Often hailed as the future of social media, and the answer to low numbers, Instabots are taking over Instagram like an oil spill in Antartica. But are they as useful as they appear? I tested one for a month, and this is what I learned.
“Free 2 week trial of Instabots* after that pay only $49 a month!”
The ad told me, I snorted derisively. I hate Instabots, replacing genuine engagement with soulless likes and meaningless comments was against everything I spoke about with my clients.
But, as I went to click away from the site, I hesitated.
I have not been subtle in my contempt for bots, but I could be mistaken?
What if these bots are the way of the future? What if they make life easier? How can I say they are no good if I have never used one?
After a brief internal debate, I decided to give it a go, and like an 18 year old on a porn site, I shamefully entered my credit card details.
After inputting my CC details, I entered some guidelines of how I wanted the bots to act, and waited eagerly to be flooded by a tsunami of likes, followers, and new customers begging to work with me.
The Month Of Bots
The rest of day one; no results.
Checking Instagram on day two yielded me 5 new follows, 15 likes, and 3 new messages. 3 NEW MESSAGES! This is it, people have seen my work, and they love me. I was all wrong about the bots.
As I opened the message centre I was pumped, what will it be? A new 20 page website offer, Ghostwriting a 100,000 word novel, Ongoing graphic design work for a Fortune 500 corporation.
“Good morning AK, I don’t like insta, let’s move to www.spammysite.com.”
“Hi Sexy, want to see my FULL profile, check me out at www.anotherspammysite.com”
“Hi AK, thanks for following me, do you want to gain 5000 followers in less than a day?”
Alas, the messages didn’t turn out to be the goldmine I was hoping for, but the software was doing something, I retweaked some guidelines and let it go again.
Day Three, 20 more followers, 10 new messages, and I was now following 1500 more accounts. I go through the messages with cautious optimism.
4 sexy spammy sites
3 promising more likes
2 offering me women’s tights
and another one written in Chinese.
I was becoming disenchanted with the messages, I felt like a hot girl on a dating app, no one wanted to get to know me, they just wanted to use me for my assets, in this case, my assets were money.
Day 4 to 10, more followers, more unrelated messages, now following 3000 accounts.
Day 11, banned from liking any images for two days, I could not show support to anyone I genuinely followed because the software had gone on a liking spree, much like a drunk dude on a dating app at 1 am.
Day 15, I was disappointed with the bot’s performance, it had technically done what it was meant to, it increased my account, I was sitting on 600 followers, and 4000 followings, the daily spam messages kept coming in. But what good are all these followers if they aren’t your target audience?
Then it hit me, many of the accounts liking my account were also using bots, if these bots were programmed to like content from people it is following, I could use the bots to auto like my images, and boost my standing in hashtags, which would help me be more visible to my target audience. Ash, you flippin genius!
Create a quick picture, put in a collection of hashtags, and post.
Day 16, 20 likes, over 600 followers, and only 20 likes, these bots are bull stuff.
Day 17 to 30, the end result. 945 followers, 6,351 followings, a message centre so full of spammy sex messages I am worried my inbox will get gonorrhea, like bans every other day, and not one genuine enquiry.
My month long experiment had concluded.
Was it worth investing in the Instabot?
My follower base went from 200 to 945, I got new likes across my feed, and received several messages a day.
Unfortunately of those 945 new followers maybe 2% were part of my target audience, this reduced my chances of having meaningful engagement.
The number of likes within two hours of posting an image did not increase enough to make a difference to Instagram’s algorithm.
The like ban further limited my chances for genuine engagement by not letting me like people who I follow because I enjoyed their content.
Plus, I am still considering giving my inbox a shot of penicillin.
In my opinion, if you are only chasing high followers and likes, the Instabots are fine.
But, if you are trying to reach your target market, and engage with them on a genuine and consistent basis, these Instabots will be about as useful as a parachute in a submarine.
For me, it is a hard no.
*Changed name of software in order to not be sued.