Anyone starting out on social media will likely have had some dealings with Instagram. By the same token you will likely be wondering how people generate those huge accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers that seem to be liking and commenting on everything, almost as though they do nothing other than sit on Instagram.
Some of those people may well be sat in their joggers doing nothing else, but likely as not they’re taking advantage of something known as ‘botting’. In the primary sense botting is where someone will have given their account over, in part, to a service such as Instagress.
What bots such as Instagress do is essentially create copy of your account and take information you provide, mostly hashtags, to act on your behalf, even when you’re away from your account. This sends the bot on a liking and commenting rampage in your name.
This replicates the same sort of quid-pro-quo relationship that exists between users in normal circumstances, just on a ridiculous level. They also exercise that annoying practice that you may have come across where they will follow your account in the hope that you’ll return the favour, then unfollow again within a few days.
Services such as Instagress claim to be almost like ethical botting, in the sense that they work on the basis of connecting you with real human accounts. For the most part this appears to be true, however it’s easy to see the number of fake accounts that this kind of intense activity attracts, making it difficult to separate botting and fake accounts.
In the interests of keeping yourself clear of accounts using botting there are fairly easy ways to spot botted accounts. For example, when you first make a post on Instagram the people who it will reach first will be your immediate followers and those who engage most with your account. Therefore, any immediate likes and comments from accounts outside of this circle are likely bots.
As well as this new, comments and likes on really old posts are likely bots, drawn there by a match in hashtags. The comments themselves can be a giveaway as bots will usually be behind those accounts who write really weird, out of context stuff in the comments.
In relation to the practice of following and unfollowing mentioned earlier, this is prime bot territory and happily makes them easier to spot. An account with a huge imbalance in followers and following, i.e. if they’re followed by a colossal number of people and only follow maybe 200 chances are a bot is acting on their behalf.
Botting in all its forms, from this kind of automation through to the straight forward likes for cash, has been prevalent on Instagram for a while. It’s only recently though that the issue has been brought to a head.
Technically botting has always been against Instagram’s guidelines, the renewed vigour for the rules however has come amidst the spotlight being cast on the use of social media in election rigging in the last few years.
If the phrase ‘election rigging’ wasn’t enough to turn you away from botting on Instagram and those who use it there are plenty of other reasons why it’s not the best idea in the world. First off, in order to have a bot act on your behalf you must turn over your login information to third party.
Immediately that should strike you as a bad plan. As well as this Instagram’s crack down recently resulted in accounts that have been botted experiencing mass-unfollowing as the bots and fake accounts were culled. In addition to this, Instagress as one example was shut down entirely at the behest of Instagram.
This did have the advantage of course of showing up once and for all those accounts who had been botting as they went from hundreds of thousands of followers to a few hundred overnight.
While you can probably bet that the bots will rise again, it’s just smart practice to avoid them and there are alternatives for those determined to grow their presence. The first of which is simply to put the time in and interact with the accounts in your circles of interest. This is the most genuine and human tactic but is also time consuming.
For those with the budget but not the time it is possible to pay an actual human being as a Virtual Assistant to grow your account for you. This avoids the mass-scale and inhuman growth tactics of bots and is more likely, given proper direction, to yield better results.
Of course, the next step up from this on a business scale is to engage the services of a digital marketing agency to manage your online presence in a business-orientated fashion – why not have a browse of creative digital retainer service?