witch hunt.
Instagress claim on the website disclaimer all activity has stopped for users who were using it. However, mine is still working and I cannot turn it off via the website?!
Before Instagress, I would manually sit on Instagram scrolling hashtags for ages, looking for pictures to like and comment on. A kind of subliminal networking technique. With Instagram becoming increasingly difficult to be ‘noticed’ on, with a very complex algorithm, you have to do this manual engagement to attract more users. Instagress did this for me. It’s a lazy gals technique to get more followers and engagement.
The way that people went wrong with bots like this, is that they got greedy.
You only have to look at the screenshots people were sharing on Twitter to see how some Instagram influencers took their following from a few thousand to 70k+ by following/unfollowing/commenting/liking thousands of users per day. I even noticed one girl who, when I first discovered her 3 years ago, had a healthy and authentic 12k following, who has now got 50k+ by using posts. I’m unsure what the point of her doing that was, as brands tend to favour users with 10k+ anyway? Sniping aside….
During the 3-4 months of using Instragress, I have gained around 2k more users. My cap was 20 ‘interactions’ per day. The accounts I follow has stayed around the same at 500ish.
The downside of bots
As I say, there are many cons of using bots – even when you use them in a more neutral way, as I have done.
One thing which annoyed me the most, was the erratic skipping of the parameters I had put in to it.
You target UK only users and every other day it goes rogue and followers an abundance of users from around the world.
You put a setting in to target #bbloggers with a generic ‘heart emoji’ – it ends up liking small boys on the beach in India. Only for them to then inbox you asking for a date… (this happened more than once in the first [and only] day I had this setting on).
Your Instagram timeline also becomes a gallery of really shit pictures and quotes.
You stop seeing images from users you genuinely liked the aesthetic of.
Once the bot stops you have to almost re-set the tailored algorithm so you can get users you like back in to the top of your feed.
Another thing to take note of, is that as soon as the bot stops you lose followers. Despite the followers not being ‘bought’ and ‘authentic’ accounts, I seemed to see my followers drop by 100-200 each time my 30 days of Instagress ran out.
You’ll also lose ‘likes’ – just like in MySpace days, a majority of people on Instagram only seem to ‘like for like’ (I suppose that’s what the point of bots is really though, eh?).
In the first month of Instagress I was getting upwards of 100 likes per post.
Now, on the 4th month I’m getting around 50ish if I’m lucky.
The Moral of the Story?
Don’t be greedy
Don’t be lazy
Don’t try and game any Social Media system – just like we saw with SEO, these dodgy techniques only come back around as algorithms become more advance.
3 years ago, you could link your website off any old wank website and get to the top of Google and now? If you do that your website is straight to page 5, if you’re lucky.
And don’t even get me started on Instagram ‘pods’….