HBO released a documentary this year highlighting a side of influencing that a lot of internet personalities don’t want you to know about. The film, Fake Famous, provides a glimpse into the marketing techniques used to turn ordinary people into celebrities on Instagram. Buying bots is just the beginning. There’s a lot of effort that goes into pretending like your life is interesting enough to follow on social media. For example, there’s finding the perfect angle for your photos so you look like you’re in a mansion in Los Angeles instead of an apartment complex outside of the city. You have to have someone help you take photos so they don’t look staged. The list goes on. Let’s explore what goes down in the movie and why their message is an important one for content creators to keep in mind.
Obsessed With Numbers
It’s true, influencing requires a certain level of obsession with your follower count. And, you have to be conscious of how many people are actually engaging with your content. The question then becomes, how many of these people are real? I can’t be the only one who’s noticed the comments section on social media accounts of successful meme pages are filled with bots. Bots everywhere! Then, I wonder if these people really are as successful as I thought, or if it’s just a numbers game. Gaining a large number of followers in a small amount of time is part of the influencing game, but why? Isn’t it more impressive to build a following of real people from the ground up? Maybe so…
On the other hand, buying bots can be a really useful way to boost your posts and trick the Instagram algorithm into getting your content noticed by the real followers you do have. This increases your chances of boosting your posts even further into the general Internet stratosphere. If you’re just starting out influencing on Instagram and are struggling to get your account noticed, buying bots isn’t a bad route to go down.
Influencing: Game or Job?
For a lot of people, influencing is a way for them to make money. The more followers you have, the more sponsored posts you can do. The more times you pose with a granola bar you’ve never tried before in your life, the more free stuff you get sent. This cycle happens until you get the ultimate influencing prize of going on a trip for free. I can’t say for certain whether that’s something that actually happens or not, because I don’t trust the influencing lifestyle.
In Fake Famous, the director shows us just how easy it is to stage a photo if you know your angles and have the right lighting. You can make a toilet seat look like the window of a private jet. A kiddy pool sitting outside of a rundown shack becomes a picture-perfect poolside afternoon. It’s crazy! For those who don’t make content for a living, this seems like a total nightmare. That being said, there are plenty of people who want to make money off of their content so that they can survive. A lot of influencers have degrees in marketing or communications. They use the skills they learned in college to amass a following big enough to pay their bills. Maybe it’s fake, but if you’re making money off it, does that really matter?
This documentary is a great way to learn how you can engage with your audience in a way that feels authentic to you. So what if some of your followers are bots? Who cares if your photos are staged? If influencing makes you feel happy, or gives you a sense of gratification, then the rest is just noise. We can move forward with creating content as long as we’re staying true to ourselves. People will always respond to that.