Anyone can be an Instagram influencer with automation

I was late to the game on Instagram. I had near mastery of organic Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ for business when I started interning over the summer of 2014. Personally, Instagram never really felt attractive to me. For my personal account, I didn’t really have anything fun to take photos of, besides maybe the occasional night game at Ohio Stadium.

Over that summer, I launched an experiment I wanted to grow @whiskyamerica from scratch, just to see how big I could get it. I like bourbon, and could take photos of bourbon once or twice a week, so it made sense. I could also scrape photos off of /r/bourbon, /r/whiskyporn, and /r/whiskey (sorry guys).

I hate social media automation, but with Instagram, I’m less opposed to the idea. Using Instagress, you can easily achieve targeted, active, engaging, cost-per-follower metrics of <$.01.

Here’s what I did in 2014:

  1. Created the account with the tagline: We travel across the USA in search of the best whiskey in America! Lovers of all bourbon & scotch. Yeah, that’s a lie. I don’t travel a lot. There is no “we”. Declaring self-importance and authority is the first step to being an influencer. You’ve gotta fake it ’til you make it.
  2. Identified key hashtags to target, using Webstagram for search volumes.
  3. I needed followers (the second step to being an influencer), so I developed an iMacro script which automatically liked photos on Instagram related to the content I was posting. It ran in-browser, utilizing Webstagram or Iconosquare, and did not surpass Instagram’s API call limit. I ran it anytime I had my computer on in the background. The second step I later sold a more advanced version of the script for $5 a pop on my website using purely on-site organic SEO, but that’s a different story.
  4. Last, I needed content, so I ripped photos from IFTTT (new post in /r/bourbon as the trigger) to my Dropbox account for easy access on my phone.
  5. I posted regularly, and cross-posted/scraped content to Twitter with IFTTT. Just to see what the account could do on its own (totally automated).
Photo on vacation in Minnesota; script ran while I was on the boat :D

The Results:

  • >2000 followers in less than two months, using only automated liking. I targeted hashtags related to my posts (if I posted a glencairn of Makers Mark, I would target #MakersMark for likes).
  • >80 likes per post, on average. The third (and final) step to being an influencer is having a following that actually cares. Using the targeted scripts, I was able to only acquire followers who actually cared about my content (and thus engaged).
  • Multiple industry verified accounts followed
  • Multiple offers to review/promote products in exchange for free goods (I did not take any of them up).

This was a very rudimentary attempt at Instagram automation, and I’ve since retired @whiskyamerica for the most part.

The Next Episode: Instagress

Since then I’ve switched to Instagress, which runs without a browser and with far more complex rule options. At $.33 a day for the monthly package, Instagress is a steal of a platform.

For the experiments I’m running, I’m achieving about a $.0035 cost per follower, far better than any Instagram ad could get you. I’ve done a bunch of tweaking to avoid bot followers; currently acquisition is about 95% in the target segment, 5% spam/bots.

Here are my settings:

  • Still targeting hashtags relevant to my niche (research via Webstagram)
  • Activities: likes, follows & unfollows (strings of 2000, to keep my ratio in tact).
  • Activity Speed: fast
  • Min likes filter: 1
  • Unfollow source: Instagress (so I’m not unfollowing people I actually want to follow)
  • You can download the keyword blacklist I use here (I don’t want my account affiliated with profane content).
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.