Do you know what it takes?
Spain Travel Instagrams
Credit: Toa Heftiba

Although most social media users know that what they see online isn’t all that it appears to be, very few people know just how deep the Instagram facade can go.

One travel blogger and Instagram influencer, Sara Melotti, decided to let followers know exactly what’s going down in the app with a blog post revealing the “dirty secrets” of Instagram.

“I can afford to be on the road only because I’m constantly collaborating with hotels, tour companies and brands,” Melotti wrote. “And this collaborations couldn’t be possible if I didn’t spend time building a solid portfolio and an engaged following on IG.”

Melotti traces what she considers the fall of Instagram to last year, when the social media platform changed its algorithm. No longer did posts appear in chronological order while scrolling through. Instead, users saw posts they were most likely to engage with and “like.”

Melotti said that this made bloggers and social media stars panic and start buying up followers and likes, to keep themselves at the top of everybody’s feed — and to make themselves more valuable for brands and advertisers. Other tricks included commenting on random accounts to get attention or following other users hoping for a follow back and then immediately unfollowing.

The “dark side of Instagram” is also affecting the content that users post, according to Melotti. Instagrammers are much more likely to go to a spot where other Instagrammers have posted because followers are more likely to “like” what's familiar. This not only applies to the types of places featured on Instagram but the types of shots that users post.

Some “collective accounts” — lingo for themed accounts that have built up their followings by reposting from other accounts — now charge some users a fee to be featured. One single post on their page could set an Instagrammer back up to $475, Melotti said. Instagrammers pay to be featured to get more potential followers.

Users may also set up “pods” and send their posts to 10-15 other ‘grammers to boost their engagement and make their posts more likely to be seen with the algorithm. Other times they will join what Melotti calls the “Instagram mafia” and comment on each other’s posts to boost the likelihood of their posts being seen on Instagram’s discover page.