Why you shouldn’t automate your Instagram strategy

Social media is supposed to be a place for humans to connect with other humans from all over the world, based on shared interests. They might also opt into following certain brands they love that are part of those interests. But they still want to interact with those brands on a human level, using human language.

When you choose to automate your strategy- whether you’re a brand or a personal brand like an influencer- you very quickly lose that human element. (And we’re talking about fully automating your strategy by outsourcing it to companies that sell likes, follows and comments. We don’t mean drafting posts ahead of time or other smart, time-saving moves.)

While you might make some short-term gains in the form of a boost in followers or likes, bigger more important factors like community building and engagement rates will fall over time. And your brand trust can take a big hit, which is the biggest problem and the hardest to recover from of them all.

So here’s why you shouldn’t automate your Instagram strategy.

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API reasons

We recently posted about how algorithm changes are affecting influencer marketing, and a big part of changes on Instagram are their recently announced, forthcoming API changes.

SHIFT Comm wrote a great, more in-depth piece about this we encourage you to read, but the basics can be summed up like this: Many of the automated services that affordably offer to like, follow and unfollow, and/or comment on photos on behalf of a user are built on APIs that are being shut down later this year.

If your Instagram strategy relies on these automated services, “the free ride is over” as SHIFT put it. If it’s a strategy you’ve been considering because you’re frustrated with how your organic growth is going, but you haven’t done it yet, hold out.

There’s another good reason why.

Brand safety reasons

The problem with bots leaving automated comments on Instagram photos based on hashtags is that they don’t have the ability to put that photo and the comment they’re about to leave on it in context. At the very least this leads to annoying comments, and at its worst, inappropriate and/or tone-deaf automated comments could cause a crisis for your brand.

Avoid it entirely by doing things the old fashioned way and having a real human person leave comments. It takes more time, but it actually builds an authentic community in the course of that time.

Bot clean outs

Who here remembers the Great Instagram Panic of 2014, when many users saw huge drops in follower numbers as Instagram purged bot accounts?

The same thing could easily happen again, and it’s just as embarrassing now as it was then to be caught having bought a large number of your followers.

Brand trust, once lost, is incredibly difficult to gain back.

Influencer marketing

Finally, you can read our influencer marketing vs. algorithms post if you want a deeper dive on that across platforms, but the bottom line is that if you want to work with high-quality influencers you should expect the same standards from yourself.

There is no shortcut or magic formula to success on Instagram.

There are only best practices, creativity in creating content and testing that content on your audience that you’ve done the work to get to know and nurtured along the way.

If you need help measuring that, let us know. You can always start with our account checkup for free.

Want more engagement on Instagram? Our checkup analyzes the last 30 days of posts, likes and comments on your account to quickly give you key insights into how to improve.

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