I registered on Instagram at the beginning, but after a while I unsubscribed. It just did not give me much. Maybe it was a bad focus of mine, but I spent time looking at pictures until I found one that I liked. It really seemed like a waste of time. So I gave up.

Seeing his evolution and success a few months ago, I thought that, as a professional of online marketing, I should be present. So in February of 2018 I went back to register.

How has Instagram evolved since its inception?
In this time I have noticed several important changes. Beyond the evolution of the platform itself, my experience is different.

The positive part is that on a personal level I think it’s a lot more entertaining than a few years ago. Its rise to the detriment of Facebook, has made many people go on to tell the highlights of their day to day in this canadian email lists. So, combining friends, family and close professionals, I have a pretty entertaining timeline.

Professionally, I think it’s an excellent tool to raise awareness of the most important companies and people, with a closer approach.

This, which I understand is the initial focus, seems fantastic to me. At least on the Internet, each time we read less. We have so much to consult, that we just scan one content and move on to the next. For this reason, among others, it seems to me that social networks like Instagram or Pinterest are very interesting.

How real is what happens on Instagram?
But the problem is when you go a little further and start to interpret the data of some profiles, to do some experiment with hashtags, to publish more frequently, etc. Your account starts to grow and you start to see the negative part.

I do not get involved in how real the activities of certain supposed influencers could be, that would be for another article and I think a lot has already been written on the subject.

What I have found is a situation similar to the one that finally caused the Twitter crisis: false followers, bots, swollen accounts with thousands of followers and just a few dozen publications, automatic comments in different languages ​​…

Instagram has noticed and is already making decisions to solve it by eliminating false followers and likes. Hopefully they arrive on time and clean up the network.

The reality is that the followers and real likes, added to all the noise generated by the automated and false, generate a positive image in the social profiles.

We see that volume and we directly think “it has to be someone important!”. But everything that glitters is not gold.

If a considerable percentage of the activity on Instagram is not valid, how can we quantify the real benefits of being present in this network?

Before answering this question, let’s see how to identify how real or influential an Instagram user is.

How to know if an Instagram account is really influential?
How can we know if everything we see happening in an Instagram account is real? When I say real, I mean human followers who follow, make likes and comments in the publications of a profile.

The fastest is to use tools like HypeAuditor, in which they show you a report (they send you the link to your email) with the main data. I have done a test with the profile of Cristiano Ronaldo and it turns out that of the 146.7 mill. of followers that you have, 43.2 million are suspicious accounts or accounts that use follow / unfollow tools (they follow you and when you follow them they stop following you, thus increasing their numbers), that do not see the publications.

And that the audience of Cristiano Ronaldo (according to this tool), has a good health (relationship between real and automated followers). Imagine how those who are in a bad situation should be.

Here you can see the example report.Cristiano Ronaldo Instagram

How can I assess the quality of an Instagram account without tools?But beyond the tools, just having a bit of common sense, you can look at:

Ratio of publications and followers: if you see that with a few dozen publications has a large number of followers, you can start to suspect (unless it is a public figure is not normal). Formula: number of followers / number of publications.
Low or zero Interaction: if you see publications with many likes but no comments.
Balance between followers and followers: if you follow many and there are few (except public figures) or if you follow and many follow you, it is likely that you use automated tools to grow.
Content quality: and of course, nothing is easier than assessing the contents you publish and see if they contribute something, if they are “canned” images (famous phrases), photo gallery images, etc.
Instagram works because it feeds our ego
If this happens, and a majority of users are aware of it, how is it still working? Why is it still appealing to us?

And like Twitter and many other networks, your success is in feeding the ego.

We all like (no matter how many people disguise it), have a lot of followers, many interactions in each publication, etc. We are humans! Everything that somehow flatters us, we feel good. Some people go to their heads, others simply like them and others say they do not care.

Recently they asked me: “As an expert in digital marketing, what do you recommend to me to increase my followers on Instagram?” The first question I asked was: “Why do you want them? What goal do you have? “And the answer was,” I do not know, to have them, because I’d like to have a lot of followers. ”

This person, who is a professional with extensive experience in their area, represents the spirit of what I told you. We are human and that they “adulate” us through followers and likes makes us feel good. The difference with the rest, is that this person was totally sincere and had no problem in expressing what he wanted.

This is an anecdotal case, but it tells us about what happens in many other accounts. Its objective is to attract followers as it is. And when we talk about companies and professionals, that is a problem because this objective ultimately has a negative impact on the results.

The feeling of belonging and the ego are the emotional bases of social networks, the rational ones are the contributions of real value both at the personal level (information, conversation, leisure, etc.), as well as professional (visibility, reputation, web traffic, sales, hiring, etc.).

What are the benefits of using Instagram for companies and professionals?
After all these reflections, what is the use of being on Instagram? If we think about it, we are evaluating our experience based on things that are not entirely real. It is true that in the case of profiles with few followers, this effect is more evident in the profiles they follow, than in their own. But at the end of the day they are taking a wrong picture of things.

But in any case, on a personal level it has a series of positive benefits:

Sense of belonging.
Inspiration for purchases.
Ego, etc.
But what benefits does Instagram have for a brand or a professional?

Visibility: allows us to announce important news.
Proximity: we can do it with a closer and different approach to other networks.
Relationship: this closeness allows us to generate relationships with our audience.
Return of investment (ROI): beyond the traffic that we can generate (from the profile or through advertising campaigns), we must try to measure the impact of our activity in the form of economic return.
Indirect: in the form of brand generation, business opportunities (for professionals) or growth of organic traffic on your website.
Direct: what happens to the traffic that comes from the Instagram profile? And of course, what results are we getting with the advertising campaigns?
Seeing the high percentage of false or automated activity, I believe that the measurement and the concrete analysis of the return on investment, are fundamental to have a real idea of ​​what we are getting. If we look only at the numbers we see on Instagram, we could get the wrong idea.

And to finish the article I open the debate with a question. If this happens to a greater or lesser extent in all social networks, what happens with companies that do not measure their activity in social networks? How deceived can they get to be if they are not measuring correctly? Do you think that more than one would abandon social networks?The photo that accompanies the article (Instagram) is from Shutter Stock.