The Rise of Robots in Social Media

The Rise of Robots in Social Media
Jacqueline Puga
Jacqueline Puga
January 24, 2019
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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 a good social media strategy for hotels. They want to be stars on their own platform, and they can achieve so 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 the Instagram and parent company Facebook’s ad revenue you’ll know that there are billions of dollars involved. With such a lucrative 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 the 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 outside website or another account. Their main use is to follow, like and comment on various accounts to get real users to click on over to their account or the links to external websites of tagged accounts that may be in the bio of the profiles. 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 of 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. This 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 a war on these accounts, there hasn’t been a noticeable decline in the number of bots. Even as the algorithms are improved to strengthen their weak points it is simple for a user to take a look at an account and pinpoint signs that it is a robot account.


  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 customer, they are getting duped when those clicks are coming from a robot that will never be able 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 their following is built by legitimate accounts. If you scroll through the followers or fans of an account and you notice any of the aforementioned signs you should be aware that 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 healthy engagement rate should be around 3% and 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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