If you google 's more Instagram followers, you'll come across a lot of articles and blog posts. provides you with an all you need to know guide for the clash. And most likely you'll also find plenty of deals to buy yourself extra Instagram followers. For many, this would also describe the only two possible paths to Instagram success: to be able to or to buy. The former is done by 's good guys, the latter by 's bad spammers. In fact, there is a third possibility: Instagram bots.

Meanwhile, more and more people are relying on automation tools, also called bots, to expand their Instagram community. These bots work in very different ways: they distribute likes on your behalf, follow other users or even leave comments. The bot activities can be targeted via a hashtag or even targeted to specific users.

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Unlike the purchased followers, which are mostly spam accounts, the bots' engagement is intended to turn real users into followers. Save time and still avoid the spammers - that sounds almost too good to be true. And if that sounds like it, it's usually because there's almost always a catch with such offers. So I just tested two of these bots for three days each. With my private Instagram account I didn't leave out any grease that you can tap into when using the bots, so you don't have to try it yourself. Because although these eager vending machines do more or less what they promise, I would advise anyone, particularly brands, not to use them.

A Story of Strange Comments

The starting point of my experiment was 338 followers of my account and about the same number of users I followed. I didn't want to set myself a target because I didn't have the basic data. I wasn't even sure it would work.

One of my colleagues drew my attention to Instagress, one of the most popular Instagram automation services, for the first time. On Instagress, you set the hashtags that are of interest to you. The tool then uses the hashtags Like 'for photos or follows other users. In addition, ready-made comments can be entered, which the bot then posts under appropriate photos. Three days of Instagress costs $2, ten days is $5 and 30 days is $10, so it's a really cheap tool. There is also a free trial for three days, perfect for my little experiment.

Bonus : Learn more in our Step-by-step guide how to create a social media strategy and optimize your social media presence with Instamer.

Assuming that the Like feature would be a fairly straightforward process with no impact on my community, I decided against it from the start. Like all other users of such automated services, I wanted to achieve visible success quickly. That's why I focused on the comment function. Step one was to set the hashtags for the bot search. Here I chose a mix of places, my interests and common hashtags (# Canada, # Montreal, # Vancouver, # PNW (Pacific Northwest USA), # Fishing, # Water, # Wonderful). Step two were the comments the bot was supposed to post. Here I wanted to formulate as general answers as possible, which should almost always fit:

  • (Fits 90 per cent of all photos)
  • (Same purpose, but the cooler version?)
  • was there for all the pictures of sunsets by the sea or other holiday snaps.
  • And: Your pictures & gt; My pictures (Supplement and to get people to look at my pictures as evidence)

After entering these targets, it could start. After 12 hours, I only had six new followers, about 40 new likes on my photos and about 25 new comments. Not a bad result for doing nothing, but not really stunning either.

The problem turned out to be something else entirely: the automatic comments had put me in quite strange situations with a number of people I did not know. And they were right to wonder what exactly was wrong with me.

There was, for example, the wedding photo of a bride that I had commented on with (she kindly replied with thanks instead of insulting me). Or a picture of a man apparently making fun of the decidedly ugly painting next to him (did I get jealous because I wanted that ugly picture, or because he was supposed to make fun of me?). Worst of all, though, was a picture & gt; my pictures comment under a selfie of a boy who was clearly still at school. His entire account consisted of four pictures, including three selfies. The teenager told me I was humble. I felt quite uncomfortable.

Those experiences were one thing. Then there were the questions from people who wondered about the comments of an unknown person under their photos. And then there were comments under pictures that I would normally make a big deal about (religious statements or Chris Brown songs). I quickly got to know the negative side of automatic comments. Just as quickly, I realised that these dubious situations would be all the more intolerable for a company.

Nevertheless, I really wanted to continue with my experiment. So I changed a few of my comments: has been replaced by Wow! , the picture comparison by and 's JAMES FORSYTH has been deleted. Just small talk.

And then I activated the automatic following. Six new followers in twelve hours might not have been all.

So you'd like more followers?

Automatic follow-up clearly worked better. More than 70 new followers were added in the next 24 hours, and another 170 in the last day and a half of the Instagress experiment. By the end I had amassed 584 followers.

I was seriously impressed, to be honest. Within three days, almost 250 more followers, from 338 to 584, almost as if by itself. After the trial period was over, I waited a few days to continue my experiment. I wanted to know if the new ones wouldn't disappear as quickly as they came. They didn't. One of my recently posted photos received around 70 likes in 12 hours, largely thanks to my 250 new friends.

A # latergram from yesterdays hike in Lighthouse Park?

A photo posted by Evan LePage (@ evlp) on

The drawbacks, however, were alarming. As if the weird, embarrassing comments weren't enough, I had also completely destroyed my Instagram feed.

In order to gain 250 new followers, the bot (and thus me) followed more than 1,400 users in the same time. If you follow 1,740 people on Instagram, your own feed is just useless. In my case, that meant I got to see horrible photos of some accounts. And my friends and other people of interest to me were completely lost in this flood of images. Unfortunately, many of the automatically tracked accounts were pure spammers who wanted to spread their spam among the people with generic hashtags.

Of course, now you can join 's feed I don't care, I want to promote my own photos. Good argument if you want a big community with little commitment. But now engagement plays a big role in creating an Instagram community that is truly conducive to your content. And the feed contributes significantly to this commitment. For example, I wouldn't have been able to find a really interested follower in my feed even if I had wanted to. But how can I show my appreciation to my followers when I can't even find them? Scrolling through the follower list and liking photos is extremely time-consuming and therefore not an option.

Verdict: Yes, I gained a lot of followers. But in return, what is best for me about Instagram has been lost. And thus also one of the most important tools for interaction between brands and followers.

It gets better (or worse?)

For comparison, I also wanted to try another of the automatic Instagram services. I opted for Instamacro, a little more expensive at around $10 for three days.

This bot has no comment function, but that didn't really bother me after 's amazing results from the first try. Instead, I focused on 's automatic follow-up feature. Again, I used the same hashtags as the first time. And this time I wanted to go one step further. With Instamacro you can choose how many users you want to follow per minute. You can choose between slow (1-2 users per minute), normal (2-3 users per minute) or fast (3-5 users per minute). If you can do some calculations, even with only three users per minute, you will have over 4,300 new users per day. A mind-boggling number and that's why I chose the option.

Because the hashtags I chose limited the choice, the bot was not able to follow as many users (only 2,600 new accounts were created in the first 48 hours). On the plus side, Instagram limits the number of users it can follow to a maximum of 7,500 (Instamacro also offers automatic follow-up of users when they reach that limit, further fueling the pointless endless loop of follow / follow).

Previously, I thought my feed was rubbish, but now I've been proved wrong. Due to the enormous number of profiles I now followed, the density of spam took on absurd forms. Five, ten or even 15 of the same spam posts appeared in succession, always nice in a row. Amid all the spam, there were, of course, tons of lewd pictures and ads for clothing (shapewear is in vogue right now!).

Instagram Bots in Self-Experimentation (Leave That). Instamer

In the middle of the second day I just counted the photos that appeared in my feed within 10 minutes. Score: 78th How can you still have fun on Instagram with so much traffic? I thought it was terrible.

And carried on anyway. After three days of Instamacro, I had 1,050 followers and followed around 5,300 users. Oh, and my five Instagram visits a day had turned into one. And that only served to control the current numbers. Fun, of course.

What I learned from my experiment with Instagram bots

My small series of experiments yielded some important insights:

  • Number one: if you use Instagram bots, you must be willing to forgo a personal feed . For me, it's nothing. But if you don't use your feed to learn more about your community, that's no problem.
  • Automatic comments cannot possibly work. The risk is simply too great. In the best case the result is only strange, in the worst case even damage occurs . You just don't want to comment on teenage selfies, believe me.
  • Since the use of bots for comments or automatic follow violates Instagram's terms of use , a constantly sluggish feeling in the stomach is inevitable. I, for one, was constantly worried that my Instagram account would be blocked, along with my photo memories of the past four years. For a brand, blocking an account can be an even bigger problem. And it's just not worth it.
  • Yes, you gain followers. But More followers does not automatically mean more engagement . You won't be spared the work of creating engagement with your photos anyway. The human factor in the interaction that users expect from a brand cannot be automated.

And now, excuse me, I have to apologise.

If you want to integrate Instagram efficiently into your social media strategy, we've put together tips and tricks for you in our Tactics for Instagram professionals guide.