It’s no secret that Instagram despises any inauthentic engagement or activity on their platform. Marketing automation tools are a huge innovation in the digital business world, effectively saving users time, money, and precious energy – but even the most efficient of bots fail to accurately replicate human interaction.
And those genuine online connections and communities are exactly what Instagram wants to preserve. According to their platform policies, accounts are expected to “uniquely tailor” their interactions to each person. Spam or other unauthorized communication is thus strictly prohibited.
Not to mention Rule 24: “Respect the limits we’ve placed on Instagram functionality and the way Instagram looks and functions. Don’t offer experiences that change it.” Can’t get any more clear-cut than that.
Though the news was unfortunate, it, therefore, comes as no surprise that the popular Instagram automation service, Instagress, was shut down in early 2017. Users from all niches, industries, and online communities were drawn to this third-party tool and its promises of Instagram popularity, only to leave the online sphere after a short-lived run.
So What Is Instagress?
The concept of Instagress is one we’ve all heard before – a service that automated likes, comments, follows, and unfollows on your account’s behalf. Because it had your profile rapidly interacting with hundreds of other users, it, therefore, raised your profile visibility and your chances of having someone like your content or follow you back.
Their process of automation was simple: users provided a list of hashtags they wanted to target, and Instagress’ bots set to work in “engaging” with accounts and content under these specified tags.
It was an easy tool to use, and a cheap one at that. The app was thus a no-brainer for brands and influencers looking to grow an online presence.
Why Was Instagress Shut Down?
Unfortunately, what the service (and most other bot services) failed to consider was the context of posts it automatically left comments on. This, therefore, resulted in often spammy, unrelated, or downright inappropriate remarks on the content of many displeased Instagram users.
On top of that, Instagram has limits on the number of likes, follows, and comments you’re able to churn out every hour and day.
According to an article this year by Social Pros, profiles are limited to one follow every 28-38 seconds, and under 200 an hour. With likes, it’s one every 28-36 seconds. The daily limit for both is 1000; if you hit this cap, you must allow a 24-hour break before restarting the cycle.
Comments are slightly different and must be kept under 12-14 an hour, leaving a 300-400 second break between each one.
To top it off, these restrictions are even more limiting on newer accounts and may fluctuate depending on your engagement and follower count.
Here’s the thing, though: such constraints are difficult to consistently breach when performing these actions manually. If your account is constantly hitting the limit, it’s likely to alert Instagram of sketchy, unnatural behaviour from your profile. Though limitations may have evolved since 2017, this was likely the case with Instagress’ demise.
The performances of their bots were an evident violation of the API rule, “Don’t offer experiences that change [the way Instagram functions],” along with their accidentally irrelevant and spam-like comments sprees.
Are There Instagress Alternatives?
Just last year, Instagram did an even further crackdown on any users who may be using inappropriate, bot-like behaviour to garner inauthentic, meaningless engagement. The platform began removing any follows likes, or comments that they deemed “fake” or ingenuine activity.
Additionally, they’ve sent out warnings to users affiliated with such apps, instructing them to change their password and cut ties with such services. Anyone who continued to use these apps may see their Instagram experience negatively impacted, such as blocked access to certain features.
Furthermore, users could experience a shadowban (restricted engagement), a temporary account ban, or a permanent ban altogether.
So is this the end of all automated marketing apps as we know it? Not necessarily.
We may see a gradual cease in bot-powered engagement; these including fake accounts and generic, out-of-context post comments. This, however, is a good thing.
Instagram’s algorithm for 2019 currently prioritizes three factors when ranking posts on your Explore feed: your active relationships with other users, your topics of interest, and of course – the timeliness of posts being shared.
A major flaw with Instagress was the lack of evaluation during the automated engagement process. As a result, fake or inactive accounts were likely thrown in the mix; which could leave little to no real engagement growth for the user. According to the algorithm updates, gaining content exposure on the feeds of real, potential audiences means interacting with organic, active accounts.
Thankfully, those looking for an Instagress replacement can find similar automated tools that perform well within these Instagram guidelines – also granting you actual reach and engagement in the process! Below are some of the most effective services to give a try:
Instagress Alternative #1 – Kenji
Though we’ve discussed the risky use of bots on Instagram, Kenji is an exception that’s 100% safe to use.
An Instagress alternative that avoids violating any API regulations, Kenji works to raise your profile visibility by automating your likes for you.
Working As A “Safe” Instagress Replacement
While this is similar to one of Instagress’ features, Kenji does not comment, DM, or follow users on your behalf. All it does is perform “likes” within Instagram’s limitations, growing your exposure while keeping you safe from getting shadowbanned or other penalties.
As explained by the online magazine, Medium: “Most of us don’t tend to have ill-will against a “like” from a person we don’t know, and in fact, we’re usually pretty happy or at least indifferent to an extra like in one of our posts.” They also mention how “like” automation actually incentivizes Instagram, boosting engagement rates for the app.
Instagrammers can, therefore, use this tool without worry, optimizing it as a little background task for increasing their discoverability on the app.
The setup is easy: users just need to sign up on the Kenji website (new users get a free, 3-day trial!) and add their Instagram account on the provided dashboard. You’ll then be asked to specify hashtags you wish to target, and Kenji instantly begins “liking” all content related to your provided tags.
Other profiles related to your Instagram niche will likely see your “like” notification, possibly engaging back or at the very least, check out your content and brand.
The best part is, Kenji avoids any fake accounts and specifically targets real, active users within your industry. Their system thus grants real engagement and reach for your profile.
On top of hashtags, you can also choose to target users from the audience of fellow competitors, or via specific locations.
Click here to try Kenji for free.
Instagress Alternative #2 – Skweezer
If you’re looking to raise the comments and follower counts on your profile, Skweezer provides users with a safe, risk-free way of buying active followers and “authentic” comments, likes, and views.
Sounds like a quick, awesome solution to your Instagram growth, eh?
Working As A “Safe” Instagress Replacement
Here’s how it works: Skweezer has a network comprised of millions of real, active Instagram users. These people are paid to follow, like, and view the profiles of Skweezer’s clients; and in return receive a percentage of the company’s earnings.
Thus, anyone who purchases engagement from Skweezer can rest assured that they’re well within Instagram’s guidelines. There are no bots or automated software involved – these are real (albeit paid) interactions performed by real people.
The service offers subscription packages for comments, likes, followers, and even Instagram views. You’ll be billed monthly, and the higher-priced the package – the more activity Skweezer provides your account.
Since receiving a great chunk of followers or likes may seem unnatural or fishy, you can even set the speed at which they are delivered. You can also customize your bought comments to avoid “spammy” content. This helps you further ensure the safety of your account.
While efficient, affordable, and an all-around convenient Instagress alternative, Skweezer sadly does not provide you with targeted followers. This means that while the engagement provided is technically real, they aren’t people who are truly interested in your content and brand mission.
Still, it’s an effective way of boosting your follower count (leading to the blue “verified” tick on your account), and increasing your engagement rates to get on the “Explore” page.
Instagress Alternative #3 – Upleap
Similarly to Skweezer, Upleap is a quality option for any Instagrammer looking to boost the comment, follow, and like activity on their profile. The service doesn’t rely on bot activity or automated systems; instead, the company matches you up with your very own virtual account manager.
Those interested can quickly sign up to the company on their official website. Like Kenji, new users are also granted with a free, 3-day trial.
The system instantly provides you with your designated account manager. You’ll then be asked a series of questions related to your account and brand goals, helping your manager gain a thorough understanding of your audience and who they’re meant to target.
Users can provide hashtags and competitors to help their manager find content specific to their niche. Their manager will then engage with these accounts, helping you connect with new, potential followers who have similar interests to your profile. Businesses who wish to see growth in a particular location can also target potential followers by region.
Working As A “Safe” Instagress Replacement
In contrast to the paid engagement you gain from Skweezer – any interactions you receive in return will be from people actually interested in your mission.
Of course, to keep your account safe, Upleap also avoids interaction with fake or inauthentic accounts. You’ll find your profile growing with a real, organic audience who are bound to continue engaging and following your content.
The service, however, does not update your feed on our behalf. This leaves all creative control in your hands, as you have the more menial, routine marketing tasks taken care of for you.
With the ability to grow your Instagram by up to 300%, it’s no wonder users are flocking to Upleap as their ideal Instagress alternative. Try it today, and watch your account rise to Instagram success.
Click here to try Upleap for free.
Instagress Alternative #4 – Engagement Pods
If you’d rather not rely on a third-party app or service, perhaps you’d benefit from participating in engagement pods. These aren’t an exact Instagress “replacement”, but they’re still an effect of boosting authentic activity on your account.
Also known as engagement “groups”, pods are exclusive online communities that are dedicated to liking and commenting on one another’s posts. They can vary drastically in size, from groups of over a thousand members (also known as “mass pods”) to highly specific, smaller groups targeting a particular niche (ex. wedding photography or health and beauty).
Why Do People Use Engagement Pods?
These groups work with the conditions set by the Instagram algorithm: when you first share a post, the platform “grades” its performance within the small window of time since its initial posting. If it does well in engagement, Instagram acknowledges this as quality content, raising its visibility among your followers’ feeds and the Explore tab.
Users who participate in engagement pods are determined to engage in one another’s content within the initial “grading” period, therefore boosting their overall quality score and therefore improving their reach.
At the same time, these groups are also an effective way of getting to know other dedicated people within your Instagram niche.
How Do I Become Part Of An Engagement Pod?
The way these pods work is pretty simple; it’s finding one suited to your business goals and niche that may prove a challenge for many. Such groups also aren’t readily advertised – many are unwilling to disclose their use of them, in case they’re seen as “gaming” the algorithm – but doing a little bit of digging on social media sites may just lead you to one that fits.
Doing a Google search or two will likely lead you to broader, “mass” pods than one exclusive to a particular community, but trawling Facebook groups, subreddits (ex. “r/IGPods”) and even Instagram itself are great places to start.
Found Your Instagress Replacement?
Instagress continues to be missed by many, but marketing automation tools are here to stay. It’s all about working the algorithm to your advantage while keeping clean within Instagram’s guidelines. With these tools and tactics, you’re sure to pull a huge marketing weight off your shoulders – and completely risk-free, at that.