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I've been playing the game for the past six months, and it made me miserable, miserable guys,' she said.
'I think it's time to stop the bulls**t and come clean and tell you exactly what's happening.
With time some of the people in these pods became friends and we met each other around the world in real life.'This then progressed into what Ms Melotti calls 'a little Instagram mafia' – the 'most well kept, dirty little secret of us Instagrammers'.
According to Ms Melotti, the secret to tricking the algorithm is all about getting high engagement (likes and comments) within the first 30 – 45 minutes of uploading an image – and it works even better if the accounts are 'big'.'Most likely that picture will end up in the explorer page, it will be seen by tens of thousands of people and it will get THOUSANDS of likes,' she said.
To do so, they are paying for all kinds of weird and wonderful services to falsify their online fame – whether it's paying as little as for 100 new followers or hundreds or thousands of dollars for followers and likes from websites and 'robots' that offer them.'I was never able to go this far luckily but I witnessed so many people shamelessly do this from the very beginning across all industries! Others choose to follow/unfollow, like or comment on random pages to get their attention or pay someone to do it all for them – both things Ms Melotti has been guilty of over the past six months.'Over the last year websites like Instagress and Archie [bots to comment for users] started popping up like mushrooms and a lot of us, desperate to get their engagement back on track started using them,' she said.'I did.
We prepare and construct our pages it's not real life for any of us...Instagram spots: These pictures of Ms Melotti's were all taken at 'Instagram spots' - popular areas that people take photos in because they get more likes (pictured L-R is Bali, Antelope Canyon and the Taj Mahal)'The advertising world is shifting and we (influencers) are now basically walking billboards for brands and companies because through us they can reach consumers (our followers) in a much more genuine and effective way,' Ms Melotti said.'I can afford to be on the road only because I'm constantly collaborating with hotels, tour companies and brands.And these collaborations couldn't be possible if I didn't spend time building a solid portfolio and an engaged following on IG.' Most of the companies who pay for posts, says Ms Melotti, are completely unaware that the numbers they're seeing on some pages are 'incredibly inflated' due to the 'tricks and shenanigans' pulled to play the system.'Large groups of small and big influencers (or whatever you want to call us), feeling threatened by the rumours of Instagram being on to pods, got organised,' she said.'They brought their pods out of Instagram and transferred them to Whatsapp and Facebook group chats.' But these are mostly 'one time likes' as the people who liked the photo aren't 'real followers'.'That doesn't matter because now you look like the cool guy with the highest engagement ever (even if you didn't earn it), and you can trick brands into hiring you because you have the numbers! The amount of time people are investing in playing these tricks is scary, this time could be used to work on our art, on our happiness, or on just f*****g living real life for f**k sake!' She said.'People are blinded by the mirage of Insta-fame.