Have you ever been tempted by the elusive unicorn of Instagram automation?

We don’t blame. The Instagram automation software sites show a beautiful picture of your phone growing organically with comments and likes. You can relax and watch your social media grow effortlessly.

Consult brands like Nike, NASA, or whoever manages Obama’s social media networks.

Oh, and who is that in your DMs, Doja Cat? Doja Cat and Taika Waititi both asked for a follow-up. Wow, this is everything that you had hoped for, right?


It was a trial that I tried. Doja Cat did notreturn any messages I sent. I also lost some time, money, and a little bit of dignity.

There are legitimately useful Instagram automation tools. We’ll get to them in the end of this article. First, let me tell you what happened to me when I tried Instagram automation.

Bonus Get a free checklist that shows the exact steps a fitness blogger used to grow their Instagram following from 0 to 600,000.

What is Instagram automation?

To be clear, we are referring to Instagram automation that allows you to like posts, follow accounts, comment, and so forth.

Your bots should sound and act exactly like you. The bots then go out and find accounts that they think you will like. They will interact with you using the parameters you have set, hopefully in a natural way.

Engaging with other accounts will result in them engaging with you. You’ll build a following by engaging with real people using a bot to do all the work.

However, robots can’t foster relationships for you, just like real friends. Wall-E types are exempted, of course. It’s impersonal and people tend not to know when a bot is pretending that they are a person. People hate it.

Instagram is quick to ban people who hate something. They want their real users happy to spend as much time on the app as possible, so they take social media tricks that are black-hat very seriously.

Instagram automation is one of those black-hat tactics, like engagement pods. We tried them and they failed. It’s similar to buying Instagram followers. We tried it too. It left us with a large number of followers, zero engagement and a lot of clearly fake followers.

What is NOT Instagram Automation?

Let me be clear: There are many legitimate and excellent Instagram automation software and tools. They do all the work for you and let you focus on strategies that will authentically scale your social media efforts, such as creating content that your followers want to see.

This article will discuss Instagram automation practices that are illegal. This does not apply to the legitimate tools that we love and know. This article will include a list of some of our favorite software and tools.

What did I do with Instagram automation

We are now on the same page about what “Instagram Automation” means so we can get to the nitty-gritty.

I did what most people do to get here: I Googled “Instagram automation” and found Plixi, which was one of the first Google-advertised Instagram automation services. It seemed like a good place for me to start.

Experiment 1

Step 1: Sign up

It was easy and quick to sign up. I linked my Instagram account, and entered my credit card details. I used an account that had 51 followers, so it was only possible to go up.

Plixi’s homepage boasted about a patent-pending model. They are basically crawling Instagram and using machine-learning to interact with like-minded accounts, encouraging followers, and engaging them.

Step 2: Growth Settings

Plixi asked me to adjust my growth settings after I signed up. You can choose “slow” to grow your followers. This is available for 24 hours before you have pay for a monthly subscription at $49. It is slow.

Plixi could target their followers if I added “accounts similar to mine” to my account. This was difficult because Scholar Collars, the account I was using, was a silly fashion line that I launched at the start of the pandemic.

You may be wondering what Scholar Collars are. I created collared dickies for those last-minute oh-my-God-I’m-still-wearing-pajamas Zoom meetings.

Keep one in your desk drawer and then put it on under your sweater or t-shirt for a professional upgrade. Zoom allows you to see only your neck and shoulders so other attendees will think you’re wearing business casual chic.

This post was shared by Scholar Collars (@scholarcollars).

It wasn’t easy to find similar accounts. So I added @Zoom.

There were other options, but none that were as successful as a Pro account.

Step 3: Start

I clicked the Start Growth button and Plixi began finding me new followers. Within 2 minutes, I had a crypto app account.

In my activity dashboard, Plixi also stated that they had “Reached nine users based upon @zoom”, though it’s not clear what that actually means. As far as I could tell, they hadn’t reached outto nine users.

Step 4: Watch my followers grow

Within 24 hours, I had eight new followers, taking my total to 59. My follower count increased to 100 the next day. My follower count grew to 245 in a week. This is quite acceptable considering it wasn’t cheap or easy to buy followers. The accounts seemed legitimate, and the growth wasn’t too rapid that Instagram didn’t want to flag my account.

But, I now have 245 followers and only seven likes on one photo. Noactivity on my account. I was under the impression that Plixi would like to comment from my account. It didn’t.

Growth was great, but what’s the point? I got no engagement for $50. Plixi had not interacted with other accounts so I wasn’t able to determine where the followers were coming in. However, it wasn’t organic engagement.

Plixi was disappointing. But, like any good researcher I tried another experiment.

Experiment #2,

Step 1: Locate an Instagram comment bot

I wanted to automate engagement after Plixi. Naturally, I googled “Instagram commentbot and automatic Instagram likes”

One that automatically sends DMs was the one I found. Yikes. It seemed a little too personal. Another one promised me it was a real human. If you’ve read our chatbot dos and don’ts you’ll see that it’s a chatbot-don’t.

Instaswift seemed more like what I was looking for — they offered a free Instagram-like bot trial. Sold.

Step 2: Get the Instagram bot for no cost

The free Instagram bot gave you 10 to 15 likes on your three most recent uploaded photos. It failed to work for me when I tried it. Instaswift is off to a rough start.

Source: Instaswift

Step 3: Pay for it

$15 for a week of Instaswift, with 3-4 comments, is $15. We’re still moving forward, despite the disappointment of the free trial. Perhaps they treat paying customers better.

Step 4: Upload a photo

To make it work, you have to upload a new photo. The one I chose to represent Gus, my friend’s cat, got 110 likes and four comment. If I hadn’t started the follower campaign, the surge in likes would have been fake. It only looks fake now if you really look.

I chose to cancel my subscription because it automatically renews every week.

Now, I had to find a bot that would comment onmy account.

Experiment 3

Step 1: Locate a comment bot

PhantomBuster was my third experiment. It promised to automatically post comments from my account.

It promised Instagram automation for free after a 14-day trial. Sold.

Step 2: Sign up to get started

PhantomBuster uses cookies in order to log into your account and comment on your behalf. After I had all that done, it asked me to create a spreadsheet with URLs for posts and examples of comments.

I then sent Phantom Buster to “go” and sat back.

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Step 3: Review your results

The bot automatically commented upon three posts. These were the comments and account URLs I had added to my spreadsheet. I would have spent less time commenting on the posts.

PhantomBuster charged me for something I could have done, even though it was a free trial.

Lessons from Instagram Automation

Instagram automation is not a secret route to instafame and even more engagement. It was a waste of my time and money.

There is no legitimate, risk-free service for Instagram automation

Paige Cooper and Evan LePage, both Hootsuite writers, discovered that automating Instagram marketing is possible.

Paige Cooper tried three sites: InstaRocket and Instamber. After gaining and losing fewer than ten followers, she described her experiment as “shockingly unsuccessful”. Paige was able to respond to some comments, including “Why did you buy followers?” and “U have very few likes.”

Evan LePage used Instagress, now defunct, to gain 250 followers in just 3 days. He reported:

“I [automatically] commented on “your pics > mine” on a selfie taken by a boy clearly in middle school. His account actually contained only four photos, three of which were selfies. I felt uncomfortable. I felt uncomfortable.


The experience was a letdown for me. Yes, I did get some new followers and comments. However, I realized that the followers and comments weren’t aligned to my brand.

It is impossible to automate Instagram legally, effectively, and without any risk.

It’s not worth spending the time to search and set up.

Finding legitimate apps (AKA apps that weren’t too sketchy or toosimple) was one of my biggest frustrations. It took some time and effort to set them up with my Instagram account, and then check in on them.

If I had spent the same amount time working on a social strategy, I would be in a better place right now.

Useful and legitimate Instagram automation tools

Here’s the good stuff. There are many helpful Instagram automation tools that can be used to help you get your goals. There is no magic wand that will get you what you want. There are magic wands you can use to make your workday easier.

Scheduling software by Hootsuite

Scheduling software lets you plan your Instagram posts in advance so you don’t have to worry about them on the day. Hootsuite’s scheduling tools are a dream for busy content creators, marketers, and key to saving time in your social media marketing efforts.

Hootsuite Analytics

Tools for Instagram analytics can automate reports so you can see what’s successful and what’s not. You can also pull reports easily for managers or clients that show results across all social media platforms. Although we are biased, we love Hootsuite Analytics and so do social media managers.


Chatbots for Instagram are a great way to reduce the time and effort required to answer customer questions, provide customer support, or sell products. You just need to find one that you trust. Heyday is a partner of ours.

Heyday allows you to manage all your customer queries from one dashboard. This makes it easy to check your Instagram DMs. It also automates your messages, such as frequently asked questions.


Hootsuite’s social listening tool

Social listening and hashtag monitoring tools allow you to crawl keywords that are important to your brand. You can search for relevant topics and see who is saying it, then comment back.

Hootsuite is the best tool to help you build your Instagram presence. Hootsuite allows you to schedule and publish posts directly on Instagram, engage with your audience, measure performance, manage all your social media profiles, and more — all from one dashboard. Get it today for free.

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Hootsuite makes it easy to create, analyze, schedule, and publish Instagram Stories, Stories, or Reels . Save time and get better results.

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The post I Tried Instagram Automation (So That You Don’t Have to): An Experiment appeared on Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard.