Popular Instagram automation services Instagress and Mass Planner have hit the dust. How do you automate your Instagram strategy now?
With the downfalls of Instagress and Mass Planner there were plenty of people upset, and also plenty of people jumping for joy — and for good reason.
If you used Instagram automation programs like Instagress, Mass Planner, or Follow Liker, you are likely aware that you were breaking Instagram’s Terms of Service. But these were massively popular automation tools, and many many people got away with using them as long as they were careful and stuck to certain guidelines.
Automation programs are a godsend to busy people and business owners — because handling your Instagram strategy manually every day is a lot to ask of entrepreneurs who also have Pinterest, Facebook groups, blog posts, collaborations, advertising, sales, etc. to look after on a daily basis.
On the other hand, programs like Instagress and Mass Planner have caused rampant floods of inappropriate comments (like the good old “awesome pic!” comment on a photo of you with your broken leg in the hospital), “fake” likes, and “fake” followers.
Generic and automated comments that plague Instagram thanks to programs like Instagress.
Instagram’s War on False Engagement via Instagram Automation
In April of 2017, Instagram shut down the very popular automation program Instagress.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Instagress was a service that Instagram users could use to automatically perform actions like following, commenting, and liking. With this service, you could follow hundreds of users per day, leave loads of comments, and give thousands of likes.
Why do this?
Because engaging with others on Instagram is one of THE best ways to get them to notice you and follow your account.
But as of April 2017 — One man down. No more Instagress.
Then, in May of 2017 Instagram registered another win against another similar automation service — big hitter Mass Planner was shut down.
Mass Planner is similar to Instagress in that it can be used to automate liking, commenting, and following on Instagram, but it can also be used for other social media platforms as well.
This begs the question: is Follow Liker next?
My best guess is that it’s just a matter of time.
But with all the excitement and change going on, what can you do in order to keep on growing your audience without the use of automation or breaking the rules?
I’ve got you covered.
Here are a few things you can do to save time and still keep your Instagram growing at a healthy rate:
1. Hire a VA to do your Instagram automation manually
If you’ve got the time to dedicate to Instagram everyday, doing all your following, liking and commenting yourself is definitely the way to go. But you can hire someone to do it for you cheaply — and this doesn’t violate Instagram’s TOS.
It’s the most authentic option, and you’ll be able to target your ideal audience even better than if you used an automated bot (plus build real relationships with your potential customers).
Automate your Instagram strategy by hiring a virtual assistant.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend hours on Instagram everyday to see great results — but you DO need to be able to spend a few minutes on the platform several times per day. I.e. spending 10 minutes liking and commenting on the posts of my target audience, repeating 4 times per day (at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm).
Because Instagram has limits to how many likes, comments, and follows you can do per hour. That’s why you’ll need to spread out your strategy throughout the day in order to grow your following.
Generally, the limits are 60 follows, 60 comments, and 350 likes per hour. If you want to avoid getting locked out of performing these actions or getting banned, keep below these limits.
If you’re looking for more ways to grow your account the RIGHT way (without relying on automation that may get you banned), I have a free cheat sheet that will walk you through exactly what you need to do in order to succeed. Interested? Sign up below:
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I realize this is inconvenient, spending small amounts of time throughout the day as opposed to getting it all done at once, but it’s what we have to work with (curse you Instagram!). It can also be very distracting if you’re constantly dropping what you’re doing to get back to Instagram every hour or two.
If you don’t have the time to do all this yourself (and you have a budget to work with), you can hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. There are lots of lovely VAs out there who can perform menial tasks for you, and that includes looking after your social media accounts.
Chris Ducker is the go-to-guy for all things virtual assistant, so if you’re interested in learning more I highly recommend you check out this article: Hiring a VA 101.
2. Cut down on time by scheduling your Instagram posts
I know this doesn’t cover your growth strategies that involve engaging with your audience, but if you’ve got to spend more time in the future doing things manually (as a result of the shutdown of your automation program), you can cut down on your time spent in other areas to make up for it.
By using a program like Later or Plann, you can batch schedule your posts for the week and not have to worry about coming up with compelling captions or the figuring out the perfect hashtags on the fly.
Schedule your posts with the Plann app.
Previously, Instagram didn’t allow real post scheduling at all. You either had to use an illegitimate option (like Mass Planner) to directly schedule posts, which was against Instagram’s TOS. Or you could use one of the legitimate social media management platforms like Hootsuite or Later, but they would only send you a notification when it was time to post and you’d have to login and hit Publish manually.
Thankfully that’s no longer the case and you can schedule your Instagram posts ahead of time using an approved social media management app!
3. Join an engagement group to boost your likes, comments, and followers
Since automation is out, what is a legitimate way to boost the engagement on your posts and gain more targeted followers?
The best answer I can give you right now is to join or create an engagement group.
There are two main types that are most popular and effective:
Small Instagram DM groups with a maximum of 15 people per group.
Basically, you want to form a private message group on Instagram with other people in your niche.
When you publish a new photo to Instagram, you post about in in your DM group and everyone in the group likes and comments on your photo. In return, you do the same for everyone else in the group when they publish something.
This helps you get a boost in likes and comments, encourages your own audience to like and comment, and exposes you to audiences similar to your own.
Join enough groups like these and you can see a considerable boost in follower growth when you post great content (but make sure you stick within your niche for best results!).
Large engagement groups or ‘Rounds’ groups on Telegram.
Since Instagram DM groups are limited to 15 people, many larger groups have formed on other platforms as a result. The platform of choice right now is a chat app known as Telegram (if you’re not familiar with it).
Groups of several hundred to several thousand people join these groups and participate in like rounds at scheduled times.
That way, if you post at the same time as a round, you can get a BIG boost in engagement right away, which can in turn push your post to Instagram’s Explore page.
What’s so great about the Explore page? Once you land there, your post gets exposed to a wider audience of people who are not already following you, and it has a chance to go viral — netting you hundreds of new followers in one go. You’ll still need a bit of luck and the right content to achieve this, but it is incredibly effective when you get it to work.
Interested in finding & joining Instagram and Telegram engagement groups? Read more about it in this detailed blog post.
What are your thoughts on the end of automated programs on Instagram? Good thing / bad thing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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