Typically I am going to avoid posting anything too controversial here (I don’t want anyone to feel attacked – ever!) but today I am going to open up a dialogue about a program that you may have heard of before: Instagress.
In case you haven’t heard about Instagress or similar programs, the gist is this: You link up your Instagram account and set up hashtags and Instagress will go out and automatically ‘like’ and sometimes even comment for you without having you vet the pictures before hand. The obvious problem is that this is against Instagram’s TOS and you can have your account permanently shut down for using it (and many, many people have!), but the issues I have with Instagress go a lot further than just that. And my biggest issue is:
Instagress cheapens your brand.
You can either be real, authentic, and engaging on Instagram, or you can use Instagress to automate comments. You can’t have both.
Everyone can tell when they’ve been ‘Instagress-ed’ and it’s annoying as heck. I always post hashtags on my pictures so they reach a larger audience, but my blogger-focused hashtags typically result in receiving a ton of irrelevant and unrelated comments. A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my feet in the ocean and I got a comment that said. “That looks so cute on you!!” with an array of emojis.
Uhh…the ocean looks cute on me?
I was disappointed when I checked the girl’s profile and saw that she was a fairly big blogger and was knowingly putting herself forth as inauthentic. As always I went through and made note of their username before deleting the comment and moving on. With one (misplaced) comment, this blogger made a terrible first impression and I lost respect for her hustle before she even gave me the chance to gain any.
People use Instagress to build their Instagrams, and it works to an extent. But a large number of people that you are Instagressing are going to see right through you and think less of you because of it. For every comment you leave via Instagress, there are three potential results:
- You have yourself a new follower!
- They don’t realize that they’ve been Instagressed because they did post a “great pic!” They don’t follow you back or engage with you, but still. No harm, no foul.
- They see right through you and now you look spammy.
I take pride in my brand in that it’s very real and authentic. When I leave a comment on Instagram it’s specific and catered to the picture I’m commenting on. Not “Great Pic!” Or “So pretty!” While there is nothing wrong with those comments if you really mean them, that’s not how I’m building my brand. What is wrong, though, is commenting something that really doesn’t fit the picture at all. When I see people comment, “You look gorgeous!” on pictures of a sunrise I can’t help but feel a lot of second hand embarrassment for them, but mostly I just write them off as yet another blogger who is trying to take shortcuts in building their empire.
How to build your Instagram (without Instagress.)
I think that people get so wrapped up with the pros of Instagress (and there are a lot!) that they don’t even consider the negatives, and I get that. Any program the promises to boost your following and you engagement in enticing. Heck, I was so close to joining Instagress around 6 months ago, so trust me. I’ve been there!
The truth is, if you want to build a brand that is ridiculously real and authentic there is not going to be a quick fix, You’re going to have to be intentional and choose to take the time to reach out to users who align with you and who align with your brand. Here is the condensed guide on how to do so:
- Be engaging! Don’t expect followers to engage with you if you aren’t engaging with them. Leave comments, like pictures, and say hello! If they are constantly seeing your user name in their alerts, they are likely to return the favor!
- Search hashtags! Go through your favorite hashtags and leave comments on the best pictures. But leave real comments that are specific to the picture, generic comments aren’t going to get you anywhere!
- Be active! Beyond engaging with other users, give other users something to engage with! The more active you are posting high quality pictures and using hashtags, the more followers and engagement you’ll gain!
I love Instagram, and I’ll be writing a lot about it here in the coming weeks. But for now I hope that you’ll consider what I’ve said about Instagress. Yes, it’s so so tempting, but it’s not worth it! You can make only good impressions by being present and authentic, or you can risk looking foolish by using Instagress.
Want to party with me on Instagram? Check me out here!