If you haven’t done so already, make sure you read our previous article about Instagress so you have some background to this developing story. Skip down towards the first headline if you have already.
Just in case you aren’t aware already, a large proportion of activity on Instagram is the result of automated programs which follow, like, comment and unfollow without you having to do this manually.
You might use social media management tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer to help manage social media activity in one platform, but you’ll notice that they are more focused on content and account management rather than automated account growth.
The easiest way to spot bot activity on Instagram is to look for comments that don’t make contextual sense or comments as emoji’s as well as likes from random accounts who have a high ‘following’ counter.
On 21 April last month, after a period of website outage, one of the most popular web-based Instagram automation tools called “Instagress” was shut down. Massplanner was obviously the next best service which was in Facebook’s sights.
Just weeks after Instagress was shut down, another one bites the dust. Mass Planner was arguably the best quality alternative to Instagress. It was highly popular in the growth hacking and black hat communities. In fact Massplanner was the most recommended platform following Instagress’ demise on most of the discussion boards on Black Hat World and some Facebook groups we follow.
On Friday 12 May (or in the early hours of Australia’s Saturday morning on 13 May), Mass Planner’s website homepage has been replaced with an almost identical message to the one that has featured on the Instagress website.
“We are sorry, but at the request of Instagram we have been forced to close our service. We will provide more information as soon as we can.”
Mass Planner was popular because it was a desktop application which allowed users to manage usual social media content together with bot automation.
Mass Planner’s somewhat technical implementation process limited the platform’s use to a smaller audience of digital marketing professionals who had the technical expertise to successfully manage their accounts outside of the mainstream platforms. Users could successfully take advantage of all the exploitable holes in each social media platform to grow their accounts quickly, without major expense. You could call these people ‘growth hackers’ although, this is a term I would be careful of labelling other’s with. The vast majority of growth hackers in our experience tend to be full of BS.
The cause for Mass Planner’s service being discontinued is likely identical to Instagress’ closure last month. Everyone has been waiting with baited breath for the next best platform to feel the heat from Facebook. Would it be Massplanner or Social Hawk or Archie or Followliker or Instaplus?
While I heard through colleagues who spoke to Social Hawk’s management last month that Instagress was shut down as the result of intellectual property infringement (and this is still likely) the main argument Facebook’s legal team would use to gain an injunction (services being suspended quickly) is ‘tortious interference’. This is not a legal article, you can Google those terms yourself or read our previous article to understand what that means.
Instagress obviously had the partial phrase ‘Insta’ in their name, so at the time we half believed that IP infringement may be one of the primary reasons Instagress was shut down, but after today’s Massplanner closure we’d almost put our money on the tortious interference argument as the primary reason for the closure.
As we were writing this article, we noticed one of our top recommendations from last month’s article has also closed. Instaplus.io was another solid Instagram automation tool that was widely used. Facebook’s legal team are on fire.
“We are sorry, but at the request of Instagram we have been forced to close our service.”
Many account holders may have noticed drops in their account’s engagement earlier this February. That was the result of further improvements to the Instagram algorithm which are increasing in frequency. You may have also noticed changes to the speed of each post’s reach, especially static images as well as changes to a more realistic video view metric.
All of these anti-spam efforts are rolled out to help improve the quality of content on the platform, reduce Instagrams’s server costs and ultimately improve the user experience for everyone involved.
You need to realise, that Facebook are doubling down on efforts to improve the user experience on Instagram to help nullify Snapchat’s growth. If you saw what happened to SNAP’s stock price yesterday, we’d have to argue that Instagram’s rolling out of new features and other improvements to UX have definitely worked. This is one of the reasons for the recent spate of improvements but not the sole reason. Similar to Google, any tech company’s products will be vulnerable to exploitation by ‘spammers’. Just like in the old days of SEO, Google was very good at observing spammers who could successfully manipulate search results in their favour and update their algorithm to nullify those methods from working.
Instagram has been child’s play for spammers for a long time and it seems Facebook are placing continuing emphasis on eliminating vulnerabilities for account holders to make quick gains. After all, they want you to pay for the privilege or do it naturally.
If you’re looking for a replacement to Mass Planner I’ve listed below some alternatives you might want to consider.
It’s important to note that while they all vary in terms of their features and usability, it’s critical that you know what you’re doing before going down this road. Probably best to use our advisory services or someone who specialises in social media marketing to avoid problems.
Also, we would advise that it is likely, only a matter of time before the next one is shut down so avoid making any large investments in these platforms.
Social Hawk https://socialhawk.co/ – CLOSED
Follow Liker http://www.followliker.com
Archie https://www.archie.co/ – CLOSED – Archie has been shut down recently around June 10
Growth Machina http://www.growthmachina.com
Sound Juice https://soundjuice.co/
Fan Harvest http://fanharvest.com – CLOSED
No Worries bot https://noworriesbot.com/ – CLOSED
Follow Social http://en.follow.social/ – CLOSED
Following Like http://www.followinglike.com/
Apart from the obvious course of action which would be to trial alternative bot products for account growth, we suspect the more convential, organic ways to grow your account will only further rise in popularity.
Possibly the most overused phrase in digital marketing but, curating and posting great content that users naturally respond to should form the rock of any social media strategy.
Aim to post 2-6 times per day for the best results and alternate between your own content and other people’s content.
The fastest way to grow your account is by leveraging the popularity of other accounts. There of course are paid Influencer Marketing marketplaces/platforms like Ninja, Mustr, Hypetap etc, but approaching accounts directly will always remain the best value and most effective option if you have the nous to identify quality accounts.
These anti spam measures are specifically intended at providing more incentive for business account holders to use the native paid advertising service instead. This of course, generates more revenue for parent company, Facebook who didn’t pay billions of dollars to acquire Instagram, only for their users to take advantage of low cost growth options.
These are groups where you join another bunch of account holders and all coordinate your efforts at promoting eachother’s accounts.
If you are serious about growth-focused digital marketing minus the empty promises then you know what to do.
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