Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bloomberg writer tries to become an Instagram influencer

Businessweek:

The plan, which I worked out with my editor and a slightly confused Bloomberg Businessweek lawyer, was this: With Saynt’s company advising me, I would go undercover for a month, attempting to turn my schlubby @mchafkin profile into that of a full-fledged influencer. I would do everything possible within legal bounds to amass as many followers as I could. My niche would be men’s fashion, a fast-growing category in which I clearly had no experience. The ultimate goal: to persuade someone, somewhere, to pay me cash money for my influence.

...

I signed up for a service recommended to me by Socialyte called Instagress. It’s one of several bots that, for a fee, will take the hard work out of attracting followers on Instagram. For $10 every 30 days, Instagress would zip around the service on my behalf, liking and commenting on any post that contained hashtags I specified. (I also provided the bot a list of hashtags to avoid, to minimize the chances I would like pornography or spam.) I also wrote several dozen canned comments—including “Wow!” “Pretty awesome,” “This is everything,” and, naturally, “[Clapping Hands emoji]”—which the bot deployed more or less at random. In a typical day, I (or “I”) would leave 900 likes and 240 comments. By the end of the month, I liked 28,503 posts and commented 7,171 times.

...

Siegel could offer me as many perfectly framed lattes, hipster hotel lobbies, and urban sunsets as I wanted. I bought 20 for $400, which brought my total tab for photography services to $2,000. I asked her about credit—should I note in my feed that she was the photographer? Siegel suggested that I might shout her out once or twice, but crediting her would break the illusion. As she pointed out, “You’re the one who is supposed to be experiencing these things.”