Friday, June 09, 2017

How Bots Are Inflating Instagram Egos

As the digital marketing landscape evolves, and new advertising channels emerge, new methods and approaches quickly follow. Unfortunately for consumers and platform owners, some marketers quickly realize how the new channels or systems can be gamed to achieve their goals. Companies like Google and Yahoo have been battling users gaming the system for years, with varying degrees of success, and recently focus at Facebook has again shifted to combatting illicit marketing methods on Instagram.

The article outlines many of the methods and ways in which marketers are gaming Instagram to boost likes and increase users “influence.” With Instagram influencer marketing spend estimated at $570MM last year, Facebook is scrambling to address the issue and maintain the organic nature of the platform and its users posts. The real issue is not with manufactured or fake accounts, which Facebook has been able to address with some success (“Instagram Rapture” in 2014 saw the deletion of millions of accounts), but is more to do with “inauthentic use.” What has been pervasive is the “…automation services, which log into customers’ accounts directly and run at speeds that evade detection,” and “…mimic what people do to build their accounts, at prices cheaper than paid ads.” 

If not addressed, these inauthentic users could become a real problem for Facebook as these methods are “…fueling a disconnect from real human effort and interest on Instagram, even cheapening the platform.” The cheapening of the platform should be Facebook’s biggest concern, as maintaining and growing the Instagram user base is key to its business success.

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