Beginner Guide

Instagram automation: Strategy and tools to do it right

Automation is a close friend of any social media marketing strategy—Instagram included. This is because automation can help take care of mundane tasks, like scheduling, compiling reports and even responding to common questions asked in DMs.

However, there still needs to be a human element to your Instagram strategy. Instagram automation can alleviate some of the repetitive tasks while allowing your social mean more time to develop creative campaigns. To help you find the right balance, we’ve put together a guide discussing what Instagram automation is, what can be automated and several tools to help you get started.

Let’s dig in.

What is Instagram automation?

Instagram automation refers to the use of third-party software to manage your account, carry out tasks and/or interact with users without a human present.

Simply put, Instagram automation tools can be put into two buckets:

  1. Services that effectively “take control” of your front-facing interactions with users such as likes and comments
  2. Tools that automate Instagram behind the scenes, taking care of tasks such as publishing, reporting and analytics

But does Instagram automation make your business look lazy? We say no—but only if you do it right. As with any other tool or strategy, there are pros and cons to weigh in how your team will implement automation.

Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if you want to start automating certain tasks on Instagram.

Pros:

  • Save time on smaller, tedious tasks. Growing an Instagram presence organically definitely requires a combination of time and strategizing. Instagram automation tools can pick up some of the slack trimming, down time spent on tedious tasks.
  • Grow your follower count faster. Automation undoubtedly helps you boost your follower count. Simply spending time on the platform and interacting with accounts in any way, shape or form will set you up for more engagement by default.
  • Uncover important insights about your audience. There’s no doubt that automation tools help you learn more about your target audience. From breaking down what hashtags people use to suggesting accounts to follow, bots encourage you to take a deeper dive into your audience’s preferences.

Cons:

  • Instagram isn’t a fan of automation “hacks.” Instagram has a history of taking action against  tools that they consider spammy. The platform wants its users to engage authentically and organically, so Instagram put together limits and penalties for tactics they see as potentially gaming their algorithm. More on this in the next section.
  • Poor automation looks spammy. People can spot a bot at a glance. Automating likes and comments is a recipe for a potential social media crisis. Brand accounts should emphasize human interactions and avoid anything that looks spammy.
  • Potentially miss out on important customer interactions. The more you automate on Instagram, the fewer opportunities you have to interact with followers and customers. You can’t provide personalized service with purely automated interactions. Instead, only automate aspects of your Instagram account that encourage you to spend more time with your followers.

Is Instagram automation allowed?

As we’ve discussed, there are pros and cons, but those are subjective. Let’s talk about legalities—or at least, what abides by Instagram’s Community Guidelines—so your account doesn’t get penalized.

The short answer is yes, Instagram automation is allowed. The long answer is that certain types of automation cheapen the experience and make your business look bad online. And some types of automation can even get your account banned.

First, let’s talk about the good kinds of automation—the kinds of automation that can assist your social team and improve your strategy.

What can be automated on Instagram?

If you’re interested in using automation to your advantage, here are a few tasks on Instagram that you can get some robot help with.

  • Likes: Set up a bot with a group of hashtags so the bot can like posts you say are relevant to your brand.
  • Comments: Similarly, a bot can also leave social media comments—on your posts and others. Sprout Social’s Saved Replies and Asset Library are a perfect example of this.
  • Follows and unfollows: Follow and unfollow relevant and irrelevant accounts, respectively. This can help you grow your own follower count.
  • Direct messages: Send and respond to DMs with the help of a bot. You can even set bots up to send messages to people who comment on your posts with a trigger word.
  • Scheduling and publishing: Scheduling Instagram posts is a form of automation—an essential form that every social media team needs.
  • Reporting: Automation tools can also help you monitor your Instagram analytics with insights and reports showcasing your performance.

Things you need to be wary of are engaging too much too quickly—faster than a human typically could—or Instagram could put a limit on your account. Buying likes and followers is also frowned upon. And you’ll want to avoid working with bots and tools that don’t have access to Instagram’s API as they’re not considered legitimate Instagram partners.

9 Instagram automation tools to streamline your work

Want to get started with basic—and allowed—Instagram automation? These nine tools can help give you a head start.

1. Sprout Social

Sprout Social is an all-in-one social media management tool that helps with a number of automation aspects and making Instagram management as seamless as possible for your team. Sprout can assist with a number of tasks, like publishing, response management, productivity tools and analytics. Through automation and other Sprout features, your team can effectively plan, post and manage your Instagram campaigns.

Instagram automations available:

  • Scheduling and publishing
  • Auto-responders and suggested replies in DMs
  • Hashtag discovery
  • Sourcing UGC

2. SocialPilot

SocialPilot is an Instagram automation and analytics tool that helps brands streamline their Instagram strategies. Access features that help you publish content, engage with your audience, view analytics and more. This software allows you to schedule up to 500 posts at once, whether on Instagram or another platform. And the option to save evergreen content and responses for frequent reuse helps social teams respond faster.

A screenshot of SocialPilot's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Scheduling and publishing
  • AI caption generation
  • Reporting
  • Watermarking

3. Kicksta

Kicksta is an AI-based tool dedicated to helping Instagram users grow their followers. Its AI tool focuses on leaving authentic comments and engagement on other Instagram accounts in order to help you grow your following—without buying followers. You provide the guidelines for who to engage with based on a list of competitors, brands and influencers with similar audiences, then Kicksta does the hard work.

A screenshot of Instagram automation tool Kicksta's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Comments
  • Likes

4. Nitreo

Nitreo is another Instagram automation tool focused on helping brands get more followers on Instagram. Nitreo’s tool also engages with real accounts, helping you to keep up Instagram engagement and remain an authentic online presence without ending up with thousands of bot (or bought) followers.

A screenshot of Instagram automation tool Nitreo's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Comments
  • Likes
  • Story views
  • Profile visits

5. Tailwind

Tailwind is an Instagram automation tool that focuses more on scheduling and publishing—but takes a unique approach. This tool is only available for Instagram and Pinterest, ensuring its services are catered to specific needs in the market.

A screenshot of automation tool Tailwind's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Post idea generation
  • Copy generation
  • Graphic and design generation
  • Hashtag discovery
  • Publishing and scheduling

6. NapoleonCat

NapoleonCat is a social media management tool focused on helping brands engage with and support their online customers. Get this tool’s help with moderating and responding to comments and messages, scheduling out your content in advance and generating useful analytics reports.

A screenshot of automation tool NapoleonCat's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Scheduling and publishing
  • Comment moderation
  • Auto-responses for both comments and DMs
  • Reporting

7. Inflact

Inflact provides an entire suite of tools that can be used for Instagram automation. From interacting with other accounts to publishing content, Inflact offers an intuitive dashboard for accessing all of its useful features.

A screenshot of Instagram automation tool Inflact's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Send bulk DMs
  • Follow and unfollow
  • Likes
  • Hashtag discovery
  • Scheduling and publishing

8. Iconosquare

Iconosquare is another option for social media managers looking for a range of features dedicated to Instagram automation. Use this tool for scheduling, monitoring analytics, social listening and more.

A screenshot of automation tool Iconosquare's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Scheduling and publishing
  • Reporting
  • Unread comment/mention discovery

9. OnlySocial

OnlySocial is another useful option for Instagram automation and management. One of its top features in regards to automations is the ability to create Instagram messenger chatbots so that followers can message you and easily get helped by a customer service or sales chatbot.

A screenshot of automation tool OnlySocial's website.

Instagram automations available:

  • Scheduling and publishing
  • RSS feed auto-publishing
  • Instagram messaging chatbot
  • Reporting

Are you using Instagram automation the right way?

There’s plenty to automate on Instagram, granted you let a human take the reins.

If you’re looking to speed up your Instagram growth via automation, your head is in the right place. After all, marketers should always look to add tools to their toolbox in order to engage with more customers.

To learn more about how Sprout Social can help with your Instagram automation journey, request a free demo.

The post Instagram automation: Strategy and tools to do it right appeared first on Sprout Social.

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