Thursday, September 23Digital Marketing Journals

How to Automate Instagram the Right Way: The State of Instagram Automation 2021

The proliferation of spambots and illegitimate “growth” apps combined with strict policies and consequences have made Instagram automation a tough nut to crack. 

However, it’s time for digital marketers to destigmatize Instagram automation. With new and effective organic growth tools that are 100% approved by Instagram, you can say toodles to Insta taboos and start leveraging Instagram automation.

As the founder of an organic social media marketing agency, I am always looking out for new and legitimate organic growth tools, almost non-existent on Instagram. This is pretty crazy to think about, considering it’s one of the most popular social media platforms.


Most digital marketers have thought about experimenting with the legacy Instagram automation tools out there. Auto-reply to comments, increase engagement, and passively grow your followers. What’s not to love? 

Then, the Google searching begins, and you quickly realize the risks outweigh the benefits. 

Alas, Instagram has gotten so tough on automation tools and bots that it begs the question, “is Instagram automation dead?” 

No! It’s alive and well, maybe for the first time. 

The planets aligned, and the Insta elite decided to merge APIs with Messenger, creating… a frankenapp! Just kidding. But in all seriousness, now more than ever, Instagram is a freaking awesome app. 

This new API release, circa Oct. 2020, opened the doors for a new set of 100% approved Instagram automation tools. 


Grow Instagram followers and engagement with new tools for influencers, artists, brands and D2C businesses. Sign up to be the first to use tools that generate elite engagement via Instagram DMs.

Why Automate Instagram? 

There are a few use cases for Instagram automation that every business, brand, and influencer can benefit from utilizing in 2021. 

Does this mean you have to experiment with a bunch of different tools again? Nope, so far, there is just one tool with Instagram’s blessing in 2021: InstaChamp by MobileMonkey. We’ll dig into InstaChamp later, but first, let’s take a deep dive into the state of Instagram Automation in 2021. 

The State of Instagram Automation in 2021


We have experimented with all of the various Instagram automation tools out there. But in the end, we always fell back on manual organic strategies. Why is that? 

For starters, most Instagram automation tools aren’t worth your time or money. Plus, they’ll get you flagged or banned faster than you can say “Instagress.” 

Of course, there have been many well-intended apps and total turn and burn garbage apps for Instagram automation since the platform launched in 2010. 

Thankfully, things have changed in 2021! 🎉

Nothing has even touched on the level of our new favorite Instagram automation tool (and Neil Patel’s favorite, too!). InstaChamp has streamlined our internal workflows, launched our clients’ engagement rates into orbit, and improved Customers’ Experience (CX) on Instagram.

Instagram’s Official Guidelines for Automating Instagram

Back to the question of the day, week, and year… is it safe to use Instagram automation tools in 2021? The short answer: YES, with InstaChamp. Anything else, it depends. 

Before I get to the long answer, let’s first define what Instagram automation is, at least for this report. There are essentially two different forms of automation out there for Instagram, and both are provided by third-party software: 

  • Front-end Instagram Automation: These Instagram automation services primarily function on the front-facing or public-facing side of tasks, i.e.: DMs, commenting, and likes. 
  • Back-end Instagram Automation: The Instagram automation services which focus on scheduling posts, analytics, and anything else behind the scenes. 

For this report, we are mostly referencing front-end Instagram automation. Which, makes perfect sense. Of course you’d want to automate these tedious tasks, but Instagram is trying to reduce the bad actors mucking things up for everyone. 

You know them, the Instagram follower bots and Instagram comment bots that follow/unfollow, post the same comment on hundreds of posts.  These methods may have worked when they were new and still under the radar, but now it’s a disingenuous practice that both Instagram users and Instagram itself do not appreciate or reward.. 

These quick-and-dirty tactics had their ‘day in the sun’, but that day is over. Good riddance! 🥾 The best Instagram marketers have long since moved onto bigger and better ways to automate Instagram.e. 

As Instagram continues to fight the good fight against spammy bots and people trying to cheat their algorithm, there is a framework for legitimate automation software for Instagram to save time and boost engagement. 

Additionally, Instagram has stated that certain activities on the platform are deemed as either authentic or inauthentic activity. 

Is Instagram Automation Authentic or Inauthentic Activity?

According to Instagram, “Third-party apps that generate inauthentic likes, follows and comments violate our Community Guidelines and Terms of Use.” 

So, according to the Community Guidelines, let’s take a closer look at what is considered authentic or inauthentic Instagram automation activities. 

Fake Likes, Followers, Shares

These are too obvious. You see an account with a large following and no posts or profile. 💥Fake! Or perhaps every post garners very few likes and comments. It doesn’t make sense. Your audience knows it, Instagram knows it, we all know it. 🛑

Anytime you pay money in exchange for likes, followers, or shares — it’s fake, and it’s a violation. 

Most important, however, is the strategy doesn’t work… even if you get away with it! 

Think about it, even if you gained thousands of new (likely fake) followers, if you have no engagement on your own content, your posts will get no reach on Instagram. 

Engagement is the number one way to grow your presence on Instagram. Engagement is earned, there’s no way around it. So, you need to focus on strategies and tools that can increase organic engagement on Instagram, as opposed to strategies that imitate engagement.

Rapid Activity or Doing Anything at High Frequencies

I just like to go fast, ok? 

Whenever you post, share, or engage in any way on Instagram at a fast rate, you risk being flagged for spam. 

Unfortunately, many Instagram automation tools have only this to offer: rapid likes, follows/unfollows, and other actions that, no matter how intelligently “timed” they are… you’re going to get busted.

Again, there’s no cheating Instagram. At least, not anymore. However, there are tools to increase organic engagement via Instagram automation, which we will cover shortly.

Tricking Users Into Engaging

This one is a little more sophisticated but equally shady and bound to get your accounts booted from Instagram for good. 

For example, don’t make fake buttons in your graphics and tell people to click them for any reason.

Imagine a fake “play” button on a graphic, and you click, and no video plays. Or you are now being directed to a website off Instagram. But, of course, nobody likes a bait and switch scheme, including Instagram. 

Just Be Yourself and Don’t Impersonate 

Avoid riding on the coattails of someone else’s successful following and community by using misspellings of their name for your account. Don’t play games and try impersonating someone else. 

Avoid Instagram Pods or Engagement Groups

In theory, it makes sense to join together and manipulate the algorithm to each other’s benefit. But Instagram disagrees and is respectfully committed to keeping the platform authentic and genuine. 

Therefore, don’t fall for the allure of “Instagram engagement groups” or “Instagram pods,” as it goes against Instagram’s policies and is considered inauthentic activity. 

All you would get from one of these “pods” is a larger follower count, but the lack of engagement from those new followers will set the alarm bells off as fake. 

The Unofficial Guidelines and the Mystery of the Shadowban

There have been many reports of Instagram users experiencing a sudden drop-off in engagement through the years, with no explanation. Enter the “shadowban.” 

Instagram doesn’t officially acknowledge any sort of “shadowban,” which is entirely speculative, but do you expect them to tell us everything? 

So, what the heck is a shadowban? It is when your Instagram account is deprioritized. In other words, your posts stop showing up in the feed.

This is every social media marketer’s worst nightmare. No matter how engaging your content is, nothing is happening! Yes, you’ve been “shadowbanned”… no more hashtag discoveries or any action — your posts are restricted or hidden without any notice. 😳

Here is the official language from Instagram: 

As you can see, Instagram doesn’t say “shadowban,” and they probably never will; it’s a fabricated industry term or buzzword. But, they state that they have certain measures that will reduce an account’s reach and quickly put a damper on gaining new followers. 

Considering Instagram has close to 100 million photos and videos shared every day, you can imagine they are utilizing automation to detect this stuff. It’s not going to be on a case-by-case basis.

You don’t have to risk it. There is now a 100% Instagram-approved automation tool available, InstaChamp, developed in partnership with Instagram devs and adhering to every minute Instagram automation guidelines. InstaChamp by MobileMonkey is the Official Instagram DM Automation Solutions Partner.

A Brief History of Instagram Automation Tools to Date

In the wake of Instagram’s crusade to end spambots and unscrupulous “growth hackers” once and for all — we are left with the few and proud authentic tools we have today. 

This walk down Instagram automation memory lane is for educational purposes only and is not a list of authentic or Instagram-approved third-party tools. 

The easiest way to know if your chosen Instagram automation tool is legit and considered “authentic activity” is to see if the company or app has been blessed with the rare Instagram endorsement. 💎

“We are thrilled that MobileMonkey is launching InstaChamp messaging tools for Instagram. The Messenger API for Instagram will enable all businesses to connect with customers on their preferred messaging channel while integrating existing tools and data to drive business outcomes. By integrating the Messenger API for Instagram, businesses and developers can effectively scale messaging workflows to better own the customer experience and build more authentic relationships.” – Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, VP of Platform Partnerships at Messenger.

So, there’s that ☝️. But more on how InstaChamp is different after a brief Instagram automation history lesson.

  • Oct. 6, 2010 – Instagram App Launched in iTunes.
  • New features continuously roll out, such as hashtags, filters, hi-res photos, etc.
  • Dec. 2010 – Instagram reaches 1 million users.
  • Instagram named Apple’s “App of the Year” for 2011.
  • Sept. 2011 – Instagram reaches 10 million users.
  • April 2012 – Instagram available for Android devices and Facebook acquires Instagram.
  • Dec. 2013 – Instagram Direct is introduced.
  • Dec. 2016 – Instagram reaches 600 million users.
  • 2016 – Instagram releases the Stories feature.
  • 2017 – Instagram issues a cease and desist with large Instagram automation companies, such as Massplanner and Instagress.
  • 2017-2019 – Instagram automation tools that are widely used are continually shut down. 
  • 2019 – Instagram indirectly acknowledges the unofficial shadowban, specifically calling out explicit content: 

“We’ve started to use machine learning to determine if the actual media posted is eligible to be recommended to our community.”

Will Ruben, Instagram Product Lead for Discovery.

  • 2019 – A tougher stance on Instagram automation begins and the ongoing effort to shut down all major Instagram automation tools continues.
  • 2020 – Facebook and Instagram adjust their APIs to merge Messenger with Instagram DMs.
  • Oct. 2020 – MobileMonkey becomes the first officially endorsed and approved automation software for Instagram.
  • June 2, 2021 – InstaChamp by MobileMonkey is released for accounts with 10K to 100K followers.
  • July 2021 – InstaChamp made available to accounts with 10K to 1K followers.
  • Aug. 2021 – InstaChamp available to the general public. 🎉

It’s a new era for Instagram automation in 2021, and who better to carry the torch and trailblaze the Insta jungle than the OG Unicorn Marketer, Larry Kim? 🦄

Enhance your Instagram, don’t “fake it.” 

The old bots are liabilities and are old news. But, of course, you still have to make great content; that’s what makes Instagram special. If you are posting garbage content that nobody cares about – no amount of Instagram automation will help. 

Essentially, all InstaChamp is doing, besides offering an outstanding UX and significant improvement to the DM inbox, is replying to people. Interacting and engaging on your behalf with the people who are contacting you. 

Suppose you have a large following or manage marketing campaigns for a major brand. In that case, you know how time-consuming and difficult manually responding can be and how critical it is to cultivate a following and community. 

Now, there are some brilliant Instagram growth hacks to turn this into an insanely effective growth tool. For example, by simply encouraging your followers to comment, you set off a chain of events that quadruples your engagement rates and gives your brand increased visibility and favor of the Instagram algorithm.

In fact, our new Instagram automation tools have increased users’ post reach by 2-3x on average! It’s like boosting a post on Instagram for free. 

Let’s get to the good stuff! 

What is the Safest Instagram Automation or “Bot” to Use? 

Well, we will tread lightly here as the term “bot” is loaded with preconceived notions that relate to spam and unethical activities. InstaChamp isn’t a “bot” in the traditional sense of the word on Instagram.

What InstaChamp does do:

  • Automatically replies to comments on your posts with custom and conversational DM reply.
  • Automatically DMs users who comment a specific keyword or “trigger” word on your posts. 
  • Auto-replies to incoming DMs with custom and conversational replies. 
  • Auto-reply with a DM to Instagram Story mentions.
  • Create a “Welcome Message” for users who DM you for the first time. 
  • A more robust and user-friendly DM inbox that makes managing large volumes of DMs simple and organized. 
  • Add multiple users to manage a single Instagram account. 

What InstaChamp doesn’t do:

  • Automatically follow/unfollow users.
  • Automate liking and commenting on other user’s posts.
  • Auto-commenting on your own post’s comment thread. 
  • Repetitively respond to user’s comments or DMs.
  • Automatically initiate DMs.

So, how is InstaChamp any different from the “old bots”? 

Did you catch the part about how InstaChamp only auto-REPLIES to comments and DMs? 

The key to authentic and compliant Instagram automation is never to automatically initiate any engagement or interaction.

Play the Engagement Algorithm Game to Win with Instagram Automation

There are a few different ways to game the Insta algo. Mainly, you need to find a way to boost your authentic engagement rates. 

75% of consumers prefer to engage with brands via private messaging channels vs. traditional channels. With these Instagram statistics, the importance of replying to every DM is evident.

Even if you prefer to maintain your clunky manual workflow, if you’re running an agency or have a large following, it probably involves multiple VAs handling your Instagram accounts. At the very least, InstaChamp can give you the option to add multiple users. 

Imagine no more VAs tripping over each other with a single login and the ability to assign and organize your Instagram DMs, comment moderation, and more. 


Why not cut out the middle man? Shift your VAs to more important work, and leave the tedium of replying to comments, mentions, and DMs to Instagram automation.

Are you still wondering how to send automated DMs on Instagram? It’s easy! Check out these examples below. 

Examples of Authentic and Safe Instagram Automation Using InstaChamp, with 100% Insta-Approval

Instagram loves engagement, which is easy to increase X10 with Instagram automation tools.

Instagram Comment Auto-Responders via Direct Messages

InstaChamp’s comment auto-responder is not like the rest because it only sends private DMs in response to comments requesting it. Plus, there is an entire conversational dialogue intelligently programmed into every DM interaction. 

By encouraging your followers to comment with a trigger word, like “BOOST” in the example below, you get more comments that are instantly followed by more DMs (because InstaChamp auto-DMs them). That’s a big spike to every post’s engagement and all within Instagram’s Official Guidelines. 

Instagram Story Mentions Auto-Responder

Instagram Stories have taken off as the most engaging area on the platform. 

Digital agencies report up to 2-3X more engagement using Instagram Stories versus other post types of social media content. 🤯

You also benefit from the additional prime real estate by being featured at the top of your follower’s newsfeeds in the Story Highlights section. 


Almost all digital marketing reports for 2021 point to the same conclusion: social media users want more authentic connections. Instagram Stories is the best place to do this. 

Consider that it’s almost an entirely mobile platform, 50% of global web traffic in 2021 is mobile, plus 98% of active Facebook users are on mobile. Instagram Stories is clearly a good place for brand awareness and customer engagement.

How does InstaChamp’s Story Mention auto-responder work? 

It’s simple, someone mentions or tags you in their Instagram Story, and InstaChamp automatically sends them a DM “thank you” note. Not only is it appreciated, but it increases your engagement in the Insta Algo-sphere. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Neil Patel explains it in 5 minutes in the video below. 

If that wasn’t sweet enough, you could add a direct link in your DM auto-responder’s conversational dialogue. 

Over 55% of marketers don’t even know how to add a link to Instagram Stories or anywhere beyond their bios. So this new link opportunity is an effective way to drive traffic to your landing pages and websites. Now, businesses can increase sales and track conversions from Instagram to their Ecommerce sites and more. 

If you want to test the Instagram Story automation feature out for yourself, tag @mobilemonkey or @kim_larry on one of your Stories and watch the magic happen! ✨

Auto-Reply to DMs with Instagram Automation

Very similar to how the InstaChamp comment auto-responder works, the DM auto-responder will automatically reply to incoming DMs with conversational dialogue. 


This is also really easy to see in action. Just send @mobilemonkey or @kim_larry a DM message of any kind to engage with InstaChamp. 

As you can see in the example above, you can include a link to drive traffic wherever you’d like. You can also add multiple options and clickable buttons to form a DM inbox funnel.

After the auto-replying to mass amounts of DMs, the best part, in my personal opinion, is the new DM inbox that InstaChamp offers. It is so well organized and streamlined for marketing purposes that Instagram’s native DM inbox will feel like a dinosaur of a legacy app. I have no idea why Instagram never improved on this but cheers to MobileMonkey for filling those innovative shoes. 🥂


You can manage all of your Instagram DMs and other messaging apps from one dashboard. Sort, assign and build a contacts list for remarketing campaigns and retargeting. 

Wait, assign? Yes! Add multiple users to Instagram DM inbox and assign them to handle many tasks such as personally following up or answering questions. 

You can filter conversations by: Follow Up, Pending, and Resolved. 

Getting Started with Instagram Automation for the First and Last Time

If spammy Instagram automation tools have burned you in the past, then rest easy knowing you are embarking on a smooth sailing automated Instagram experience with the official Instagram DM Solutions Partner. 

No more limits and warnings, no more annoyed followers and customers, and no more banned or deleted accounts. 🌈

If you’ve never stepped out into the murky waters of Instagram automation’s past, consider yourself lucky for waiting until now. 

There are endless possibilities and use cases for the first official Instagram automation tool. Discover the best tool for leveraging social media marketing. A sleeping giant is waiting in your Instagram DMs and comments. Don’t be the last influencer or brand to wake it up!


Grow Instagram followers and engagement with new tools for influencers, artists, brands and D2C businesses. Sign up to be the first to use tools that generate elite engagement via Instagram DMs.

Important Next Steps

  • Create your first chatbot today after you sign-up for MobileMonkey.
  • Talk and learn about chatbots with other enthusiasts. Join MobileMonkey Island, our Facebook group of 40K marketers and entrepreneurs who are ready to support you.
  • Advance your marketing performance with Chatbot University, a free chatbot tutorial and training area for chat marketers.

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