One of the most challenging things about social media is that oversight is generally a mystery. There are no announcements when social media providers decide to drop bombs on users, as in the case of Instagram’s recent crackdown on bots. 

You may have bought followers in the past to boost numbers in an effort to increase overall traffic. You may have had fake followers without even realizing it. Either way, in the case of a bot crackdown, you could go to sleep with a solid, engaged social media following and wake up to very different scenario the next day, as a crackdown on bots can inadvertently affect your own social media following. 

If anything, a bot crackdown could be a great opportunity to focus on social media tactics to organically increase engagement and boost your conversions from page followers to customers.

So, what to do when a social media channel decides to crack down on bots? Below are some tips to help ensure that real humans engage with your content and convert, bot crackdown or not.

Build organic traffic instead of paying for likes and follows

It’s tempting to pay for a boost in likes and follows. And as part of a strategy for growing your overall brand presence, it may be a worthwhile investment for a specific period of time. But don’t base your entire following on purchased likes and followers. It’s not worth it. Not only will you end up getting directly caught up in bot crackdowns, but those likes aren’t actually useful to your brand. They’re not human, so they don’t convert into customers.

Focus on manual content engagement instead of automated

Automated engagement apps like Instazood promise to increase traffic to your page, boost your followers and increase your profile on social media. But be wary. 

Not only are they susceptible to crackdowns, but the activity they generate can be perceived as spammy by people on the receiving end of random likes or generic comments on a page such as “beautiful!” or “cool pics!”  Rather than building goodwill for your brand, this could actually hurt it and drive people away from your company. 

If you do use automated engagement, slow your roll

For busy entrepreneurs, automated engagement is attractive. But if the bots employed to engage for you are commenting, liking and posting too frequently, particularly on Instagram, you run the risk of getting “action-blocked.” 

That means that the platform will temporarily block your account from being able to perform a certain action, such as like posts, comment, or invite people to like your page. The details are nebulous and Instagram’s own internal rules on this are constantly shifting, but the general purpose is to reduce spammy activity on the platform.

One thing you can do to avoid this is to adjust the settings on whatever automation service you’re using, to slow down the frequency of engagement. That will stop you from being picked up so easily by spam detectors.

Don’t automate all your posting

If your brand is very active on social media, you know that scheduling posts through an automated service can be a real lifesaver. But scheduled and automated posts should never be your primary mode of posting on your brand’s social media channels.

Whether or not that kind of automation sets off the bot sensors, it’s an ineffective engagement practice, because people can really tell when a human isn’t behind the wheel.

An example of automated social posting really backfiring was the infamous time that Progressive Insurance used a bot to auto-reply to tweets that concerned an extremely serious and tragic legal case the company was involved in. Progressive came off as insensitive and out of touch. They would have fared better if a human had responded to those comments individually.

On the flip side, the best thing about having a human write and send those tweets is that you can capture the zeitgeist of a moment. The best example of this might be the great chicken sandwich war of 2019, when Popeye’s came out with a new chicken sandwich and basically got in a back-and-forth with Chick-Fil-A that all the major fast food brands were suddenly jumping into. 

It was Popeye’s ability to jump into the fray with cheeky tweets about the other brands’ chicken sandwich tweets that made them come out on top.

Had they been scheduling all their tweets they couldn’t have jumped on a moment that was one of the biggest viral Twitter phenomena of the year.

Keep a consistent posting schedule so your following knows when you’re posting

If you post 30 times in one day, and then don’t post for five days, it can be confusing for those who follow you. By keeping a reasonably consistent posting schedule, you’re showing your following that you are reliable, and this helps build a sense of trust in your brand. And a trusted brand brings in more followers, and higher conversion rates.

Push promotions and sales to social media to promote activity and conversions

You know what will really get people engaged and clicking on your content? A good deal. People can’t resist a great sale on an awesome product. So, when you’re able to offer promos or sales, make sure you blast it out all over your social media channels. Post about your promos consistently and do pay the social media platform to promote those posts. Unlike spammy bot services that do so little to convert customers, this is something actually worth paying for