Fashion brand mint & berry recently hit the headlines due to the brand’s use of like bots on Instagram. Like bots automatically engage with the content of thousands of Instagram users by liking their content. The ultimate goal: Driving traffic and engagement to one’s own Instagram channel.
Instagram channel @mintandberry
What is a Like Bot?
A like bot automatically likes the content of channels which fit your define criteria. The more criteria you define, the more precise can the bot target your desired audience.
Like Bots as Traffic Generators?
Why does a brand or an influencer use like bots in the first place?
Like bots are supposed to generate traffic. Initially, you can define criteria and tell the bot on which channels to focus:
Do you want to target users from Germany or international channels? Do you want to focus on channels run by women or are male channels also interesting targets? Do you want the bot to like only posts which include a certain hashtag? Additionally, the like frequency can be adjusted.
Of course, you could also like content manually, but the bots handle this task faster and save you lots of time.
Did the like bots work for mint & berry?
Currently, mint & berry has an engagement rate of 1.4%.
As described in more detail here, the Like Follower Ratio depends on several factors. Generally, this engagement rate is rather low. The channel does not seem to be able to attract engaging and active followers.
Post performance of mint & berry © InfluencerDB
During the last four weeks, the channel received 21 comments per post on average, which is rather sparse regarding the audience of almost 30,000 followers. The account has a rather high amount of low performing posts.
Regarding engagement, the use of like bots was apparently not able to drive activity to mint & berry’s Instagram channel.
Another reason for the use of like bots is attracting followers.
When analyzing the follower growth of the Instagram channel, it is noticeable that the follower growth increased since February 2017, resulting in a growth of 6.6% during the last four weeks. This amount of growth can be evaluated as a good growth rate for a channel.
It is not known when exactly mint & berry started to use like bots to increase their followership. Thus, precise derivations are hardly possible.
Consequences for mint & berry
According to Spiegel Online, the use of like bots at mint & berry was detected because the brand’s Instagram channel gave likes to inappropriate content like cigarette advertisements, which illustrates that the criteria for the like bot were not defined accurately or the bots simply did not work precisely (we elaborated on the faultiness of like bots in a previous post).
Meanwhile, the like bots were deactivated and the brand works on their social media guidelines, as Spiegel reports.
Mint & berry will probably not have to fear any consequences. The brand’s channel even gained followers after the use of like bots became public, as the daily follower changes of the last few days illustrate.
Daily follower changes of @mint & berry
For mint & berry, the like bots did not have a significant effect regarding engagement and it cannot be definitely determined whether the increase in follower growth is directly linked to the use of like bots.
An incident blown out of proportion?
Our analysis of mint & berry’s Instagram channel illustrates that the use of like bots did not have a crucial impact on the brand’s channel. Nonetheless, the brand received backlash for using like tools in the media. The reason for the strong reaction of several media platforms is probably rather the prominence of mint & berry’s parent company Zalando (even though mint & berry’s social media activities are handled independently from Zalando) than the so called “abuse” itself.
But is it even abusive behavior? Contrary to popular belief of journalists demonizing the brand for the use of like bots, these bots do not directly fall into the category of abusive strategies on Instagram. Unlike purchasing followers or buying likes and comments, which leads to faked follower numbers and faked engagement, like bots do not provide this for the brand. All they do is to help make users become aware of a brand channel if that channel engages with the user’s content, but in the end, the user is free to decide whether he or she is interested in the brand and wants to follow the channel or not.
In the end, mint & berry might not be the only brand which has used tools to increase engagement and drive traffic to a brand channel. But due to its connection to one of the biggest players in fashion e-commerce, the brand is in the spotlight and so are the brand’s social media channels. Regarding the outcome for mint & berry, our analysis highlights that for brands it is not worth the risk of causing a media turmoil.
The absent effect of the like bots for mint & berry highlights that using these tools is not helping brands to build an organic and engaged follower group. To achieve this goal, brands have to currate their content carefully, listen to the needs and wishes of their followers and build up a community which embodies the brand’s characteristics and willingly engages with its content. To strengthen the ties between brand and followers, it might be worth adding influencers into the marketing mix.