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:
- 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.
- Identified key hashtags to target, using Webstagram for search volumes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- >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).