This semester, school has taken up a lot of my free time, but that hasn’t stopped me from working on a few of my personal projects. One of these projects has reached the “public reveal” milestone.
Instagram is a giant rat race for attention and likes. You are expected to “naturally” grow your account from zero followers to blind success through quality content that your friends share in order for you to gain exposure. Your growing account metrics land you on the “explore” page, and from there, you now have access to plenty of more potential users who would be interested in your content.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time trying to build a following on Instagram knows that this method absolutely DOES NOT work. Especially in the early stages. In order for you to gain a decent amount of traction, you have to first put your account in front of the eyes of viewers. There is no way to do that when you are starting from scratch.
[Enter Stage right: Botting]
Most people who are highly active on Instagram have experienced (poorly designed) bots interacting with their profile. Some people block them, others are happy to have a follow on their account, real or not. The premise of the current Instagram Bot paradigm is simple: turn a user’s home screen notifications into a billboard for your Instagram Brand™. When you follow someone on Instagram, they get a notification with your username right in the middle of whatever they are doing, exactly like a pop-up ad. Genius. But most of these bots have a major failing. Their blind scatter shot tactic wastes their rate-limited follow allowances on users who are unlikely to follow back. Instagram only lets you follow a certain number of people per day at a certain allowed interval before it flags you as a bot. It is essential that you do not waste this precious resource.
I decided to treat these follows like the advertisements they are. I consider follow-backs from my advertising the equivalent to CTR or “click through rate”. Now that I am designing a bot with this metric in mind, I have to consider how it is I am to maximize account CTR. I can do several things such as identify bot accounts and not waste follows on them, follow users who follow related accounts to mine, follow users who do not follow the max account limit, etc. As far as I can tell, no other Instagram Bot on the market currently does this. I have started with a botnet of around 8 Instagram scrapers, continuously gathering information around the clock. I hope to have enough data at some point to build an ML classifier that will further assist me in picking likely candidates with high click through probability. In the meantime, you can check out the GitHub repo yourself, set up the project, connect to a free mongoDB cluster, initialize your botnet accounts, and get to farming for your main Instagram account.