Should you let a bot administer your Instagram account?

social media, social media marketing, digital marketing, digital marketing agency

With the enormous amount of data available in social networks, the challenges imposed by the market, the growing demands of consumers, and the broad competition; Digital Marketing teams face tasks that are increasingly complex, extensive and laborious. This panorama has made the bots, as automation tools, gain relevance, and become synonymous with speed and efficiency. But are they really so effective, reliable and convenient?

At first glance, these digital robots seem to be the perfect solution to optimize work times, avoiding the waste of valuable minutes, in repetitive tasks. And, certainly, that is not so wrong. However, when we think in more detail, analyzing different flanks, the perception begins to change.

The company made an interesting experiment with followers of Instagram, to see how effective the presence of a bot on the platform was, replacing human interaction. The results may surprise several. But to understand them, let’s start by discovering how the test was developed.

As for the other social networks, the bots to Instagram using the API of this platform to connect to your account and perform actions automatically (comment, do Likes, mentions or even follow or unfollow other users) on your first name.

Its use is quite simple; you just have to connect the bots with your Instagram account and configure some parameters depending on what you want the bot to do. Then you just have to activate it and the program will take care of the rest.

Now you can think. And how useful is this? Well, very simple, these bots are normally used to get followers automatically, using techniques, such as:

  • Follow/Unfollow- The bot begins to follow randomly to dozens of users per minute, so that if for example 1 in 30 of these people returns the Follow, in a few hours you will add hundreds of new followers. To match the number of people you follow with the number of followers you have, the bot goes on Unfollow every few minutes.
  • Automatic comments- Here you indicate to the bot with which hashtag to filter the photos you want to comment and to finish the text of the comment that the bot will publish in all those photos. As the bot will automatically publish the same comment in all the photos, a generic text is usually used so that the comment fits in any photo.
  • With these massive comments, the bot manages to attract the attention of the authors of the photos and thus increases the probability of someone starting to follow you.
  • Automatic Likes- Very similar to the previous technique, but in this case, obviously no need to enter any text.
  • Schedule tasks. Some of these bots allow you to program a specific date and time so that one of the 3 previous actions is executed or even combine them to execute several at the same time.

What are the consequences of using any of these bots?

The consequences are quite drastic since Instagram can delete your profile without warning at the moment you detect behaviors similar to those of a bot.

We are not going to deny that the offer to get followers in Instagram quickly and with the push of a button can attract a lot, but you should know that these  bots  are not free, you will spend your bucks and still nothing assures you that tomorrow Instagram delete your account and lose everything; photos, followers, comments, absolutely everything.

In short, if something is clear is that the use of these bots is totally prohibited on Instagram since it distorts the essence of any social network. It’s called Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other, what really matters is the interaction between real people and of course the use of bots or the creation of false accounts do not help at all.

Structure of the experiment

As must happen with any experiment, the first thing was to clearly establish a series of parameters that will structure the investigation. And logically, the hypothesis could not be missing; although for this case, two were formulated:

The automated account will have more followers. The ability of a bot to reach a greater number of people would be more perfect than that of a human being.

Currently, automation is not sophisticated enough to be as effective when connecting with the public as an equal.

Then, to corroborate or contradict the assumption in both points, two identical profiles were created on Instagram. The first had only interactions from one person, and the second was completely controlled by automation software. Further:

  • Each account contained the same profile description.
  • The same content was published at the same time, in both profiles, for a month.
  • The same hashtags were incorporated in each publication, to boost the incoming commitment.

What do the data say?       

After thirty days of social experiment, it was time to collect data and expose the results. A company calculated the average rate of subsequent engagement, which was almost three times higher in the organic engagement profile that is, in the Instagram account managed by humans. For this he applied the formula:

[(Like + Comments) ÷ Number of Posts in a profile] ÷ Followers

This resulted in 44.05% engagement versus 124.51%, in favor of the organic account. In addition, this profile of organic participation achieved over 2,000 “likes” more than the automated account. Meanwhile, it also won in the number of comments, reaching a 41% higher. But that’s not all, there are other variables that were also considered in the analysis. Let’s review some:

Gender of the followers: The female audience that followed the automated account was only 35.8%, compared to 47.8% that was recorded when analyzing the profile of organic participation.

The number of influencers: For the case of the profile of organic participation, the popular and influence accounts comprised 30.95% of the followers; On the other hand, the automated profile only reached 15.41%.

The days with the highest commitment: For the account managed by humans, the days of publication that generated the most engagement were Monday and Tuesday, both at night. However, in the automated profile, the best time was recorded on Saturday afternoon.

What is the lesson?

Automation software is a very useful element for marketing strategies in social networks but should be used in a balanced way. They can generate more followers in less time, which is considered by several as an advantage. However, this feature does not ensure that the published content has any relevant impact. In fact, as we saw earlier, the experiment showed that, although the final number of followers of the automated profile was greater than that of the human-driven profile, the average engagement rate was almost three times lower than that corresponding to the profile of organic participation.

So, how to achieve the commitment of the followers? The experts suggest having a human doing daily tasks like answering comments, reacting with a “like” in publications of other profiles, asking questions to the followers to connect with them, research content trends and reach influential people.

In addition, he emphasizes that automation can complement the growth speed of your profile, specifically in regards to the count of followers, but it should not be considered as the only strategy for Instagram. After all, people want to interact with humans, to understand their tastes and needs, to deliver coherent messages, and to allow a more fluid interaction. For something, these networks are called social.

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