In the age of Instagram bots, all you need is $500 and a dream. The Hustle Wed, Mar 14 Brought to you by Fundrise… a home for your tax return. Advertisers are using new verification software to weed out Instagram bots Last year, advertisers spent an estimated $1B on Instagram influencer marketing. That figure is […]
March 14, 2018
In the age of Instagram bots, all you need is $500 and a dream.
Brought to you by Fundrise… a home for your tax return.
Advertisers are using new verification software to weed out Instagram bots
Last year, advertisers spent an estimated $1B on Instagram influencer marketing. That figure is expected to double by 2019.
There’s just one problem with that: It’s relatively easy to game the system by creating a fake account (AKA, a bot), buying fake followers and convincing brands to shell out thousands of dollars for sponsored posts on a completely made up account.
Now, a cottage industry of verification software companies is popping up, enlisting algorithms to give advertisers a better bang for their buck.
Down on the farm
With $500 and a dream, you can buy thousands of followers from an Instagram bot farm, and thousands of “likes” and comments from a click farm.
Once an account has 10k followers, it generally qualifies for influencer-marketing platforms (companies that hook up influencers with brands) — and from there, it’s easy money, so long as your fake account goes undetected.
A 2015 study found that 8% of Instagram accounts are fraudulent — and on average, 16.4% of the top 20 Instagram accounts’ followers are fake.
To catch a bot
Instagram has made some halfhearted attempts to crack down on fake accounts in recent years, motivating advertisers to turn to third-party account “verifiers” to ensure that accounts are real.
One such company, Dovetale, uses “more than 50 metrics” — including the rate of follows and likes, country of origin, the wording of bios, and excessive emoji use in comments — to determine an account’s legitimacy.
When an account’s post activity is graphed out, there are also clear markations: A legit post that gets popular organically usually sees a swell in traffic followed by a gradual decline; a fake post’s traffic shoots off the charts and falls to nothing within a few hours.
Numbers aren’t everything
Part of this issue stems from the fact that most advertisers’ commitments (and the rates they pay) are based on follower count, rather than engagement or other more qualitative markers.
Certain advertisers who invest heavily in influencer marketing care more about reach than substance. And unless the target demographic is “millennial bots,” that’s a problem.
…but can they take selfies?
The White House puts the kibosh on Broadcom’s purchase of Qualcomm
For the last few months, Singapore-based semiconductor company Broadcom and US chipmaker Qualcomm have been entrenched in a hostile takeover.
Then, on Monday, just when it looked like a deal (which would’ve been the largest in tech history) was finally going to happen, the White House blocked Broadcom’s proposed $117B purchase, citing “credible evidence” that it would “impair the national security of the United States.”
5G: it’s gettin’ real…
And Qualcomm and Broadcom are both working center stage in the race to develop the ultra-fast broadband tech.
But, had the deal gone through, Broadcom would’ve secured $100B in debt, and the US was worried the debt to finance a takeover would force them to squeeze profit out of Qualcomm elsewhere, taking their eye off the 5G prize and making way for Chinese competitors like Huawei — one of the world’s largest telecom companies — to gain ground.
Welp, ya don’t see that everyday
The deal hadn’t even officially been agreed on, meaning the government stepped in to prevent a deal that essentially didn’t exist.
It’s an unprecedented power move by the US gov — and it shows the Trump administration isn’t taking any chances on deals that could dilute American tech companies, or give China a leg up in the global tech race.
“Pay-for-play” on high-profile Spotify playlists isn’t dead… it’s just evolving
Back in 2015, Billboard released an expose reporting that PR teams could pay as much as $10k a placement to earn their artists’ songs a spot on Spotify’s most popular playlists.
Since then, Spotify’s updated their terms of service to ban users and employees from accepting any compensation to influence the content of a playlist — but, according to a recent article by The Daily Dot, the “black market for Spotify playlists” is still booming.
And, with Spotify’s official playlists generating almost a third of its total streaming traffic, landing a spot on their most popular lists is a ticket to the top of the charts.
“Playola” is the new payola
These days, Spotify’s in-house team of curators appears to be on the straight-and-narrow, but independent influencers are much harder to police. And, a song that gains traction in several popular playlists is likely to get picked by Spotify’s algorithm-based playlists like “Discover Weekly.”
Influential “playlisters” can charge different amounts depending on how high up the song is in the list, negotiate a monthly retainer for a limited time placement, or skirt the rules using sites that connect them to artists as “consultants.” *Insert joke about scammy consultants here*
But the scammers have become the scammees
Turns out it’s pretty easy to fake your number of plays of a playlist, and playlisters can pretty easily boost their follower count using platforms via a “followgate,” which requires a follow in exchange for a free download.
So, fair warning to hype hackers, in the wise words of Justin Timberlake, “what goes around comes back around.”
According to a report by the World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, there are 1.2B people in the world who live in less than adequate housing.
But on Tuesday at South By Southwest, the Austin-based robotics construction startup ICON presented a possible solution: a 3D-printed home built on their mobile printer, the Vulcan, which can lay down a 1-story house faster than you can Amazon Prime a TV for the living room.
The sweet deets
The model presented at SXSW was merely a prototype, despite the fact it came equipped with a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and curved porch, but the company believes with a little fine tuning, the Vulcan will be able to do so much more.
It can reportedly take 8 months or longer to build a community of 100 homes at $6k a pop with the more traditional methods. According to ICON, the Vulcan is capable of printing one 650-square-foot, single-story home out of cement in 12 to 24 hours, for less than $4k.
Taking the show on the road
Last year, ICON partnered with New Story, a nonprofit charity that works to fix slums into functional, sustainable communities, and together they plan to address housing shortages around the world.
Currently, ICON can print an entire home for $10k, but once their process is fully ironed out, the company is certain they can hit their mark of $4k.
Their goal is to finish testing, and have 100 homes built in El Salvador by 2019.
You know what they say… ask for forgiveness, not permission
Unless you want your boss to send you to Hustle Con, our annual conference on June 22. Then you should probably make your case ahead of time.
But, asking your boss for things can be nerve-racking. Lucky for you, if there’s one thing we’re great at, it’s writing persuasive, informative emails — so we’re saving you the sweaty palms and doing all the footwork.
It’s called the boss permission slip
Just fill out some basic info in this form (your name, boss’s name, company name etc.). Then, we’ll send an email to your boss on your behalf (with you BCC’d) explaining why Hustle Con is so valuable and letting them know that you’d like to attend.
“Saul’s got only one motto in life folks: ‘never pay full price, for ANYTHING.’ I’d haggle with the doc for a half-off kidney if I needed one. There’s deals everywhere if you know where to look. This week, Saul’s dealing premium quality meats delivered to your door.”
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