The Rise of Robots in Social Media


Jacqueline Puga

Jan 24, 2019


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Social Media

Social media is all about star power. Everyone wants to be in the know of the latest news, celebrities, their friends, and influencers. Keeping up with these can be an excellent social media strategy for hotels. They want to star on their platform, and they can achieve it if they have a big social media following. But, as with anything, there is one big issue that keeps arising, robots. Although Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have tried to get this problem under control, it’s an ongoing issue that continues to this day, and it might be affecting you.

If you have ever read reports about Instagram and parent company Facebook’s ad revenue, you’ll know that there are billions of dollars involved. With such a profitable operation, investors should be sure that their money is well spent. After their creation, social media platforms saw a rise in fake accounts. These accounts are known as “bots” short for robots. They do not belong to real people. They are valuable in quantity rather than the quality of content they post. According to Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, over 1 million accounts are being blocked every day.

Often these accounts have zero or one post and a link in the bio directing them to an external website or another account. Their primary use is to follow, like, and comment on various accounts. These accounts help to get real users to click on over to their account or the links to external websites. They are spam and social media’s second-worst nightmare only behind a security data breach. For users, they are merely annoyances, but for advertisers, they are a negative return on investment.

You might be asking yourself, “So what do I care?” Well, if you’ve ever placed an ad on any social media network, your money has been tied up in it, so it might be worth looking into. You might have paid for engagement that has come from robots rather than real people. Funding for this type of engagement matters because when you pay for advertising, you want to get the most out of your investment. After all, you’ve put so much work into producing the perfect ad with quality images, videos, and content, and your time and resources should be well spent or, at the very least, seen by real people.

Although the social media giants have waged war on these accounts, there hasn’t been a noticeable decline in the number of bots. It is simple for a user to take a look at an account and pinpoint signs that it is a robot account. Here are a few:

  1. User names are a mix of numbers and letter that don’t form words
  2. No profile photo
  3. Few or no photos uploaded
  4. Few or no followers
  5. Following a large number of people
  6. Link in bio directing users to another site or tagging another profile

The issue is that many advertisers are paying to get exposure to real people who are potential customers. They are, however, getting duped when those clicks are coming from a robot that will never be able to purchase their product or service. It’s a massive fraud hard to distinguish from the real thing because it’s mixed in with valid accounts.

That being said, there are steps you can follow to make sure you get the most out of social media by avoiding these bots as much as possible. For instance, if you are teaming up with an influencer, make sure legitimate accounts build their following. If you scroll through the followers or fans of an account and you notice any of the signs mentioned above, be concerned. Their following is made of fake accounts, not real people. Another way to gauge the validity of their audience is to check out their engagement rate by comparing their number of followers to the number of likes and comments they receive. If most of their comments come from bots, they will be generic greetings like “Nice post” and “Cool feed,” followed by emojis. They usually don’t reference specifics and sometimes lead you to another page or direct you to a link. A standard engagement rate should be around 3%, and an excellent rate usually hovers around the 6% mark. Although these numbers sound low, they are typical on social media.

When teaming up with influencers, make sure to keep this in mind. Don’t be fooled by a large following without value. Look for the signs and avoid accounts with robots to get the most out of your advertisement.

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