Instagram automation: What is it and how can you use it?

  • Date: 6 May 2019
  • reading time: 5 Minutes
  • Blogger: Francisca Zimmermann


Are you running an Instagram account for your business? Instagram is a great way to grow a business, but it’s incredibly time-consuming too.

instagram

Without regular posts, the right hashtags and active engagement with Instagram's users, an account simply won’t grow. Doing it right, running a successful Instagram account can take at least an hour each day. And that’s a lot.

Luckily, more and more tools pop up that allow us to automate certain tasks. Knowing that work on your account is happening without you actually have to put in the time, is a great feeling.

In this blog, we will have a look at the different forms of automation we can find within the field of Instagram management. We will give a few pros and cons and will end with a conclusion on the types of automation we think are worth using, and which ones we would rather avoid.

Automated posting

What is it?

To really grow an Instagram account, regular posting is necessary. With Instagram’s current algorithm, each of your posts reaches only a small percentage of your followers and an even smaller percentage of the overall Instagram users. Therefore, to reach more people, you simply need to post a lot. One post per day would be a great number to aim for, but lower than 2 posts per week we wouldn't go.

Assuming you do some research and find a nice image for each post, this takes a lot of time. And on top of that, blocking a moment in your calendar to share the image on your profile can be a real hassle.

Luckily, there are several ways to schedule your posts in advance. This means that you can pick a moment each week (or each month) to plan all your posts at once, schedule them in a scheduling tool, and then your content creation work is done. The tool will post your content for you, at the days and times you told it to.

Some tools only offer a schedule and automated posting, some offer analytics too, and some calculate a posting time on which your followers are most active.

At Social Media Gids we use Hootsuite, but there are many more tools available with similar functions. Think of Buffer, Later, CoSchedule and HeyOrca.

Yes or no?

Absolutely yes. Being able to bundle your work and create a lot of content at once, makes us way more productive. Instead of having to interrupt our work each day to post on social media, tools like these allow us to do all the work at once.

Besides it being time efficient, the use of scheduling tools also gives us a nice overview of our content calendar. We can see a monthly summary of the types of posts we have planned, making it easier to share a nice variety of posts or work towards a campaign or event.

sales

Automated engagement

What is it?

Another major part of Instagram management is engagement. If you want people to engage with your content, you will have to engage with other people too. Like interesting posts, comment to images and videos, watch stories, follow relevant accounts and send a private message once in a while.

The more you engage, within logical boundaries of course, the more result you will see.

Because of the time-consuming nature of this task, a lot of so-called ‘bots’ have been developed over the past years. An Instagram bot lets you automate your engagement completely. By entering hashtags and accounts that you think your audience may be following, a bot targets the audience of these hashtags and accounts. It follows and unfollows accounts, it likes posts, watches stories and sends automated comments. It can even send standardized private messages to, for instance, your new followers.

How a bot does this and what exactly it does, is up to you. You can choose let it like, comment, follow or all of it. It’s all up to you.

A few examples of Instagram bots are InstaZood, Social Sensei and Instoo.

robot

Yes or no?

We would say no. Although the use of Instagram bots can help an account grow, it has a lot of downsides too.

To start with, automated comments will most likely cause awkward situations. It is simply not possible to write a comment that would go with every post. For instance, if you write a comment like ‘Beautiful photo, chances are that the comment will appear under an animation or a drawing. Is your comment ‘Awesome’ or ‘I like it’? Chances are that your comment shows up under a sad image, dealing with a serious topic. Seeing inappropriate comments like these will make people immediately notice that you use a bot. Or even worse, they think you are posting these strange comments yourself. This can be very harmful to the image of your business.

An other downside of using bots is the fact that you are missing out on real engagement. And that can be incredibly valuable. Remember, most Instagram users are people and potential customers. You can make genuine, long-lasting connections on the platform. You can get to know people, learn what your company can help them with and learn valuable lessons about your customers' needs. With a bot taking over, you are missing out on this opportunity. And even worse, you are likely to leave a bad impression instead of a good one.

Third, using a bot goes against the Instagram terms of use. Letting another party access Instagram’s API without permission of the platform and sending the same message to several Instagram users, are all forbidden according to the terms of use. Also, providing the bot with your login details is not allowed.

Conclusion

Automation is great, but limit this to posting automation. Automating your posts saves you a lot of time and allows you to create a nicely planned out content calendar. Engagement automation, however, makes you break Instagram’s terms of use and can harm your company’s credibility.

Need help?

Are you interested in learning more about social media management? Check out our Hootsuite Dashboard SMG Masterclass to learn all about posting automation. If you want more and decide to join our SMG community , you will get the master class for free.

Want to post a comment? Join the conversation in our community

  • Blogger: Francisca Zimmermann
  • E-mail: mf.zimmerm[email protected]
  • Social media manager & content creator at Francisca Zimmermann
  • Francisca Zimmermann is a social media expert with a background in research and a love for learning new things. She travels the world looking for beautiful places and interesting cultures, while she dives into the world of her clients to be able to write about them and their interests as a real 'insider'.
  • Other blog articles of Francisca Zimmermann