Can We Please Just Stop Trying to Automate Engagement on Social Media?

Picture this: You’re new in town and someone from your office has invited you to a party. You’ve spent hours getting all gussied up to go out. On this particular day, you’ve done your hair and makeup, picked out an amazing outfit and the perfect accessories. You did a little research on the hostess and you found the perfect hostess gift. You roll up to the party, kiss the hostess on both cheeks and she introduces you around the room. The guy in the corner is telling this awesome story about the time he single-handed rescued a three year old from a shark and when he’s done, you give him a two thumbs up sign and move on. In the next group, you listen to the story and flash a peace sign before moving on. You move from conversation to conversation adding random hand signals, perhaps handing out your business card, and telling everyone how awesome their stories are…except some of them aren’t. You leave the party sad you just didn’t seem to click with anyone and didn’t make any new friends.

I’m sure YOU would NEVER act that way, it’s just not something we see in real life, but it’s something I see all too often at the big party over at Instagram’s house.

What is Instagram Automation?

There are several things you can automate on Instagram, but we all know, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should! Using apps and programs not sanctioned by Instagram you can automate

  • following and unfollowing accounts
  • liking pictures based on keywords and hashtags
  • posting
  • and yes, you can even automate your engagement (comments).

How to Spot Instagram Automation

Some types of Instagram automation are less obvious. For example, if someone likes your picture and has no previous relationship with your account, it could be automated, or maybe they’ve just discovered you for the first time. Someone who follows you and unfollows a couple days later, may have decided they didn’t appreciate your content.

Instagram comments that are automated, however, are reliably easy to spot.

  • No relationship with your account previously.
  • Comment consists of emoji only, or one to two words and emoji.
  • Comment is very generic, i.e. “Great post”, “Awesome pic”
  • If you reply to the comment, chances are the writer will not respond.

I get a fair number of “Great pic” type comments on my Instagram posts, but here’s the thing… they’re not pictures! That’s a dead giveaway you’ve used automation if your comment refers to a picture when I’ve posted a graphic. There are also the comments inviting me to check out their profile, their website or their product…none of which have anything to do with my post.

Instagram Automation is Bad for Your Brand

There are a lot of reasons automating your Instagram engagement or comments is bad for your brand.

  1. Following and unfollowing too quickly can get your account flagged by Instagram.
  2. Following based on hashtags can clutter up your timeline with a lot of useless content.
  3. It simply looks lazy and unprofessional.
  4. Once your automated content is spotted, your reputation is ruined, any hope of trust you had, is gone.
  5. You run the risk of saying something highly inappropriate (imagine posting “nice pic” on a post about a tragedy).
  6. Using third party apps mostly contravene the Instagram terms of service, so you run the risk of getting your account shut down completely.

Don’t Automate Engagement

Look, don’t get me wrong. There is a place and a use for some types of automation in social media. By all means, automate posting your Instagram photos to Twitter. Please consider scheduling programs for your evergreen content.

Whatever type of automation you’re thinking of employing, please keep in mind the philosophy of ‘Responsible Scheduling‘ and don’t automate engagement! Authentically commenting and engaging with content you are truly interested in on Instagram will reap far greater rewards than the time you save by trying to take shortcuts.

Do you have a great example of terrible automated comments on Instagram? I’d love to see it. Pop me a message in the comments.



2 thoughts on “Can We Please Just Stop Trying to Automate Engagement on Social Media?”

  1. I totally agree with this post. Though being told it’s the way to go and conduct business. I have refrained from automating. I prefer to be in the moment. I constantly get automated responses to my Instagram posts which I have realized are not genuine from the commenters. It’s a great feeling when someone really like your content.


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