There’s gonna be a bubble burst! That’s right, we’re fast approaching the point where the upper echelon of Instagram influencers and other influencers lose their power. And I’ll tell you: it’s being a sped along with the invention of story viewing bots.
Instagram Story-viewing Bots Can, For $$, Mislead Others Into Believing You Watched Their Stories
Influencers You Admire Are Already Using These Tools
The introduction of these tools to the marketplace means that your entrepreneurial hero didn’t actually watch your Instagram story; they paid a program or tool to go ahead and view your story for them so that they don’t have to waste their time. The early result of these tools: You are all excited and you are sharing your entrepreneurial hero or favorite online influencer and thanking them publicly for watching your story (which, again, they didn’t do).
Today, I’m Going to Share…
I want to talk about this bubble burst, and why the use of tools like this is a problem, and give you a couple of really important critical thinking tools for you when you’re deciding how to use automation in social media for your business. Social media is, I’m sure, part of your strategy for getting your programs and products out into the world, reaching more people, helping more people, making money, and all of that goodness. So I really want you to avoid the trap that these influencers are getting themselves into.
The Great Things Automation Does For Online Business…
There’s a lot of great ways that automation can help your business. It’s wonderful when you use automation to respond to a message to say that someone from your team will get back to them. And automation is great to deliver the actual informational products and services that you’re providing at scale. So if you’re selling a workshop, you’re selling an e-book, you’re selling any kind of digital product where you’re not actually coaching a person one-to-one or working with them one-to-one, then automation is fantastic because it takes you out of the equation. They pay and they automatically get the thing they paid for. It’s amazing, right?!
Automation is wonderful in online business. It’s one of the reasons why online business is so great and such a profit maker. But when you’re using automation in social media, you need to be incredibly careful.
Mark These Words: FALLOUT From These Bots Will Be Big
I’ve already told you that there’s going to be a bubble burst and I’m serious about this. I really believe there’s gonna be a bubble burst. There’s gonna be fallout—major fallout—because now there are Instagram story viewing bots, and influencers—your entrepreneurial heroes, big people with big audiences—are using this tool now. The cumulative effect will be an erosion of the trust they’ve spent years and put in lots of effort to cultivate with their audience.
Most Instagram Users Don’t Know This (Yet). When They Do… Man, Oh, Man!
It’s not visible or palpable yet, this death of the trust that many of us have instilled in major influencers because most people don’t yet know that this specific form of automation tool exists. They don’t know yet that their hero didn’t actually watch their Instagram story. They’re floating through life happy and excited because so-and-so watches their story every day when they don’t. As soon as people start to catch on, the trust will be eroded. And these influencers will have to put in incredible amounts of effort to recover.
This Was to Be Expected, and Still!
This type of tool, the Instagram Story-viewing bot, is just the latest in a line of automation tools that have changed how we use social media. Instagram users have employed bots for years to like posts (their own, and other peoples’), to comment on posts (ever seen a “Love your profile, please check out my page” comment on one of your posts? The odds are 299:1 that it’s a comment posted by a bot), and to follow other people. Hashtags have been a great way to get your content discovered organically, but they’re also a great way for these bots to find you. So this form of automation isn’t new; these other functions have been carried out by bots for years.
Now that Instagram Stories are such an integral part of the platform—notice they’re the first thing you see when you open the app—it was a matter of time before developers cashed in by creating bots to watch stories for you.
Here’s What Will Follow in Automation for Instagram
And the next evolution? (I’m talking two or three steps from where we’re at now.) There will be bots that automatically engage on Instagram stickers, emoji sliders, polls, and question stickers.
How Problematic The Story-viewing Bots Are…
While Instagram Story-viewing bots are a natural evolution of this whole automation phenomenon, it’s a really problematic evolution. Not sure how you feel about it, but my Instagram Stories feel incredibly intimate and they’ve been a place where I’ve gotten vulnerable in ways I might not on my Instagram feed. So the Instagram user probably feels even more attached and connected to the Instagram stories that they’re posting because they’re a form of you vlogging. When the average Instagram user, who was super excited that their mentor/influence/hero seemed to be watching their Stories, finds out it’s a lie? The feelings of let-down will be strong. And thus, the trust will be eroded.
Influencers are Piling on the Lies with Their Audiences
And influencers early to adopt these bots are living with a lie. Those early to adopt the use of these bots are collecting the public shoutouts they’re getting from people and posting them to their own Instagram Stories. They’re adding commentary that reads, “So excited to do this,” and “You’re so welcome,” and such.
If the influencer is sharing things to their own story falsely propagating this idea that they’re actually sitting there watching the stories when they’re not, they are lying to their audience.
It’s Pathetic I Even Have to Say This Next Thing!
You should never lie to your audience.
So Here’s What I Need to Do for You with This Post…
I want you to know this technology exists. I want you to realize that the number of Instagram Story views doesn’t mean anything anymore. Beyond that, I really want you to take some tools with you that will serve you however technology evolves. Let’s dive into those tools…
YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELF THESE TWO QUESTIONS WHEN CONSIDERING AN AUTOMATION TOOL
Those tools include two questions you answer if you’re ever considering adding automation into your business. I want you to ask yourself these two questions.
Question #1: Does using this tool require me to lie to my audience?
Maybe the Instagram Story-viewing bought doesn’t require you to lie to your audience because you could be honest. A user of such a tool could tell another, “Actually, I used a bot to watch your story. But you know I’m watching it now, and I see X Y Z, and that’s really cool.”
There are ways of sharing the truth that you’re using such a tool. Of course, in a moment of honesty, the receiver of the news may still feel disappointment. But it’s not as bad as your pretending you’ve actually watched all those stories when you haven’t.
That’s just one consideration when you’re in the decision to automate: Does this require me to lie to my audience?
Question #2: Does my using this tool have the effect of me lying to my audience?
The second question is very similar to the first, but it is different. Again you don’t you could use a bot to watch somebody Stories and not lie about it. But your refusal to directly admit this has the effect of you lying to your audience.
So those are two questions that you can ask yourself about any automation tool you’re considering, and…
I also really want you to get this next point. Automation should be used for only two purposes.
Use Automation For THIS…
The two purposes for which it should be used:
- To broaden your audience and widen your reach.
- To deliver an excellent customer service experience.
Use automation to appeal to more people. I don’t like the bots that follow my Instagram account automatically. Still, I do generally understand that the bot’s function is to broaden the user’s reach. They’re trying to reach me. And in a sense, I can be flattered, right?
Then I can check out their profile if it looks interesting, or disregard and that’s fine too. So you can use automation to broaden your reach.
That could additionally mean using automation to schedule content. There will be times when you’re asleep that half the world isn’t! Using automation to reach those people while you’re asleep by simply posting your value-giving content is smart!
Use automation to post your valuable and value-giving content to the world at the times when you’re not able to actively do it yourself so the content can reach people that you wouldn’t otherwise.
The second appropriate use of automation: To deliver an excellent customer service experience. This means using tools to deliver the goods you’ve sold and aid in customer-to-company/company-to-customer communication.
Go forth and use automation for those two things.
…DON’T Use Automation For THIS
Absolutely do everything you can to avoid relying upon automation for this purpose: To make clients, customers, and fans feel like they have a relationship with you that they don’t.
Allow me to explain: Sons of Anarchy actor Charlie Hunnam is one of my favorite actors. He’s the subject of some Prince Charming-type fantasies. But no matter how vivid my dreams of him are, my relationship with him is one-sided. Charlie Hunnam does not know I exist. Because I am mentally healthy I realize this. And I would never think he knows me. I wouldn’t confuse the one-sided relationship with him as a “real” relationship.
Charlie Hunnam creates an Instagram account (he hasn’t been on social media). He’s got a movie coming out soon. So someone tells him he should employ an automation tool to make fans feel like he’s watching their Instagram stories. This way, they reason, “Your fans will feel more connected to you. They’ll buy tickets…”
And so suddenly, my Instagram Story views list has the name of one of my favorite actors. Cue my internal freakout: “CHARLIE FREAKING HUNNAM IS WATCHING MY STORIES! HE SAW MY FACE! OMGOMGOMG!!!” And suddenly, I feel like I have a “real” relationship with Charlie.
I imagine that he might actually respond to my stories. That he might break up with his girlfriend, and make plans to meet me in Philadelphia. (Thanks for bearing with me for this very extreme example.)
But because my one-sided relationship with him now only APPEARS to be two-sided, nothing’s changed. (Even though I think it did.) And maybe I buy a ticket to the new movie…
When I attend the movie showing, others in the audience talk about how Charlie Hunnam watched their Instagram Stories. That’s when I realize that what I knew was improbable was actually a lie.
My dream man LIED to me! And it makes me feel badly. And now, even if I sit through two hours of the movie, I’m staring at his handsome face and I’m angry. I feel betrayed.
Can you see how this would DAMAGE your relationships with your audience if you use automation to falsely deepen their relationships to you?
Let Me Be Clear
To use automation in a way that gives the impression to your fans that there’s been a significant change in their relationship with you is a no-no. And even if you use an automation tool to ‘nurture’ existing relationships, the nurturing shouldn’t be based on a lie.
At the time of this writing, we’re in the early stages of the existence of these bots. the people who follow these influencers who are seeing the influencer’s name pop up in their Stories and then gives him/her a public shoutout do so because they now believe they’ve received something that has been scarce for them: the attention of the influencer.
Influencers Are Cheapening Their Attention and It’s Ugly
We consider the attention of an influencer with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers to be valuable. Part of that value results from his/her inability to give attention to all followers, right? If an influencer uses automation tools to give every viewer the experience that they’ve received the attention of the influencer, the attention then becomes (even if in appearance only) commonplace. They’ve flooded the world with the appearance of their attention. And from herein, their followers will never know if they’ve actually received the influencer’s attention. As soon as enough people catch on to the existence of these tools, they will assign less value to the influencer’s attention.
And if you’re on the verge of becoming an influencer yourself, you’ll be smart to avoid the automation tools that cheapen your attention or have the effect of you lying to others.
Adapting To These Changes as an Instagram User Ready to Grow Their Business
You’ll Want to Take These Steps
Here are some other ways you’ll want to adapt to the changes I’ve described:
- If you want to deepen relationships with followers and customers, actually watch their stories with your own two eyes. Choose 5 new people per day.
- As you watch people’s stories, be sure to engage on the polls, question stickers, emoji sliders, and in any other way. Respond. (This is going to separate you at least until they invent bots that respond.)
- On the list of Instagram Story views, use the little paper airplane button (on the right side) to send messages. To whom? Those who watch your story who may be ideal customers. Ask them questions relevant to the story they supposedly watched, or in some other way engage them. (ex. “How did you find me?”) [Now, people may lie to you here, but I’m all for creating accountability. If it becomes uncomfortable for someone who uses a bot to view the stories of other people to answer questions from people holding them accountable, maybe they’ll stop the bad behavior. But I’m not saying to ever be rude to these people.]
- Be sure to use the tools Instagram gives you for upping engagement on your Stories. Use the polls, the question stickers, links if you’ve got enough followers, emoji sliders, etc.
- Find ways to reward the followers who engage with your Stories beyond simply watching them.
With Instagram stories, we’re going to have to adapt in the way that we use Instagram stories and the way that we use the metrics that we get on viewership and engagement. We’re going to have to start to use those things differently in our businesses than we have been.
Think critically about how you’ll navigate these changes, and use those two questions I’ve shared above to help you. While the introduction of these Instagram Story-viewing bots is new and can be considered a big change, it absolutely was just a matter of time. And the invention of other similar tools are just a matter of time. This is the dance we must do with social media. We have to figure out how to deal with this current evolution and there will be a new evolution to deal with soon. Of course, it’s not all bad!
My Final Message for You:
There are so many joys and pleasures and rewards in online business that it’s absolutely worth it to keep doing this work. I just want to make it easier for you which is why I’m bringing you this information.