Chatbot News, Emerging Technology
Instagram Bots: The Why and the How
Instagram bots are trained to increase followers, likes, and comments on specific profiles. Find out the why and the how of this bot software.
By Adam Westin
September 25, 2020
You’ve probably seen it before—an Instagram account with an unusually high follower count or someone who gets thousands of likes on every picture but only has a few hundred followers. Such high digital praise isn’t always attributed to a photo. Instead, accounts are often employing the use of an Instagram bot—a tool to boost followers and engagement rates on the platform. However, be aware that using these bots for followers could have unintentional effects on your account.
What is an Instagram bot?
This software can serve a variety of purposes, but it mainly works to increase followers on an account by trawling through other accounts with similar content and audience interests. How does it work? You start by setting a target audience and then let the bot do the work. The bot sifts through sometimes thousands of hashtags and accounts that might be within your set target audience, all while liking and commenting on other posts and following accounts that might match up with your audience.
Each time your bot comments or likes a post from another account, the account owner is likely to look up the profile associated with the bot. From there, it’s probable that they give the bot a follow or like some of the recently posted photos—all without any effort on the part of the account owner.
For those who aren’t capable of coding the backend information required to create an artificial intelligence (AI) tool like this, several services exist that advertise increased followers and engagement in exchange for a monthly subscription, for example:
This service uses Instagram bots for followers and can target specific accounts, interact with hashtags, and target locations—all to promote higher engagement with the attached account.
This includes all the previously mentioned services, plus including a feature it calls HyperVote, which finds accounts you’re interested in. HyperVote votes on any polls or questions posted by accounts within the established metrics.
Of course, neither of these services offer their bots for free—both charge a hefty monthly subscription.
Effects of Instagram bots
With multiple paid services available for follower growth, it may seem as though everyone is using bot software. However, it’s important to remember that using a bot can lead to an account being suspended or even banned for violating the Instagram Platform Policy. Most bots that can be purchased online work by accessing Instagram’s API, which is expressly banned in the Instagram terms of service agreement.
The effects of these bots can be seen all over the platform. If you scroll through the comments on any influencer’s or celebrity’s post, you’ll find many with seemingly random emojis or simple captions, such as “very nice!” or “cool!” Although some of these are genuine, many are the product of bots trawling for popular posts, seeking to increase engagement for the commenter’s account. Some users have complained about these bots disrupting their feeds, making it impossible to tell who’s commenting for real and who’s fake. Others have even compared using such a bot to steroids professional athletes take, artificially inflating their results.
Even though Instagram frequently tries to shut down users who leverage these bots to gain followers, it looks as though the services providing them are here to stay, leaving users to decide for themselves whether they think the risks are worth the advantages.