The latest in social media news provided a much-needed reminder that it’s never a good strategy to game an algorithm. Just last week, Facebook started cracking down on Instagram Pods that have been used to trick the Instagram algorithm.
In my humble opinion, it’s best to rely on reputable, known tools and platform features, many of which I blog about each week. Take for example, the new Instagram Stories emoji sticker that can help you engage your Instagram audience. Or Facebook’s new 3D drawing tool. The platforms want you to use their tools and they are constantly working to find ways to keep you using them by introducing new features, almost every day.
With that said, here are the top five social media hacks that marketers and brands should NEVER use.
Using Instagram Pods
An Instagram Pod is a group of users who like and comment on each others content to inflate the metrics and get seen by more people.
The Buzzfeed report last week about large Facebook Groups of users devoted to helping each other game the Instagram algorithm disappearing should be a cautionary tale to everyone looking to hack their way to social media success.
The rewards of using Instagram Pods to boost Reach are extremely temporary and require a lot of effort. If you’re really passionate about improving your social presence, it’s much more efficient to focus that time and energy conducting meaningful interaction with users you follow or public content that’s related to your own.
Auto Twitter DMs
There’s nothing more annoying than following a Twitter user and getting a direct message that was clearly automated and impersonal. Twitter is the fastest moving social media channel and reading auto DMs are a waste of the user’s time and do more harm than good.
Twitter DMs make you look like a robot and users who’ve been tweeting for years will interpret the automation as a signal that you’re not going to interact with their content, so why should they spend time looking at yours?
Twitter and Instagram have both been cracking down on automation because users find it spammy and annoying. Personalizing automation can be highly effective for driving sales, but when it’s a simple “thanks for following, check out my mixtape on SoundCloud,” you’ll be lucky if recipients of those messages are still following you moments later.
Automated Instagram Comments
Using popular hashtags on Instagram can attract some suspicious activity. I’m sure we’ve all seen those “Nice pic!” comments after posting a video with a hashtag like #instagood. There are tools that people pay for to leave automatic replies, and they believe these tools will help amass a large following on Instagram that will improve their social presence—they couldn’t be more wrong.
A large following is meaningless when the engagement is low. And buying followers or using tools to engage with posts automatically won’t retain high quality followers or sustainable growth.
Profiles who leave automatic likes, comments, and follows on Instagram are playing a game they will inevitably lose. Don’t risk getting your company’s or client’s account shut down. Instead, spend that time and energy running ads or engaging with people.
Static Images as video FB posts
Facebook has been rewarding video content with more Reach for the past couple years now. Content creators have since tried to hack the algorithm by posting static images as videos to win back the lost reach. It’s not advised to try to trick Facebook when posting content with a brand or company page.
Last year, Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm to detect and restrict reach of images disguised as video posts. It’s akin to poking a sleeping bear with a stick, sure it might work at first, but it won’t work forever.
Using more than two hashtags on the average social post is only acceptable on Instagram (and maybe LinkedIn). There’s a hack for abusing Instagram hashtags where people have added 30 tags to the post comments, then later edited the post caption to add more hashtags. Don’t poke a sleeping bear with a stick when the bear is Facebook and it has control over the two most popular social networks in the world.
Take the time to be engaging and human. Some of these methods i just went through may lead to 100-500 new followers quickly but you’ll eventually see them start to disappear and they’ll never engage with your content. Being social on social media may only yield 20-40 new followers, but this is much more valuable because they are probably following you for a reason and are likely to engage with you in the future.
Want some help making your brand more human on social media?