Stop looking through rose coloured filters: Instagram is all smoke and mirrors.

Brunettes Instagram selfie

Stop looking through rose coloured filters: Instagram is all smoke and mirrors.

The more I research Instagram, the more cracks I see in its authenticity! How can we tell what’s even real anymore?

As a marketer and strategist, I’m always thinking outside the box. Researching, testing, auditing, reviewing, testing. It’s what we do and how you stay ahead in an ever-changing and competitive field. I do it in all areas of my life – testing various strategies (read: opening lines) for my single friends on their Tinder profiles, or knowing which lane of traffic will move quicker. I want to know how algorithms work and how collectively people work. Why when I a/b tested a client’s image did 356 more people click the blue ad > the green ad? Why do ‘average looking brown-haired women’ perform better on social media > men, > blondes, > models?

It was a miserable 14 degrees and raining weekend in Sydney. The kind where you only get out bed for a HSP… or is that just me? So instead of Netflix and comfort food, I curled up with my Mac and started to randomly research social media trends, updates, and Facestalk (it’s called research). I Googled, “How do I verify an Instagram account?”. That little blue tick of approval is deemed to be harder to get than a Gold at the Olympics. Sure enough, there were theories and articles galore, even a wikiHow with pictures. But nothing that stacked up as concrete information for me to get my client verified. Instagram basically chooses accounts at random that are likely to have copycat accounts (large corps and celebrities).

I then found an App that trumped all other apps for #Instafamous wannabes. App give unauthentic authorised tick

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the findings when I used an Instagram bot for 24 hours on my partner’s new business account. I’d now found an App where you could apply a fake verification tick and key in how many followers you wanted to portray. I’d found the Holy Grail for any aspiring Influencers. I contacted a friend who recently started an Instagram account for her cat and within 3 minutes she was verified, had 22K followers, was following 1,000 accounts and was armed with an account where she could potentially reach out to paying clients as an Influencer.

So why is social platform growing so rapidly when you can:

  • Buy 10,000 fake followers for AUD$10;
  • Use a free bot to follow a competitors list in the hope that you acquire some genuine followers back;
  • Use a free App to mass unfollow 200+ accounts at a time;
  • Program a bot to like certain hashtag, or accounts with x amount of followers;
  • Use a free App to get verified and fake the numbers?

As someone in the industry, I see Instagram tightening their API for data mining (thanks Cambridge Analytica scandal) and reporting insights through third party sites, moves to eliminate Pods that take advantage of the engagement algorithm, blocking spam hashtags e.g. #like4like, etc. and many more changes.

While the recent Shopping for Instagram has helped businesses and marketers make something meaningful of the platform and finally generate some ROI the army of bots and fake Influencer accounts still roam free. It seems near impossible for the ever-increasing social media platform to gain street cred amongst those in the industry, while the wool is pulled over small business and (some) inexperienced marketer’s eyes.

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