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Instagram or not

Posted by V. A. Bates Kassatly on

We are slow-burners at Commun des Mortels; we opened for business without having sent out a single press release or paid a cent in advertising. Not the norm, no, but we want to get it right first time. Our sole pre-launch publicity tool was our Instagram feed; but Instagram can be deceptive.

We started without hashtags; we added them after launch. Our likes immediately increased x3; our comments were suddenly full of generic niceties: Good shot, Dope, Sick, accompanied by equally unspecific emojis; and we were adding more than 10 followers a day. Great, except little of it was real; our new admirers were bots. And bots don't look at pictures or buy clothes.
There is no way of avoiding the plague of bots that infest Instagram - and they have their uses; if you want to find like-minded people to join your tribe, it is more efficient to use a carefully targeted bot than to trawl through feeds yourself; I know, I tried. The problem is that so many pages are using them to inflate their followings for reasons of vanity or in hopes of sponsorship, that it is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.
If you want to know how real the page is that you are interacting with, start by looking at the ratio of Followers to Followings; the higher that is, the greater the likelihood that the numbers you are looking at actually represent humans and not machines. Of course, many bots are programmed to unlike pages at a specific rate, in the hopes that the target will not realise, leaving the bot with a net gain in followers. So the next thing to look at is engagement: what percentage of the page's followers are regularly interacting and leaving likes and comments? If the answer is in the single digits, move on. But even if the answer is 10% or more, you are still not out of the woods. Now look a couple of posts on the page. What do the comments look like? If it is all generic comments and standard emojis, there is a good chance that a lot of the interaction is actually bots; the more the comments suggest that a real person actually looked at the photo and had something to say, the more valuable and reliable the page is.
You can't avoid bots using you, even if you don't use them yourself, so everyone's numbers will have some distortion, but when that hot Youtuber with a massive number of followers and followings likes your page, don't be flattered; they probably never even saw the picture they left that heart emoji on.

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