For a long while now, we've been saying that is was only a matter of time before a major news agencies picked up the story of #instafraud. Finally, The New York Times have - and this will no-doubt be the start of more articles to come on the subject and how it undermines the real value of Instagram.
Instagram Stories has been a bit of a revelation. Aside from the fact that it seems to have kicked Snapchat into touch, this new feature has changed Instagram to a 'live' social media, where people can give an instant snapshot of what they're up to, looking at, or looking like.
Of course, Instagram has always been a highly creative space, where people are forever pushing the boundaries, delivering different and ever-more imaginative content. And, the same was always going to be the case for Instagram Stories.
We've been experimenting ourselves, using lines, big letters, and a whole host of other 'tricks' to make our content stand out a little bit more. Nik, in particular, has been obsessing over various formats; most recently, borders.
In this video, he gives a nice, brief tutorial into how to create images for Stories, with a solid white surround. Have a watch, have a go, and tag us in your Stories, so we can see how you get on.
A very interesting piece over on Medium by photographer Ewen Bell, where he takes a look at engagement on Instagram to understand what a natural pattern of engagement looks like vs. that of the fakers and fraudsters.
Nik took a grilling from the Naked PR Girl blog about all things influencer marketing, how #instafraud is changing the way we do things, and who out there inspires us online.
It's a thorough and open interview - to say the least - packed with useful info (well, we would say that, wouldn't we?) on influencer marketing.
So, Instagram are getting their act together and forcing bot services to close. That can only be a good thing; but, now Instagram are (finally) recognising bots as being a problem, the next question is... what will they do to those people who have used them in the past?
While it's definitely (definitely definitely definitely!) a positive move to see the bot services being tackled, there surely needs to be something done to tackle those people who've 'earned' a high profile position on Instagram through the use of these bots.Read More
Over on LinkedIn, earlier this week, we started to unpick the numbers behind the classic Instagram ‘engagement’ score, in an attempt to understand what this score actually shows.
Our conclusion? It’s hard (read: impossible) to truly understand an influencer’s or post’s actual engagement with the data available.Read More
As we've been saying, it was only a matter of time before the mainstream media started picking up on #Instafraud. First up, was the Mail, followed by this piece in The Evening Standard.
It's all fairly harmless stuff at the minute, but it's helping build awareness of the problems inherent with Instagram's data and some of their more unscrupulous users, who user automated-engagement programmes to artificially inflated their followings.
We have a new post up, over on LinkedIn, where we're talking about the meaningless and over simplification of Instagram engagement rates.
Come on. You know as well as we do, those engagement rates that people spout about Instagram (where you divide the number of likes, by the number of followers) are far too simplistic to be of any real value.
So, we decided to take a look and see if we could construct / deconstruct the stats available to produce some more meaningful statistics.
In short, we couldn't; but, our work has gone some way to ask raise some questions about the analysis we could do, were the data available.
Following The Daily Mail's article about Instagram fraud, we spoke to PR Week about the increased publicity of #instafraud and how this will (ultimately) increase awareness amongst the brands and advertisers who spend money on Instagram ads and influencer campaigns.
We've been saying it would happen for a while; but, finally, a major news agency has picked up the #InstaFraud story.
What happens from here will be interesting to see. Articles published in well-read papers, that are widely circulated, are likely to increase awareness of #InstaFraud amongst the brands and advertisers (and perhaps investors) who spend money with Instagram and/or influencers who use the platform.
Surely, these guys will start to demand some answers from Instagram as to the extent of automated-engagement, like and follower buying, comment pods, and the like.
Only time will tell; but, it's a start...
Our latest database update has gone live! We've added 22 new influencers, with a combined cumulative audience of over 250,000 followers.
In total, our database now has (drum roll please) 502 influencers, with an audience of almost 34 million followers.
Come on, though - the numbers are irrelevant, aren't they. They're cheap statistics, easily cheated, played with, messed with, and will contain a lot of followers who are spam, defunct, based in countries you don't sell your product or are people who'll never buy what you're trying to sell anyway.
Tell me it ain't so?
But, don't give up all hope. Ignore the numbers, find those people who produce the kind of quality content that you love, get in touch with them, and work out a way that these people can introduce your brand to their big, small, or medium audience.
Remember, this game is all about genuine influence over an audience (of any size) - not a never-ending fixation on big numbers.
Recognise this and you'll see a return. Work with people based purely on the numbers - and you're on a hiding to nothing.
Instagram must continue its work combatting the "really unethical" practice of Instagram influencers inflating their follower count - but agencies themselves cannot simply use the issue as a scapegoat.
(read more on PR Week)
Back in the day, when I played Mario Kart, I knew rubber banding existed - I just didn’t know what it was called.
Then, reading The Economist the other day (yep, I really am that highbrow), I finally learned its name.
Rubber banding is a technique a computer game uses to keep the players close together. In a race, this can mean making the cars that fall to the back faster, rewarding them with better power-ups, or whatever it takes to bring them nearer to the players who are out in front.
A large element of digital marketing will forever be based on numbers. There’s no getting away from it, really. It’s the nature of the beast and what the market demands.
Brands want numbers to prove that what they’re doing is working - essentially.
And yet, we all know (and many of us admit) that the vast majority of digital metrics are deeply flawed, principally because they can’t reflect - in any way - the thoughts and feelings of the users who are responsible for them.
In this piece over on LinkedIn, we take a look at the relationship between influencer marketing agency Whalar and Instagram - and ask, do Instagram or Whalar know that they're selling the services of potentially fraudulent influencers.
For anyone who wants to really geek out on the tech behind the bots, have a read of this piece over on Mobile Inc.
This blog post tells the story of how an app developer created a bot to grow their following on Instagram. It runs through some of the tech, most of the theory, and a good deal of the experimentation involved too.
Following the news that Instagress had been shut down on the orders of Instagram, PR Week asked us to comment on the situation. Here's what we said:
'It's good that Instagram have taken down Instagress, but there are many more these bot services still live. It's a struggle to see how Instagram will close down all of them; but, all the while they don't, they'll continue to lose trust amongst their user base and amongst the brands who pay so much money to advertise through their service.'
Following a surge in chat across the socials about #instafraud, we decided to throw our thoughts out there on why we dislike Instagram fraud so much, why we feel Instagram aren't doing enough to address it, and the damage it's doing to Instagram as a social network.
There's been a lot of murmurings about Instagram fraud behind closed doors - and (increasingly) a little in public.
We get asked - quite often - who is committing fraud and (more importantly) how we know they are. So, we decided to put together this video detailing how you can detect an Instagram account that you think is using bots to artificially inflate it's following and how you can confirm that, using the website SocialBlade.
It's always great to see good people getting the coverage they deserve.
Long time friend of Three Letters (well, of me and Mat anyway), Lucie Kerley talks all about her career, her blog, how the two have developed, how they are inter-linked, and she reflects on the state of influencer and digital marketing, with a nice shoutout to our latest YouTube video.