Should you use bots to increase your social media following and engagement?
Social media users have been using bots and auto-posting software for years as a method to quickly increase follower numbers and engagement. The one reason why so many influential social media users (notably bloggers, social influencers and businesses) have been doing this is because it works. For a sum of money and using the right software you can quickly increase your 100 followers to 1000, doing minimum work. It’s inexpensive, easy and requires very little work – plus it gets results.
So, should you be using these bots and software for your business’ social media? No, is the short answer. Inexpensive, easy and quick it might be, but like most things in life if it looks too good to be true it is!
If you remember way back to the dark days of SEO when buying links was a near sure way of getting your business to the top of Google rankings and how many websites suddenly fell in rankings when Google updated its algorithm to combat the use of these black-hat tactics; this is the social media equivalent. Just as Google started penalising businesses for carrying out black hat SEO, the major social media platforms are starting to penalise those using black hat social media strategies.
Using bots and auto-posting software is in direct violation to the vast majority of social media platforms’ terms and conditions, and many are starting to implement penalties on accounts believed to be using these tactics.
An example of this was earlier this year when Instagram began imposing shadowbans on accounts it believed was using banned techniques. This meant that not only accounts distributing abusive and inappropriate images and behaviour were penalised, but also those that used repetitive hashtags and liked, commented on and followed an abnormal number of posts and accounts. The shadowban resulted in posts not being seen by users, except those already following the account, which for many accounts led to a decrease in followers and post engagement. While there was some controversy to this shadowban, mainly because some innocent accounts also got penalised and accounts were not aware they had been penalised – it does highlight the fact that Instagram is starting to implement strategies to combat unethical behaviour.
This is believed to be just the start in the crack-down on using bots and other banned software. Social media platforms know when a bot is linked to your account and will penalise an account for doing so.
Even if social media platforms didn’t penalise accounts for using bots and auto-posting software, affinity would still recommend not to use them. The reason being that as a business your strategy should be to build a social media following of relevant users who are likely to ultimately convert into sales and revenue growth. Following accounts not relevant to your business might inflate your following and engagement, but of no real benefit to your business.
So, what should your business do to increase relevant followers and engagement?
As with good SEO, with social media there are no short-cuts to building a large following of engaged and relevant users. Creating high quality content that is engaging to your target audience is the key to building your social media following of users likely to convert. To do this, you need to have a clear idea of who your target audience is and what engages them. As well as this, you need to have a comprehensive social media strategy in place that is designed to generate social media growth, engagement and conversion.
Done right social media takes time and hard work, but ultimately helps to build brand awareness and revenue growth. At affinity we are experienced in working with businesses from all sectors and helping them to build their social media following and engagement, whether it is creating social media strategies, carrying out audits or implementing paid social campaigns – all of which are designed to help businesses grow on social media and ultimately convert their following into revenue growth.
Written by Derin Clark, Content Strategist