If you have an Instagram account then there is a good chance that you follow someone that could be classed as an ‘influencer’. What this term is describing is someone who has the power to sway public opinion based on their perceived thoughts and values on Instagram. An example of this would be if Justin Bieber were to declare something a new fashion trend. He could do this by posting pictures of himself wearing it all over his page and then all of a sudden we could see a lot of the younger generation and his followers trying to copy the trend. This is what is meant by being an influencer: when you have a popular following on Instagram and it seems as if you have the ability to sway public opinion to a certain degree. However, is the follower count on Instagram as accurate as it seems?
When 100k isn’t 100k
When looking at whom to follow on Instagram, people are more likely to follow someone who already has a mass of followers compared to following someone with very little. When someone has a lot of followers, it makes you think their content is good, and that if a lot of people already feel they are benefitting by following them/enjoy seeing their posts, you probably will too. However, nowadays there are common ways for people to cheat Instagram by following fake followers. This is similar to what search engine optimization (or SEO) experts are calling “black-hat” tactics, which means that these methods are usually considered dishonest and is frowned upon by Google as an attempt to cheat the algorithm for good content. Google is becoming better and better at seeking out these tactics and finding out when it is going out. Once the search engine decides to penalize you, there is a hefty price to pay for using such foul play tactics. They can take a lot of ranking points away from your site if there is evidence that you have been using black-hat SEO tactics to rise up the ranks. When it comes to Instagram, beating the game means accumulating followers that you do not really have. This is considered a tactic of black-hat social media.
Social media is a great way to give publicity to your own brand or product as the whole world is able to see it. Social media plays a large part in younger people’s lives as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other similar platforms grow in size. However, on Instagram what may seem popular may actually be all smoke and mirrors. There are apps out there that allow people to buy fake followers which are bot pages to inflate the following the user seems that have. This means that someone with 100k followers may only have 10,000 real people whereas the rest are bots that are boosting his follow count. The main reason for adding bots is to seem more popular and therefore attempt to attract others to follow you as they would hopefully just come to the conclusion that if the page is good enough for 100,000 other people, it is good enough for them.
Why do they say fake it until you make it?
From personal experience and knowing someone who is starting to become an Instagram influencer, adding bots at the beginning was a helpful tactic to make their page seem more popular and that exponentially grew the rate at which actual people would follow them. So in the early stages of the social media game this could be a good idea from that stand point. It can help to grow your following faster than if you waited for users to follow you as they may not think your page is worthwhile if you have minimal followers, even though the case may be that you are just new to Instagram and not that you are a lackluster individual. There is a lot to think about in the social media world and the pros and cons of black-hat SEO tactics.