The Age of the Influencer

The reach of social influencers touches almost every industry in today’s world. Followers, likes, and comments reflect on one’s importance, and how people see them. Often, large amounts of followers can garner product samples, sponsorships, endorsements, and travel opportunities for owners of popular Instagram or Facebook accounts. A New York City-based data engineer has written a lengthy article about how he created an automated Instagram account that quickly collected over 25,000 followers and now provides him with free food.

Chris Buetti, the engineer behind the Instagram account, has opened up about how he created it and how it turned into something that brings regular food offers from some of the best restaurants across New York City. While Buetti is well versed in the technical aspects of coding, Python, metadata, and all of that jazz, the moral of the story is embedded in what his ‘experiment’ tells us about our society. Buetti’s ‘influencer’ account is entirely automated—from sharing the pictures, to addressing direct messages, to following and unfollowing relevant accounts—Buetti said that he barely logs into the account himself.

The account itself shares appealing pictures of New York City with interactive captions. One of the main things to remember, Buetti said, is that interaction on a daily basis is the only way to go. He noted that this influences how often your posts are being shared to Instagram’s ‘Explore’ feed, as well as encouraging continued interaction with followers. The pictures are of skylines and excellent restaurants and always encourage audience participation. Captions along the lines of “Where is your favourite place to eat?” or “Tag us in your photos and tell us about your first coffee experience” mean that the account fosters active support.

As Buetti described, once the account reached around 20,000 followers, he began turning the account's reputation into a way of eating out. The account would automatically choose, and then message local restaurants and trade a meal for publicity. Buetti revealed that after a while of doing this, restaurants were “basically throwing gift cards and free meals” at him.

Although there are significant aspects of technicality to Buetti’s work, there is enormous potential in the Instagram ‘influencer’ market. Whether we like to admit it or not, followers and likes do seem to matter in certain situations. Buetti said that he had to start giving away his free meal offers because he was inundated with offers that he couldn’t keep up. While the Buetti’s work may seem like a nuanced idea of a job, it has worked for him, and there is no reason why it couldn’t work for anyone else. Restaurateurs should keep this in mind; Instagram and social media can, and does have an essential role in modern society.


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