TLDR: The updated version of Likestagram is far better and much safer for brands to use. You must use it in conjunction with a strong Instagram content game!
Back in 2015 I wrote this review of Likestagram and in it I gave my opinion on if it was possible to “game” Instagram using their service. The summary was that I felt it would work well for bloggers and maybe start-up brands but was too risky for brands to use because of the negative issues I outline further on on this review. Go read the full review for my wider thoughts.
For those who don’t know what Likestagram is, here is a super quick snapshot (in my own words). It helps you to speed up the growth of your Instagram followers by automatically liking other Instagram users pictures based on the keywords that they tag on their image.
For instance, if you had set up your account and said that you wanted it to “like” any picture that was tagged with the word “#Fitness”, it would do so. You sign up for an account, submit your Instagram credentials, enter the keywords that you want to give likes to, enter the countries where the people who post the picture must come from and hey presto, you are set.
New Likestagram Functionality
Anyway, the review obviously ruffled some feathers over at Likestagram as, pretty soon after the post started ranking in Google, I found the account I had set up for the purpose of the test was suspended/no longer active. I guessed that was up to them and, given it was a throw away account, I moved on with life and set about trying to game another social channel, Snapchat.
About two months later I got an email from someone at Likestagram letting me know that they had listened to my feedback and that my account was now re-activated and I had been given a load of free credits. Jackpot! I went back and revisited the service.
This time I not only used the fitness account that I had set up for the original test but also a colleagues diet related account (I will keep them anonymous in this blog).
So, I dived over and got going. If you remember my original review of Likestagram, the main issue that I felt could cause a big problem for brands was that there was no way to stop a like happening on a user picture that was tagged with your keyword that was rude or inappropriate. For example, the cheeky adult-industry accounts know every trick in the book when it comes to getting eyes on their images. They would often tag a rude image with a really popular, non-related, hashtag, e.g. #Fitness, knowing that people searching on this keyword will have their rude image appear.
This also meant that if you were using Likestagram to give likes to people who used the hashtag Fitness, you could also be giving likes to adult material. I found this out the hard way when I started getting grief at the gym I go to because it looked like I was “liking” some really odd images and videos. The less said about that the better.
Anyway, Likestagram has nailed this now. They have added a tool whereby you can “negative” certain phrases and words, very similar to how you do this with Google Adwords. You can notwsay, for instance, that you don’t want to give a like to any posts where hashtags or words like “Porn”, “Adult”, “Lesbian” etc are used.
This one move alone is brilliant and makes it much safer for brands to use the service.
The other great move by the company is that the interface that you use to set up all you account is really, and I mean, really really, slick. There have clearly been a few updates to the dashboard system that make it a dream to use.
All in all, the rest of the system is working the same as my previous review but the addition of the negative like aspect has really taken Likestagram to the next level.
The service falls over a fair bit. By this I mean that it goes down lots BUT, I am not sure that this is their fault. I imagine that Instagram are quite keen for people to not use this kind of service and do all that they can to disrupt it with various tech changes.
I should also add that Likestagram is very good at communicating the various fixes that are going on, usually via Twitter, so they are doing things well on that front.
The secondary issue is that you cannot just set up an Instagram account and then fire it into Likestagram, it will quickly get nuked and zapped. We tried a few tests with brand new accounts and in both instances the Instagram accounts were suspended within hours of them being put into Likestagram. Kudos to Instagram for its anti-gaming system working so well.
Our tests show us that you are best to set up an account and run it well for a few months, building up an organic audience, before then using Likestagram.
Does it build an engaged audience?
We have to have the discussion about the type of following that is built using this service and being really honest, I was very sceptical about how engaged the audience would be given I had gamed the system. Once again, I need not have worried.
Here are the results for both accounts, from he 4-month testing period that I used, displayed in glorious Gif format!
As you can see from the above to gif’s, the results speak for themselves. “All the arrows point up” as Chandler would say. Likestagram has really grown the two test accounts on every level; followers, average likes and average comments.
Due to the fact that, during the test period, I was only giving likes to a really niche demographic (around boxing in my test case and around slimming in the anonymous test account), you only get followers who are interested in that niche as well. This means the audience is really engaged due to the common interest and, especially with the Fitness related account, I could see that I was getting an immediate and steady number of likes every time that I put a new image up.
The first bunch of likes are, of course, Likestagram-bot-esque likes (as everyone gets when they use popular hashtags), but then the follow up ones are real people… SCARY!
The key thing to remember is that, even though you are trying to game Instagram, you need to keep to the key principles of using the platform: Make your images as professional and high resolution as possible, post fairly frequently, reply to comments and positivity and generally, put the effort in! Likestagram can only do so much, you can’t just turn it on and sit back, you need to work together!
Likestagram has made itself attractive to brands wanting to speed up their Instagram growth by adding the functionality that stops a like being given to rude or dodgy images or videos. The interface is slick, the built audience is clearly engaged and the communications around issues are good.
On a final note, the other consequence of writing my original review is that I have had a plethora of similar services get in touch to ask me review their own tools. I will be working my way through these in 2017.
Happy Social Media Gaming Everyone!