We all know you can give their API the middle finger, but should you?
Ah Instagram! The breeding ground for emoji bot replies, scantily-clad women with terrible writing skills that can’t wait to hook up, and yoga.
Five years ago, the biggest issue facing Instagram users was a swath of Android dorks who now had access to the app. Coming in with their subpar instamatic photo editing skills a blazin’ and no idea how to use the original 8 filters.
“What a cesspool! There will NEVER be a time five years from now when people take crappy pictures and just throw them around willy nilly on every social platform like some sort of story or chats with snaps!” — May or may not have been a quote from 2012 but probably.
We’ve come a long way from just sharing images that we created to look like shitty polaroids or B&W artsy masterpieces showing off that we had in fact been in art class and not out smoking near the football field with that metal kid that had every Metallica shirt.
Instagram as a platform evolved into one of the top social selling devices of the past three years with the addition of brand/business profiles and the ability to tag products and lead your audience to checkouts. Recently they've added carousel posts on top of their already popular ad sets that allow users to insert up to 10 photos or videos in a single post.
My personal opinion is this move was just another way to squeeze more ad space in between user content since they’ve run out of it across their other platforms. But don’t worry, it will be sandwiched in between all your Facebook Stories and Messenger Days soon enough.
Gotta make that skrillaaaaaa!!!
With the popularity of Instagram at an all time high and Facebook stepping on necks then carbon copying anything in it’s path, content creators had to streamline their strategies and production of images and video. Scheduling and automated posting had been in use by 3rd party dashboards for the other major platforms for some time so it only made sense to include Instagram in the mix.
But here lies the issue. Instagram haven't, and won’t open their API for 3rd party dashboards to automate posts and replies. It’s against the rules and it can get your accounts banned.
You shall not: Use the Instagram APIs to post automated content to Instagram, including likes and comments that were not initiated and entered by an Instagram user.
If you think that no one gives two shits about a stern warning in black & white, you would be absolutely correct because people are narcissistic assholes that believe everything is owed or should just be given to them!
I’m part of a Facebook group dedicated to Social Media platforms, tools, and helping each other when there might be a slight strategy flaw or an issue someone else in the group may have dealt with before. It’s a phenomenal group of people with great insight and I’ve personally seen many situations overcome from the help of others.
For the past year though, there has been a debate going on between the members that believe using an automated 3rd party tool for Instagram is fine and the other members that stick by working with the TOS of the platforms. At times the conversation can get heated which is generally in part from lack of knowledge or not having the ban hammer hit you square in the face yet.
There are highly reputable social media management platforms such as Sprout, Curalate, Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tailwind that can semi-automate the posting process for you and aggregate all your comments in a central area to be responded to but all have to follow the same guidelines.
You can schedule your images, hashtags, and post copy BUT when it’s time to post you’ll receive a notification on your mobile device at which point it’s pretty much a copy and paste maneuver to finish the process. This is the most automation allowed by the Instagram API that will not violate their TOS so it’s adhered to across the board.
Your other options are the reason Instagram has turned into Hill Valley from Back to the Future part 2 and jumping into your settings to routinely block certain terms has become the norm. It’s the reason comments like “Great content” and “👆🔥💣💯” are flooding the area below posts on everyone’s accounts.
I’m sure these platforms had good intentions at the beginning but what happens with automation is never really the software’s fault.
It’s the user.
A billion times over you can watch automation set up incorrectly and the ensuing chaos it ends up causing your audience, other users, and more importantly your future customers. The problem is these automation dashboards aren't just set up wrong, their main purpose is to squeeze as much potential likes, follows, and comments out of actual users as it can.
It’s at a point where automated posts are going out with certain hashtags in the copy or a specific location which are detected by another automated account that likes it, comments on it, and then follows and unfollows.
When the automation starts eating itself, you know you’ve passed the line of being productive and pretty much entering Blade Runner territory.
Should you use Instagram automation?
That’s a personal business decision but five years from now, we’ll probably all be talking about you.