The dubious Instagram tricks of would-be influencers

The decisive change took place in the summer of 2016. Instagram introduced an algorithm that sorted users’ posts no longer chronologically, but rather by relevance for each follower. Similar to Facebook, only a few percent of followers see the contributions of a page since then. The more followers, the lower the percentage. At the same time the platform grew faster than Facebook – now 15 million monthly active users in Germany alone. Those who want to prevail against the higher attention competition in the feed and the stricter algorithm, must be inventive.

Because in the meantime, the last housewife has noticed that you can also make good money from home with Influencen good money, flourishes the business with would-be bloggers. Self-proclaimed Instagram gurus give tips on which photos work best and which tactics lead to more engagement. They sell online courses, coaching sessions and conferences to help their loyal followers to more brand deals through Instagram. The business is lucrative, some coaches brag about their monthly six-figure revenue. The moms follow in droves and copy, without thinking what is recommended to them.

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1. Engagement Bots: Automatic interaction

It’s a tactic that has worked well on Instagram for years: interacting with content from others gets interaction back. That means: Likes, Comments, Follows you have to distribute yourself, so you get some back. In the healthy context, this simply means: Be active on Instagram, then your account grows. However, a lot of time has to be spent on such engagement. On top of that comes the time to create content. And Instagram quickly becomes a full-time job.

That’s why fancy users now use engagement bots. On websites like Gold Nitro or MegaFollow you can set to which hashtags the automatism likes to comment and follow other users. Then he launches: He interacts blindly with Instagram content without his own efforts. For outsiders, this sometimes looks as if the user was extremely indecisive: He follows and wildly ousts thousands of accounts.

This actually leads to growth because the good old # Follow4follow method still seems to be pulling on some users. Just stupid that marketers who want to work with such influencers can easily understand the use of such bots. On websites like Socialblade any account can be viewed. High follow and unfollow numbers over a longer period of time argue for the use of such tools.

Engagement Pods: Compulsive Commenting

Real people, on the other hand, arrange themselves in so-called “engagement pods”. So that Instagram does not come to terms with them and block them, the group chats form in other messenger apps. If you want to be part of it, you have to follow strict rules. The main purpose of the meeting is to like and comment on the content of all group members. Best immediately after publication, which should signal the Instagram algorithm: This post is particularly relevant, show him more people. This should increase the range.

If you are clever, you can arrange yourselves in pods that are suitable for the topic, for example, local bloggers or those with a consistent theme, such as motherhood or traveling. Those who are particularly free of pain, comment on everything that is posted in the group. Even if in real life he has nothing to do with the person or the content. This inauthentic commitment is also relatively easy for marketers to understand. If the same people always comment on the influencer’s posts in a reasonably fool-free manner, they are probably the colleagues from the Engagement Pod.

Such pods only make sense if a network of real friends wants to support each other on Instagram. But in this case, common sense is enough: Anyone who works on Instagram, sees the post of a friend and has something to say about it, simply comments. For whether the compulsive mass commentary really leads to more commitment remains an open question. The algorithms of Instagram and Facebook recognize such patterns and level the reach even with many comments on a mediocre.

Loop giveaways (“Follow Train”): Massive follower catch

A classic mechanic, quickly gaining new followers and encouraging engagement is the good old lottery. Often, brands provide a profit and the influencer raffles it via its channel. The condition: To participate, the user must follow both accounts. So far, so useful. If the content of the brand has something to do with the topics of the influencer, the raffle can bring real added value for all concerned.

A somewhat dubious variant is the so-called “Loop Giveaway”: a group of Instagrammers put together, each contributes, for example, 20 euros. Of the collected 100 euros, a coupon of a popular shop is bought. Who wants to win it, must follow all involved Instagrammern.

Clever influencers team up with thematically similar accounts, because for the raffle everyone sends their followers to the other, almost in a circle (“loop”). Therefore, such tactics are also called “Follow Train”: Everyone pulls the other and tries to collect followers. The profits are as universal as possible: A Starbucks or Amazon coupon. However, such competitions have little to do with the issues of the Influencer. Followers jump after the end of the raffle and existing fans are deterred by the maximum annoying claim to have to follow ten other accounts for a vanishingly low chance of winning.

For marketers such a competition is easily recognizable: they are open on the channels of the influencers instead. This makes it clear: This blogger is spasmodically on the Followerjagd. His community is keen on the free coupon, not necessarily on the authentic recommendations and credibility of the influencer.

For marketers who want to put their Influencer budget in cooperation, it is important to know: Such accounts may impress at first glance with a high number of followers. But is the posts really authentically commented on by real friends, acquaintances or fans? These methods do not promote a healthy community that buys everything from their influencer in case of doubt. They only prepare numbers for unsuspecting marketers who have budget to allocate.

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