As many of you know, I recently took a full-time job and turned my online business back into a side hustle. (You can read more about it here.)
As a result, I’m searching for all the time-saving tools I can get my hands on.
One of the things I’ve been experimenting with is Instagram automation (or Instagram ‘bots).
All About Instagram Bots
Using automated tools to follow, like, scrape info (like user names and followers) is against Instagram’s terms of service. I’ve had an Instagram account for more than a year now, but I’ve never used these tools because I’m a rule follower and don’t want to break the terms of service.
I also had plenty of time to follow new accounts, like posts for dozens of hashtags and leave thoughtful comments on the posts in my feed.
Now that I’m working full-time, I just can’t keep up.
Enter the Instagram bot.
I discovered that several Instagram bots offer a free trial, so I signed up for all of them to test them out.
How Instagram Bots Work
The Instagram bots I used allow you to select hashtags or Instagram handles you want to target. Then the bot will automatically “like” posts that use the hashtag(s) you selected. The bot will also find people who follow a specific handle and either follow those people or like several of their posts. This follow feature is great for targeting your competition’s followers. Those people are likely to be your ideal client.
The idea is that by following new accounts and liking posts, a wider audience starts to see your name out there, and ideally some of them will follow you.
How I Tested the Bots
To make the test as fair as possible, I only tested one bot at a time. I posted on my usual schedule and did not like or follow any additional posts/accounts during each trial. I also targeted the same hashtags and Instagram users for each bot I tried.
I did NOT let the bots leave comments. Those comments are always SO obvious and spammy, and I don’t want to do that.
These numbers are not 100% accurate. I can’t know for sure if my Social Drift bot liked someone’s post, but the user only signed on 3 days later and followed me then, when I was using Popamatic. I also don’t know how many new followers I was getting each day BEFORE I tried these bots, but I know it wasn’t many (less than 3 a day). I also have no idea how many of these new followers have stuck around or engaged.
Basically: it’s an imperfect science, so take it with a grain of salt.
My Instagram Bot Results
Here’s the results I got with each Instagram bot.
- Free Trial: 3 days
- # of new followers during trial: 15
- Average # new followers per day: 5
- Price after free trial: $39/month
- At current rate, price per new follower: .26/ follower
Social Drift had the best analytics of any of the tools I tried. But after I used the same hashtags and follow accounts in another trial and got 2x better results, I didn’t really care about analytics any more. :p
- Free Trial: 7 days
- # of new followers during trial: 78
- Average # of new followers per day: 11
- Price after free trial: $39/month
- At current rate, price per new follower: .12/follower
Popamatic says that they are NOT against Instagram’s TOS because they have actual people doing the following and liking for you. So if you want to stay compliant with Instagram, this is obviously your best option.
They had very little in terms of analytics, but they offered a much more generous trial and I had way better results. In terms of “buying” followers, it would cost half as much to use Popamatic to attract new followers than to use Social Drift.
- Free Trial: 3 days
- # of new followers during trial: 9
- Average # of new followers per day: 3
- Price after free trial: $7.77/month
- At current rate, price per new follower: .09/follower
Robolike only likes posts based on hashtags, so you can’t automatically follow people or like the posts of accounts that follow your competitors. But the price is lower overall and for me, the price was also lower per follower. If you’re on a tight budget, but want to invest a little bit to grow your Instagram, this would be a good option.
Note: There are plenty of other bot options out there, there’s were just the ones I found that offered a free trial.
- Yes, bots are against Instagram’s terms of service. That being said, I don’t know anyone who has been banned from Instagram for using them. I had no issues, probably because my account is so small and Instagram doesn’t give a poop about me.
- I strongly suspect that many of the big names on Instagram have been using these automated bots/tools for ages. It really does save time and grow your account. Obviously, no one talks about it because it’s against IG’s terms of service, but this is my suspicion.
- Don’t use bots to automatically leave comments. It always makes you look spammy.
- Consider using bots to automate following and liking posts. It will save you a ton of time.
- If you decide to use a bot, start on the lowest, slowest setting. If you go from liking 5 posts a day to liking 500 posts an hour, it’s going to raise a red flag. Most bots will have pre-set your account to the lowest/slowest setting, so please listen to them and keep it there!
Will I Keep Using a Bot?
I haven’t decided if I’m going to pay for a bot. I’m still not convinced the service is worth it, especially since most of my website traffic comes from Pinterest or search. If I do decide to keep automating likes and follows, I’ll definitely be using Popamatic.
Robolike had a lower cost per follower, but at only 3 followers a day during the trial, it’s impossible for me to know if Robolike got me those followers of if I would have gotten them anyway without the tool.
Popamatic also says they are compliant with Instagram’s TOS, so technically this is a tool that you won’t get in trouble for using! Plus, it made a dramatic difference to my follower count, and that would be worth paying for.
I’d love to hear what you think. And I’d like to do more experiments like this, so if you want me to test something or you’ve been curious about something, let me know!
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