DV Digital

Photos, videos, and general ramblings from myself. Content is king.

Instagram May Be Free but That Doesn't Mean Zero Quality of Service...

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A few months ago, I rambled on about the market for falsified clicks, likes, and followers. Apparently the phenomenon has made it to Instagram…

As you can see, several accounts all “liked” random photos in my feed within seconds of each other, and all the accounts had the same spam ad as their only photo. Out of curiosity I went to the URL listed in the spam, and even the spammers admit it’s all a fraud. Points for honesty I guess.

__Are the followers REAL?__

No. They are fake, but they will bring you real followers.

People follow accounts with many followers easier than accounts with just a few.

This mystifies me even more than paying for false clicks, likes, and followers on your own website, Facebook fan page, or Twitter account. Why? Well, several reasons.

One, Instagram is a very “locked up” service at the moment. You cannot click through on URLs in comments, and you cannot map the photo itself to take you to an external website. Even in your bio you cannot tap on a URL. Or even copy and paste it. And Instagram’s “web view”, i.e. typing in http://instagram.com/pod_gram will take you to my profile, actually does some browser tricks to prohibit casual copying and pasting. You actually have to use a third-party viewer service like statigr.am to do easy copy-paste and other normal browser tricks on an Instagram feed.

Two, because it’s “locked up”, the casual user derives no benefit from your follower count. 10000 followers on Instagram means little.

However, I shouldn’t be mystified so much. I can’t really expect everyone to check their enormous egos at the door when they go on Instagram. At the end of the day, social media services play on the fact that everyone has an ego of some sort. It’s human nature to want to talk about yourself. Social networking has nothing to do with your friends, it’s all about you, and whatever narcissistic tendencies you may have. Hell, I’ve curbed a lot of mine in the past few years, but even I’ll admit to a small amount of narcissistic behavior on the various social networks. I’m a big fan of the “aw shucks, you shouldn’t have” method, or the “say something offensive to watch the monkeys dance” concept. Hey, I’m human too. For real.

And advertisers love that. They play off of everyone’s narcissistic tendencies and egos, and establish an engagement with their customers. People are tickled pink when their favorite brands engage them, for all the world to see, in a conversation. I’m personally a fan of the one-on-one email (much more meaningful, and easier to document if needed…) but most people like when they get a dialog on Facebook or Twitter with the favorite brands or celebrities, because then they can point out to all their friends that they had a dialog with Heineken, LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, Club Space, Don Francisco, or the Honey Badger. FYI, it’s never Heineken, LeBron James, Kim, Club Space, or Don Francisco themselves. Usually it is an intern, PR flack, “social media manager” (whatever the bloody hell that means), or a marketing company doing the responding. But people ignore that little tidbit and let their ego run wild, playing right into the hands of the brands involved.

People make millions off of social media metrics, methods, and tactics. Really the only thing you need to know is that humans have varying degrees of egocentric behavior and narcissistic tendencies and play off of that. It is what it is. Hell, I have a little “oh my” moment when Car2Go retweets my photos of their Smart cars scattered around town. I find them fascinating and I love the service, so what? And if it leads to business for me, go figure.

It’s not a bad thing, even if I’m making it out to be as such. However, at least at a base level, the whole social media sphere rests on the concept that it’s real people (or their duly-appointed flacks) doing the operational side of things, or at least pressing “go” on the automation software.

The whole fake followers/likes/impressions/clicks metric destroys that concept and trust.

And Instagram, even though it’s an outbuilding on the Facebook plantation now (yes, I went there, but in the sharecropper analogy sense…), can ill-afford to have a reputation for allowing automated and fake followers this early in their popularity spurt. Facebook is going to want to place ads there very soon, and it will be hard to convince advertisers to place ads within Instagram, if Instagram has a reputation for being a haven for fake followers, like-bots, posting scripts, and little actual human content. Fake followers, bots, and scripts don’t buy products, humans do. Well fake followers, bots, and scripts buy products, but that’s illegal and doesn’t result in permanent income…

Anyways, Facebook and Instagram need to take action now against the forthcoming bot scourge before it’s too late. And people, please don’t patronize services like Insta-Great. It might tickle your fancy to show all your friends that the photo of your roach-egg-laden hamburger from some Lincoln Road “boutique” burger joint got 50000 likes, but ultimately, actions like that will sink Instagram, and potentially cause problems for real people, more so than any roach-laden hamburger. Insta-great is a farce, and serves no practical or positive purpose. Do not use them. I can only hope Lulzsec takes them down for the lulz.

Update 21 December 2012 02:47 EST

Oh the irony, within minutes of posting this article, I did a little Instagram of my friends Stephen and Buster at Jive this past Tuesday, and some spammer “liked” my image. See if you can spot ‘em.

Disclaimer: No restaurant I know of on Lincoln Road serves roach-egg-laden hamburgers, but it wouldn’t surprise me for some reason.

Disclaimer 2: I didn’t gratify the Instaspam service with a direct link, but if you are dumb enough to go there, I’m not responsible for whatever happens to you from using it. Including roach-egg-laden hamburgers being sent to your door.

Disclaimer 3: OK last one. This is agalmic cowboy action, even though half the content is bemoaning the state of social media. Trust me, there’s a lesson here!

Happy Holidays!