Lead-Gen Automation: How To Become A LinkedIn Influencer
Here's Everything You Need To Know About Bots
Welcome to the secret underbelly of Social Media.
Real People Are Turning Their Social Media Accounts Into Bots - And Cashing In
Social Media bots create fake engagement. And they're quite effective.
They make posts appear more popular than they are, tricking algorithms into spreading them further.
And there's a good chance there's one in your feed right now.
Bots are amazing tools for bloggers. Amazing indeed.
Viral Hippo, the BuzzFeed News–created Instagram account that used a bot to rack up more than 1,500 likes on a photo of a black square, netted almost double that on a photo of a yellow square. It pulled in 1,400 likes on a diagram of the human sinus, and more than 1,200 on an accidentally shot photo of a hubcap. The likes were from real accounts.
"It’s not just Russian bots and hackers, it’s 22-year-old kids in their dorm rooms and influencers and brands of all sizes."
And the additional exposure bots provide can be quite valuable.
And as LinkedIn and other Social Media platforms have increased in popularity, Zopto and other similar services — including automated engagement trading groups on apps like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram itself — have become must-haves for many looking to build a business or gain exposure on the internet.
Brands like Walmart, Kroger, and the skin treatment product Aquaphor showed up in sponsored, engagement-juiced posts BuzzFeed News uncovered. Multiple bot users who liked Viral Hippo’s intentionally terrible posts liked these posts as well. The sponsored posts on Instagram can fetch anywhere from $500 to $3,000 a pop. Walmart did not respond to requests for comment. Kroger did not comment. Aquaphor spokesperson Leslie Kickham told BuzzFeed News the company has severed its relationship with the Instagram influencer that was promoting its products.
“Fraudulent activity is bad for everyone. We have a strong incentive to prevent this kind of behavior on Instagram and staff a number of teams to detect fraudulent activity and shut it down,” Instagram spokesperson Gabe Madway told BuzzFeed News.
A Bot Factory At Your Fingertips
Kent Heckel's bot farm.
Sitting in his small, lofted bedroom in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, Kent Heckel picked up a palm-sized computer off a ledge next to his bed and explained how it’s home to more than 2,900 Instagram bots. The computer, called a Raspberry Pi, is a $35 hobby machine designed for students, teachers, and tinkerers. For Heckel, it’s been something else: a bot farm, delivering a stream of US-based likes to his Instagram account and the accounts of five paying clients.
Heckel’s bot farm is not a complex operation. He uses the Raspberry Pi to run a script that checks his and his clients’ accounts every few seconds. When the script sees a new post, it logs into each of the 2,900 accounts it controls and uses them to like it. The script can automate up to three likes per second. It pulls the bots’ usernames and passwords from a spreadsheet Heckel bought access to on Telegram’s Black Market group for approximately $1,600 last year. For Heckel, the bots come together masterfully. In April alone, he’s used them to make $12,000.
Heckel has no reservations about gaming Instagram — and no regrets, either. For him, the platform's failure to protect itself from manipulation has established an uneven playing field just asking to be exploited. “It’s not just Russian bots and hackers, it’s 22-year-old kids in their dorm rooms and influencers and brands of all sizes,” he said. “The damage is done on a very large level because nothing is genuine.”
"The products people are pushing to you are inauthentic and most of the comments under them are fake. That’s not the system that we want to live in."
Renee DiResta, policy lead at Data for Democracy, believes this level of manipulation is deeply corrosive. “The risk of realizing that the internet is massively manipulated is that the cognitive overhead to process even the most basic interactions increases, suspicion increases, polarization potentially increases,” she told BuzzFeed News. “The engagement is fundamentally manipulated; the content you’re seeing, you’re seeing because someone gamed an algorithm; the products people are pushing to you are inauthentic and most of the comments under them are fake. That’s not the system that we want to live in.”
Bot's proprietors often insist their service was legitimate and not a violation of platform policies. They claim that the engagement they deliver is not entirely automated, and their algorithms push the posts to a sea of thousands of human likers across the world.
Heckel said he's dubious of such claims. “If they are actually doing it by hand my mind will be blown,” he said. “They send 10,000s of likes a second.”
The bots really do work. Instagram’s algorithms use comments and likes as key signals when deciding which posts to place at the top of your feed — and bot's likes and comments helped Viral Hippo reach a broad audience beyond those who followed the account. Two screenshots of viral tweets were liked by more than 4,000 people, compared to the baseline of 1,500 likes for the all-black square.
Boost Power Bot drove hundreds of likes to a stock image of a steaming manure pile.
Via bots like Zopto, you can also like and comment on an endless stream of posts — posts from doctors, lawyers, professional influencers, self-proclaimed venture capitalists, models, fitness gurus, marketing agencies, and even a few baby accounts. It likes hundreds of posts per day.
Cade Ellis, an 18-year-old rapper, told BuzzFeed News he was using a bot on Instagram to expand his reach and break out of geographic isolation in North Florida. “Social media is very important to get out there; I have to use it,” he said. “It helps you look good and establish yourself.”
Photographer Reilly Small echoed that sentiment, noting that Instagram’s algorithm had negatively impacted his reach in a way that forced him to get creative. Software like bots are necessary. “I love Instagram, but because they meddled in this kind of way, I think that it is pushing a lot of influencers and businesses to look for other ways to grow.”
On Telegram, engagement trading occurs in the open. The messaging app — currently battling Russian government attempts to shut it down over its unwillingness to hand over its encryption keys — is home to groups, whose entire purpose is to game Instagram. Share your account credentials with a chatbot called Boost Power Bot, found via the BoostGram group, and your posts will get engagement “within minutes,” the service’s promotional video promises. “It’s that simple!” two women declare at the end of the video. The two women in the video weren’t lying. Boost Power Bot drove hundreds of likes to a stock image of a steaming manure pile posted to Viral Hippo.
There are similar engagement gaming communities on Facebook Groups. The 17,000-member “Instagram Engagement Group” posts “daily like threads,” where members comment with their username and link to a post they want members of the group to like. Then, using a browser plug-in called “LikeItAll,” group members like every post in the thread automatically. LikeItAll’s web page boasts of more than 127 million posts “autoliked.” Facebook shut down the Instagram Engagement Group on Thursday after being contacted by BuzzFeed News.
The reciprocal nature of these services makes it easy to determine who’s using them. “How did you find out that I'm using a bot?” Armand asked. Answer: Her popular account had liked a completely gray square posted by Viral Hippo. She wasn’t particularly concerned though; to Armand, gaming Instagram is so commonplace, it’s unremarkable.
Given the incentives created by Instagram, Heckel and his fellow Fuelgram users feel like they have a simple choice: post to Instagram, pray for engagement and risk not getting any; or do whatever you can to amass likes and comments to get your profile, business, or political view in front of the platform’s 800 million users. Heckel has made his decision. If Instagram can’t stop people from gaming its algorithm, he’s going to game it. And should Instagram shut down bot services, he anticipates more will rise in their place. “There will always be a next thing, a next bot … something in the pipeline in the Telegram groups,” Heckel said. “Just so you know — and you can quote me on this — I don't plan on stopping.”
Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Need To Be a LinkedIn Influencer
1. Built-in Relevant Audience:
The Influencer tag will upgrade your value and expand your reach without any hassle.
Dharmesh Shah in his post, The Surprising Brilliance Of The LinkedIn Influencers Program, wrote that when he shared his content on other social media platforms…
The maximum number that he got was 50,000+ views.
But when he shared articles on LinkedIn after becoming an Influencer.
The average number of views raised to 123,000 views!!
In fact his most popular article has received 1.2 million views and 4,200 comments!
Your reach increases after becoming a LinkedIn Influencer.
2. Dramatic Increase in Followers:
Here's the kicker:
With an Influencer Tag, people see you as a much more reliable and trusted source of information.
3. Growth in Networking:
Networking is everything, literally everything nowadays.
Because LinkedIn Influencer gives you a Perfect Staging for Networking.
See what Dharmesh Shah is mentioning about the number of Likes and Shares he got at two different mediums, namely Twitter and LinkedIn.
He has told us some amazing facts, such as this one:
For one of his posts, he got 485 likes on LinkedIn as compared to 155 tweets on Twitter.
And this was solely because of him being a LinkedIn Influencer.
4. Expanded Branding & Promotion:
Reach a higher number of their target audience
Sell and generate more leads
Build a Social CRM easier
Generate more website traffic
Get more Engagement
5. It's a Win-Win
LinkedIn loves more content which generates more traffic and revenue.