Instagram is probably my favorite social media platform. I love sharing photos, engaging with influencers, and discovering new trends and viral sensations. I think a lot of people can agree with me when I say that the bots on Instagram are annoying. It’s not Instagram’s fault, but you have to admit, it makes the platform less engaging and less authentic. Recently, I noticed that the bots have been more engaging; with comments, spamming with likes, and sometimes even watch Instagram stories. Honestly, what are the chances that an influencer with 200k followers and only follows 500 people actually watched my story?
During our social media innovation meetup, one of my classmates mentioned that he noticed influencers with 40k-100k followers have started to watch his Instagram stories. I noticed this too. I wanted to look further into this since the bots are getting smarter and are actually “engaging” with different accounts. While I did not find anything about Instagram stories, I did find that bots are now generating fake engagement by commenting and liking the “influencers” posts.
“They aren’t fake accounts mind you. They just automatically like and comment on posts made by other people to artificially drive up engagement for those accounts.” (Sharma)
There are agencies that specialize in selling bots to influencers. The influencer has the ability to customize what type of comment the bot should leave under their post. On the contrary, micro-influencers (accounts with less than 100k followers) need to essentially ‘pay to play’ in order to have any type of engagement against the influencers with 500k-1 million followers (Chen). Since the bots use hashtags to engage, Instagram has also had to cut down on the number of hashtags and cracking down on posts with #Follow4Follow and other spammy like hashtags.
With the rise of bots, does this decrease the overall engagement of Instagram? If Instagram is anything like most social platforms, there will be an overall decline in organic engagement. Agencies that work with social media influencers will have to seriously consider implementing both a paid and organic social media strategy in order to stay relevant with the everchanging algorithm.
Chen, Yuyu, et al. “How Wannabe Instagram Influencers Use Bots to Appear Popular.” Digiday, 1 Aug. 2017, digiday.com/marketing/wannabe-instagram-influencers-use-bots-appear-popular/.
Chen, Yuyu, et al. “The Rise of ‘Micro-Influencers’ on Instagram.” Digiday, 22 Dec. 2016, digiday.com/marketing/micro-influencers/.
Sharma, Gaurav SharmaGaurav, et al. “Is Your Instagram Engagement Going Down? Here’s How to Fix It.” Business 2 Community, www.business2community.com/instagram/is-your-instagram-engagement-going-down-heres-how-to-fix-it-02064606.