Instagram automation is one of those topics that can divide friends, family, and coworkers. Should you do it? Should you not?
The most hotly debated form of Instagram automation involves shady tactics like bots auto-posting spammy comments. We’ll be upfront. That’s not the kind of Instagram automation we’re going to cover in this post.
Instead, we’re going to explore legitimate, ethical strategies for saving time on Instagram by automating many of your routine daily tasks, without resorting to fake engagement and bots.
No more debate—that’s an Instagram automation strategy everyone can agree on.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
What is Instagram automation?
Instagram automation is the practice of automating Instagram tasks to save you time.
Automation allows you to spend more time thinking about your Instagram strategy and creating great content, and less time on chores like opening the app to post multiple times per day or combing through Insights.
This kind of Instagram automation is a legitimate way of maximizing time and effort while using Instagram in an entirely authentic way.
Of course, like we said above, there’s also that other kind of Instagram automation: the kind that involves bots attempting to automate Instagram followers by liking posts, following accounts, and commenting on your behalf.
The idea is for the bot to do what you’d do yourself to earn Instagram engagement and grow your account if you only had the time.
As we’ll explain in more detail later in this post, this is not a strategy we recommend. Why? Because:
- People don’t like bots, and they can tell when a like, follow or comment is fake.
- Instagram actively works against practices that degrade the user experience.
- Such shady automation services must try to evade detection or else run the risk of getting shut down (and they do get shut down regularly, leaving you out of luck if you’ve purchased services)
- Using bots goes against Instagram’s terms and community guidelines, so you could be putting your account at risk.
Nobody absolutely nobody:
Instagram bots: DM me you won! pic.twitter.com/i12EKyCFaO
— Jay Pharoah (@JayPharoah) September 26, 2021
What can be automated on Instagram?
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at the tasks you can legitimately automate on Instagram. We’ll show you the automation tools to help with these tasks at the end of this post.
Scheduling and publishing posts and Stories
The biggest waste of time on any app is constantly opening and closing it throughout the day to create and post new content. Being able to create multiple posts and Stories in advance, then scheduling them to post automatically at the ideal times, is a major time saver.
Since 40% of people watch Instagram Stories with the sound off, it’s a good idea to include captions for any video Stories that include speech. This is also a great way of making your content more accessible.
Transcribing speech manually is slow going, but it can be done automatically in just a few taps with Instagram automation.
Data collection and reporting
Fortunately, you can automate the process of analytics and reporting, so you get customized reports with the precise data you need, ready to circulate to your team or other stakeholders.
If you have a large Instagram following and produce engaging content, odds are you’re going to get plenty of direct messages. It can be tricky to stay on top of them manually, but Instagram automation options can help you respond efficiently.
Responding to messages in the Instagram app in real time requires you to be on constant alert for push notifications, and to open the app over and over again throughout the day.
You can automate several elements of your Instagram ads campaigns, from performance measurement and reporting to budget optimization to creating multiple ad variations.
The DOs and DON’Ts of Instagram automation
Here are some basic rules of thumb when thinking about your best Instagram automation strategy.
DO: Automate repetitive tasks
Instagram automation is all about cutting down on tasks you do multiple times per day that eat up a few seconds to a few minutes each time. Think about this as reducing your total number of taps required to accomplish the same tasks.
DO: Reduce the need to switch between apps
Knowledge workers switch between apps on average 25 times per day. That’s a lot of time lost simply moving between tools.
Instagram automation lets you choose the information you want to come to you, rather than opening and closing multiple apps every day to seek it out.
DO: Consolidate time spent
Say you have an average of one hour per day to dedicate to Instagram content. Do you think you’ll accomplish more if you spend (a) one uninterrupted hour creating and scheduling content, or (b) 10 six-minute increments creating and posting content throughout the day?
For most people, the answer is (a), by a landslide, since you can focus on the task at hand, have all your tools ready to go, and just settle in to do the work.
DON’T: Use bots to buy Instagram followers
We’re going to lump all the various sins of Instagram automation into one big don’t here. It’s pretty simple: Stay away from bots, and you’ll avoid the worst kinds of Instagram automation.
In case we haven’t convinced you yet to give up on Instagram automation bots, here are a few insights from experiments we’ve conducted to see how they work.
Way back in 2017, when we ran a bot experiment for the first time, we saw an account go from 338 to 1050 followers using a tool that has since been shut down. While that may seem like impressive Instagram growth, we also had plenty of cringe-worthy moments. Here’s Hootsuite writer Evan LePage on the ickiest one:
“I [automatically] commented “your pics > my pics” on a selfie of a boy who was clearly in middle school. In fact, his Instagram account was composed of only four pictures, three of them selfies. I felt uncomfortable. The teenage boy told me I was being modest.”
In 2020, we tried experimenting with how to automate likes on Instagram again. Since Instagram has got better at detecting bots, this time, we saw only 8 new followers after trying several different tools over the course of a week. Here’s Hootsuite writer Paige Cooper summing up the experience:
“I got 8 new followers, many of whom seem fairly fake themselves, a handful of Story views, and about 30 likes total. Weeks later, I also have a creeping suspicion that my accounts are now permanent bot-magnets, even if my credit card isn’t getting charged.”
Paige also got an Instagram notification of a suspicious login attempt when linking one of the bot tools.
If you won’t listen to us, listen to Instagram:
“We want the content you see on Instagram to be authentic and to come from real people, not bots or others trying to mislead you. Starting today, we will begin asking people to confirm who’s behind an account when we see a pattern of potential inauthentic behavior.”
As mentioned, Instagram is getting progressively better at detecting bot activity. So are Instagram users. So we’ll say it one more time. Bots are not an effective or viable method of Instagram automation.
11 Instagram automation tools to do it right
You know what Instagram automation is, why you want to do it, and how to avoid getting into hot water. Now, let’s look at some Instagram automation tools to help you implement a white-hat Instagram automation strategy.
This is a built-in, free way to automate Instagram posts.
This is another free, native Facebook tool that allows you to schedule Instagram Stories from a business account. The editing options are pretty basic, but this can be a good way to start experimenting with automating your Stories.
Learn more about how to use both Creator Studio and Facebook Business Suite in this video:
Wondering how to automate Instagram posts from a personal account? Or how to access more features than the native platform tools provide?
We’ve got your back with the Instagram scheduling feature within Hootsuite. We’ve also got a whole blog post dedicated to helping you schedule Instagram posts.
For the quick version, check out this video:
You can also create multiple posts in advance and upload them in bulk using the Bulk Composer.
Using the Hootsuite Best Time To Publish view, you can see the recommended posting times for your specific account based on the results you’ve achieved over the past 30 days.
You can choose to see best time suggestions based on three different goals:
5. Stories Captions sticker
You can add automatic captions to your Instagram Stories with a couple of taps using the Captions sticker. Place the Captions sticker on any video Story for auto-generated captions.
Since speech to text is not always perfect, you can review the captions before posting, but the automated captions are usually quite good.
Sound off 🗣
…with sound off 🔇
Now you can add a captions sticker in Stories (coming soon to Reels) that automatically turns what you say into text.
We’re starting in a handful of countries and hope to expand soon. pic.twitter.com/OAJjmFcx4R
— Instagram (@instagram) May 4, 2021
You can also add automatic captions to your Instagram video posts and IGTV on the Accessibility Tab under Advanced Options.
Automatic captions, rolling out on IGTV today. 🙋♀️
Go to your settings and turn on video captions or find the option in the video drop-down menu.
Captions will be available in 16 languages to start. Stay tuned for updates as we expand to more surfaces and countries. pic.twitter.com/g3zBUBjCDr
— Instagram (@instagram) September 15, 2020
Hootsuite Analyze provides customized Instagram analytics reports delivered automatically with the data that matters to you. This is a great way of automating your Instagram data collection and reporting.
Rather than digging through Instagram Insights, you’ll get a ready-to-go report with your selected metrics that you can use for strategic planning and reporting to stakeholders.
Hootsuite Inbox allows you to view, track, and respond to all Instagram direct messages and Story mentions in one place. You can also assign them to other team members to respond directly from Inbox.
This app allows you to track and respond to comments, photo tags, and mentions for multiple accounts all in one place. It’s a great Instagram automation tool for simplifying engagement on Instagram without involving bots.
Heyday helps automate basic customer service on Instagram using artificial intelligence.
But wait — didn’t we tell you over and over again not to use bots?! Yes, in the case of interacting with content on the Instagram platform. However, to manage basic customer service requests, AI chatbots are very helpful for both the customer and the company.
When service requests require a personal response, Heyday passes the query to a customer support team agent. It also integrates social customer service with your CRM, so you automatically have all customer data and information about past interactions at your fingertips.
Hootsuite streams are an important social listening and hashtag monitoring tool that surface the conversations your brand wants to be a part of (or just keep on top of).
Rather than manually looking up hashtags within the Instagram app (and on other social media platforms), you can set up streams to automatically track all content posted to a relevant hashtag within your Hootsuite dashboard. You can then track and respond to posts on all hashtags from one screen.
11. Hootsuite Ads
If you’re using Instagram ads, Hootsuite Ads is the best Instagram automation tool to create and test multiple versions of your ads quickly. It also provides automatic budget reallocation based on your best-performing ads, so you don’t have to micromanage your campaigns.
Looking for more? We’ve got a whole post on Instagram automation tools with loads of details on how they can help make your Insta life easier.
Automate Instagram, the honest way, today. Try our Instagram automation and social media management software for free.
Automate Instagram, the honest way, today. Try our free Instagram automation software.
Easily create, analyze, and schedule Instagram posts with Hootsuite. Save time and get results.
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