Instagram Influencers Are All Starting To Look The Same. Here’s Why.

Instagram Influencers Are All Starting To Look The Same. Here's

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Social media influencers these days are starting to look like beauty clones. You know the look: a full pout, perfectly arched eyebrows, maybe some expertly applied eyeliner, topped off with a healthy dose of highlighter and cheek contouring. With a few makeup brushes, a contour palette and some matte lip color, you can be well on your way to looking like everyone else.

Thanks to the internet, Weingarten said, people no longer have to travel to see beauty trends from all over the world, nor do we need to wait for them to make their way to us. Because of that, we learn about trends that are popular in other parts of the world more quickly than we ever would have in the past, and we can participate in them. (Just think about Korean beauty and how quickly it exploded in the U.S. You can even buy specialty products at CVS and Walgreens.)

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Rising Instagram Stars Are Posting Fake Sponsored Content

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But transitioning from an average Instagram or YouTube user to a professional “influencer”—that is, someone who leverages a social-media following to influence others and make money—is not easy. After archiving old photos, redefining your aesthetic, and growing your follower base to at least the quadruple digits, you’ll want to approach brands. But the hardest deal to land is your first, several influencers say; companies want to see your promotional abilities and past campaign work. So many have adopted a new strategy: Fake it until you make it.

Is Geotagging on Instagram Ruining Natural Wonders? Some Say Yes

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Sorry, Instagrammers. You are ruining Wyoming.

Last week, the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors to stop geotagging photographs on social media in an effort to protect the state’s pristine forests and remote lakes. Explaining the campaign, Brian Modena, a tourism-board member, suggested the landscape was under threat from visitors drawn by the beautiful vistas on Instagram.

Delta Lake, a remote refuge surrounded by the towering Grand Tetons, has become “a poster child for social media gone awry,” Mr. Modena said in an interview last week. “Influencers started posting from the top of the lake. Then it started racing through social media.” (Influencers, if you don’t know, are people with huge social media followings who sometimes make a living posting about places and products.)

How Hackers Are Stealing High-Profile Instagram Accounts

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Ruvim Achapovskiy, the founder of SocialBomb, a social marketing agency in Seattle, said that he’s seen branded-content scams increase sharply over the past year. They’ve also gotten more sophisticated. Hackers sometimes create their own fake brands to phish influencers, but often they pretend to be representatives from real companies. “They’ll set up some sort of username that’s something that seems like it would be legit, like @LuluLemonAmbassadors,” he said. “They’ll use all the company logos, make it seem as legit as possible, make the bio seem normal. Use the company’s mission statement. It’s super simple.”

Once hackers gain control of an influencer’s account, said Moritz von Contzen, founder of the Dutch social-media agency Avenik, they’ll often hop into the account’s direct messages and begin spamming other influencers with the same phishing links before the hacked influencer even knows what’s happening.

The Best Influencers Are Babies

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Any old influencer can market tea-toxes or gummies that claim to give you better hair, but not everyone with 100,000 loyal followers on Instagram happens to be pregnant. “If you’re a baby company or if you’re putting out a product for a mother that’s about to have a baby or if you’re currently pregnant, you’re kind of limited in the amount of influencers out there to work with,” he explains. “So, as you can imagine just for supply and demand, it makes you a lot more valuable because the pool of talent is very limited.”

And then there’s the fact that many of these moms are American millennials selling to other American millennials, all of whom are well acquainted with the act of making a purchase on their phones. Instagram shopping in general has boomed, in part thanks to a new class of brands existing mostly or entirely on the platform.

Prick from school now describing himself as an ‘influencer’

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Tom Booker, a devious little shit you assumed was going to be an letting agent, is instead putting a lot of selfies on Instagram and referring to himself ‘a brand ambassador in waiting’.

The egregious tosser, whose last interaction with you was egging your mum’s car on results day, also has his own website where he calls himself a ‘thinkfluencer’ and claims his endorsement will boost sales.

The Follower Factory

Jessica Rychly, whose social identity was stolen by a Twitter bot when she was in high school. 

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All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure American company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

The accounts that most resemble real people, like Ms. Rychly, reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis.

The Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models. In most cases, the records show, they purchased their own followers. In others, their employees, agents, public relations companies, family members or friends did the buying. For just pennies each — sometimes even less — Devumi offers Twitter followers, views on YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, the music-hosting site, and endorsements on LinkedIn, the professional-networking site.

Several Devumi customers acknowledged that they bought bots because their careers had come to depend, in part, on the appearance of social media influence. “No one will take you seriously if you don’t have a noteworthy presence,” said Jason Schenker, an economist who specializes in economic forecasting and has purchased at least 260,000 followers.