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Instagram is letting users pay for one of their most sought features

(MARKETING NEWS) Instagram is letting user pay for one of their most prized features. Can you say sketchy?

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Verification for sale

The “verified” checkmark that one finds next to the names of celebrities and public officials has become synonymous with trust. In a time of parody accounts and identity theft, it’s refreshing to know that you can look for that little blue mark and know that the profile you’re viewing is certified legit.

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So it’d be a damn shame if you were to find out that someone like, say, Instagram was allowing for the sale of verification rather than using a vetting system to ensure that those little verified checkmarks appear next to the correct names…wouldn’t it?

Check, Please

The little blue verification check is more than just a symbol of social media prowess. The perks for verification vary depending on the platform; for example, Instagram’s perks include things like higher search rankings and free promotion.

Naturally, this can create a bit of a sense of urgency for up-and-coming brands, figures, and companies that are just legitimate enough to merit a following, but (allegedly) not prestigious enough to earn the verified check mark.

The kicker is that, unlike on Twitter, one cannot request verification on Instagram—you must personally be invited to the cool kids’ club.

Pay to Play

As with any market ever, demand begets supply. In this case, however, the “supply” happens to be a black-market endeavor to purchase and sell those verified check marks for anywhere from three to five figures.

In Instagram’s case, the exclusivity of invite-only verification is exceptionally tantalizing for some, leading the average price to land far higher than pay-for-verification services on other social media accounts.

While Instagram’s official policy prohibits this kind of behavior (because of course it does), the frequency with which accounts are illegally verified is low enough that they seem to be treating it like it’s a non-issue.

Predictable Offense

Ultimately, though, paid verification is a dangerous precedent to set insofar as it gives people with money and the right circumstances an advantage over those hard-working brands that objectively deserve verification more than those paying for it—much like literally any other context in real life.

The bottom line is this: of course Instagram has a black market that sells something coveted and borderline unattainable, and of course people are going crazy for it. That’ll be the case in any market for as long as demand is a thing.

With that said, the next time you see that little blue check mark next to someone’s name on social media, treat it with a moderate dose of skepticism.

#PayToPlay

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Real Estate Marketing

LinkTree is one of many tools you need for social media marketing

(MARKETING NEWS) When it comes to social media marketing, there are ways to get more coverage than just your feed — linktree is one of them.

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If you’re a marketer, especially in any sort of lifestyle or cultural space, the benefits of Instagram are undeniable. From its visual format to its fast-growing user base, Instagram is becoming a go-to visual media platform in an era where audiences are eager for it.

There’s just one problem; turning that attention into engagement is difficult. Links back to stories can only be shared in your profile bio, instead of within specific posts. For content marketers and publishers, changing out links at least once a day can be a hassle.

Thankfully, there are tools out there to help overcome these issues, no matter what your budget might be. We can look at LinkTree and LikeShop for two distinct examples of that range.

Both tools offer a standalone web page, with its own URL, where users can access an assortment of articles from a publisher. Each article is linked using a picture that a user would see on the publisher’s Instagram, and the user can access a historical archive of all articles in one place.

Best of all, you never have to change out a link in your profile; much like a custom URL shortener, your users can access the content you want them to see through one single URL.

Logistical benefits aside, publishers also enjoy data feedback through LikeShop and LinkTree. Depending on the tool used, you can see traffic numbers broken down by article, by day, etc.

These tools also allow you to customize the visuals and templates of your landing page, so that your brand experience is more consistent across these social media touch points.

LikeShop has been around for a while as an enterprise solution.

You can find its technology employed by Conde Nast publishers, such as Pitchfork and Vanity Fair, along with a host of others. As such, pricing isn’t openly disclosed, either on or off their website (that’s code for “it’s probably really expensive”).

However, it does have the most features of the two solutions. Mainly, Instagram publishers who push product can insert commercial links directly into their posts, to help increase conversions.

LinkTree is a newcomer to the game, and they are looking to bring a more affordable solution to market. In addition to offering a standalone free tier of service, they also offer a pro package for $6 per month. The pro plan gives you more customization and tracking options.

Whichever one works for you, these tools are a great investment for making your social media following engage with your website content, be it educational or commercial.

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Real Estate Marketing

Be your own hero, make your own dang animated gif

(MARKETING NEWS) Oh, the ubiquitousness of gifs! People love them, and let’s face it: gifs sell. Why not make your own?

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A gif for any occasion

Oh, the ubiquitousness of gifs! Who knew that in just a handful of seconds you could have a moving image ready to convey the perfect situational response or reaction. There’s something so fun and memorable about using gifs to express yourself. Next time you’re ready to sling a celebratory gif to your sister after hearing about her promotion, or a pizza gif to your family and friends to indicate your Friday night dinner plans, why not consider making your own gif?

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Don’t let pop culture speak for you

With gifs.com, you can take your self-made content and tailor it to be the gif that’s perfect for you! The possibilities are almost endless: You can use a gif to share the latest developments in a product you’re working on, or for more personal ends. Maybe you’d like to share your latest cooking experiment, or a few steps of a walk you took on a particularly beautiful winter day.

Grab a link to content from your YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – or simply upload a video from your own computer. Adjust the timing of your gif, add any effect you want (including this amazing Deal With It effect) and then create your gif.

But pop culture can speak for us too…

You can also use Gifs.com to create custom gifs from already well-known content. Sometimes, our favorite TV characters, star athletes, YouTubers or musicians can express something for us better than we ever could ourselves, and all the gif digging in the world won’t find us the exact image we’re looking for. There’s nothing wrong getting an assist from a reliable character!

You can upload content from your computer if you have something saved, but you can also grab content from almost any social site on the internet.

Those little extras never hurt

Gifs.com allows you to customize your gif’s link. This means that if you create something destined for meme-worthiness, you can link back to your own site and drive traffic on your blog or online store.

You’ll also have the ability to add stickers, text, and effects that will take your gif creation to the next level.

Considering this service is free, it almost seems wrong not to share your Gifs creations far and wide!

#GifMaster

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Real Estate Marketing

Refocusing your marketing strategy from millennials to Gen Z

(MARKETING NEWS) Gen Z will have more purchasing power, and be more prone to spending than the generations before them, and will be at a homebuying age before you know it – time to adapt.

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Time to refocus

Research on Gen Z is increasing as they graduate and enter the workforce. The biggest misconception is that they are just another kind of millennial. In fact, they are similar to the generation raised during the Great Depression.

And while they might share dependence on technology and short attention spans with the millennial crowd, some trends in Gen Z are remarkably different. This just might include their views on homeownership and the American Dream – while millennials seemed to have overwhelmingly rejected these things, Gen Z might be surprisingly traditional. We will be keeping an eye on them as they begin to enter adulthood. For now, your marketing strategies will need to be adjusted accordingly.

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Trying to get Gen Z on the phone?

Unlike millennials, Gen Z does not prefer all the digital interactions available. They are more likely to use click-to-call features, especially after texting or chatting first.

Once on the phone, though, the Gen Z cohort is more likely to hang up quickly, curse at the person on the line, or be frustrated if there is no immediate answer.

In a world where there are several avenues of communication with a company, Gen Z seems to want a more personal touch.

But they are more impatient about waiting for it.

Why does it matter?

This impatience and short attention span are tied to Generation Z being the most plugged in group, like, ever. “Gen Z consumers can be speaking to a customer agent, research everything that agent is saying and simultaneously tweet about how great or awful their experience is,” Sabrina Gravlee, Analytics Manager at the Marchex Institute.

Millennials, who prefer to make even large purchases digitally without any face-to-face or phone contact, got a lot of people thinking that was a trend that would change everything, and permanently. No car lots, no cashiers, no person-to-person selling. And that still might happen. But the Gen Z research suggests that a balance might be struck finally.

Perhaps the millennials were the opposite end of the pendulum from their baby boomer parents, and now we are back in the middle ground.

Marketing strategies on fleek

In any case, businesses would be wise to consider a hybrid approach as Generation Z becomes a bigger part of their consumer bases.

Some sources predict that they will have more purchasing power, and be more prone to spending than the generations before them.

“The faster businesses can understand the patterns and preferences of Generation Z, the faster they can gain footing with this next wave of consumer growth and ensure their own success.” say Gravlee.

Companies who adapt quickly to their youngest potential customers will be ahead of the game as we see Gen Z grow into their consumer status.

See the full report here.

#GenZ

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