Written by: Whitney Urmann, Lindsay Ashcraft and Killian Abuan
You know when your Instagram photo gets a random, generic comment like “Nice!” or “Such great content” or a series of emojis that just seem out of place? You might have thought that was just a socially awkward person commenting on your photo, but more likely than not, it’s probably an Instagram bot.
So what exactly is an Instagram bot and how does it work?
Well, you sign up with a site that will automatically like, comment and/or follow on behalf of an Instagram account. Once a person hands over their Instagram credentials, these bots generate a storm of activity at an inhuman speed. It can be tempting to use, because who has time to interact with photos every hour on the hour?
Two of our brave Social Media Interns decided to try out two different instabot sites themselves and here are their stories:
I was very skeptical about relinquishing control over my Instagram to a website. After all, weren’t the annoying CAPTCHA letters created to stop robots from being on the internet? What offered me a bit of comfort was knowing that Instagress allows users to choose the locations and hashtags they want to interact with. So, that’s something right?
Instagress is an instabot that actually comments instead of just “liking” photos. To be perfectly honest, it was nerve-wracking not knowing exactly what was going to be commented on (or liked). I don’t exactly consider myself an Instagram connoisseur though, so I was willing to give it a shot to learn more about the more networking aspects of the app. The three day trial felt like it dragged on forever. I ended up commenting on over 1,000 posts and liking over 3,000. Yikes!
Each time I opened the app I would have 20-30 notifications — most of which were users responding to my automated comments on their posts. This quickly got awkward because I had only inputted a handful of possible responses to Instagress. As a result, my comments were not always relevant to the photo the program randomly chose. This is an inevitable factor in allowing instabots to comment on photos; since the bot isn’t human, it can’t possibly have a filter for embarrassing comments.
However superficial, it was still nice to see my photos get double the engagement I was used to and to have my follower account increase by nearly 22 users without doing anything.
On the flip side, it definitely wasn’t worth the uncomfortable responses I received as a result to my comments. I had confused people asking if we knew each other and replying to my comments with question marks. Sadly, I felt just as confused as they did.
Overall, I would describe using the bot to run my Instagram as very anxiety-inducing. I was constantly uncomfortable with the thought that I would comment something cutesie or funny on a post that was personal or upsetting. With a public profile, I really don’t want to subject myself to the possibility of an inappropriate interaction. That’s why instabots mean handing over a lot of trust and inevitably a lot more time spent cleaning up their messes. The verdict? I’d rather connect with people the old-fashioned way on social media.
Unlike Instagress, Archie.co has restrictions on their service for a three day trial. The site only allows users to input a maximum of 10 hashtags, 10 locations and 10 accounts for the instabot to use for finding content to engage with. The bot will not comment on these photos and will instead “like” them in hopes of increasing the user’s personal profile engagements with followers and likes back to their profile. This was appealing because I was able to save myself the embarrassment of commenting generic and inapplicable comments on strangers’ photos.
Throughout the trial, I had to constantly check back to Archie to see exactly who I was interacting with which was a huge hassle. Although it used hashtags I picked out to find photos, it still interacted with posts that were completely irrelevant to the specific hashtag used and had my account engaging with photos I wouldn’t normally engage with.
Overall, I would describe my experience with Archie as average. While the site itself is easy to use, the idea of a third party having access and control of my interactions with other Instagram accounts is too impersonal and quite frankly, a little unsettling.
Instagram is one of the most widely used and dynamic apps out there, and it’s much more beneficial for people to be actively looking for posts to respond to and follow profiles that really could result in an eventual connection. While using instabots raises overall engagements, they lack authenticity and are riskier than they are helpful.
The point of social media is to leave a positive impression and make connections that build relationships. If a user has no idea what they are saying or doing on their site, that connection is cheapened and people are much more likely to see right through their fake replies. Why risk putting your reputation on the line for just a few more random followers and likes?
Have you ever considered using an Instagram bot? What was your experience?