HootSuite’s recent article on Instagram Automation tools and bots is a great exposé on the perils of bots and ‘bad’ automation in the pursuit of greater engagement in social media. We’re big believers in automation in many forms; at work, in your home, and personal (what you take with you). But true automation tools should be seen as that; things that can help you be more efficient and effective in your daily lives, not completely take the life out of it. This is all too important when trying to be grow your audience or just engage better within social media.

The HootSuite blog post is a great a deep-dive into some of the current Instagram automation tools (more specifically bots) which tout the ability to “like posts, follow accounts, and comment on your behalf.” The author does a stellar job in taking us through what she went through in getting the various tools up and running and detailing out what was the expected and actual return in engagement (in terms of likes, follows or comments). It’s a scary, heartbreaking, hilarious ride of when the promise of these tools collides with reality.

The article highlights the main difference between bots and true automation. Bots which impersonate human interaction such as automatically likes or comments on specific account posts come up as fake and could do you more harm than good for your own accounts and profile. Not only are the likes of Instagram and Twitter getting better at spotting these kind of bots they don’t take too kindly to the accounts utilising them so you always run the risk of getting blocked.

One of the positive that the article highlights is that some of these platforms are pretty good at helping users set up their target audience and recommend accounts and followers to engage with (Instarocket). Honestly if they invested more in advising customers rather than build doomed automation tools they might have a winning business.

For true automation tools that make you more effective in managing your social media accounts (so you can focus more on content creating and engaging with your audience) you can use platforms like Zapier and IFTTT. These platforms help to automate the most mundane and repeatable tasks when posting to your social media accounts. There’s literally hundreds of integrations within both automation platforms that help connect you’re content tools with your social media accounts. You can also use and connect Social Media management platforms like HootSuite (which was the whole point of the article) and Later (our preferred platform) to get more efficient and effective with your posts and engagement. Most of these platforms come with analytics tools to help refine your engagements (most charge for this, of course).

The author Paige Cooper, sums it perfectly, “There’s no such thing as a legitimate, risk-free Instagram automation service.”