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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

One company tricked people into swiping an Instagram ad – creative or unethical?

(MARKETING) An Instagram ad is pretty clever and tricked many people into swiping, but will it work for your brand?

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tricky advertisement instagram ad

As ads become increasingly taboo, advertisers are forced to come up with sneakier, more obnoxious ways to trick people into viewing their content, especially as the cost for them to advertise rises. While plenty of advertising techniques fit the bill, a Chinese shoe company’s strategy might just take the cake for trickiest ad of all time.

The Instagram ad itself is innocuous enough at first glance: it features a picture of a sneaker with a discounted price, along with a “Shop Now” swipe-up prompt at the bottom of the ad. What makes it so friggin’ devious is an image of a hair laid on top of the whole image. The obvious intent here is to encourage the viewer to try to brush away the hair, thus inadvertently swiping up the Instagram ad and viewing its content.

Regardless of who you are or what you’ve been through in life, you have to admit that this is objectively hilarious.

The intent behind the ad is a bit confusing, though. One of the main points of advertising is to get people on your page – a goal that this ad technically meets – but the last type of person that you want on your page is a disgruntled, embarrassed, and most likely furious consumer who can’t believe that they got bamboozled. That kind of traffic doesn’t exactly lend itself to positive growth and customer satisfaction, which should be the end goal of premiere advertising.

Putting aside the inherent ridiculousness of this situation, there’s a lesson to be learned here: advertising, no matter how socially unappreciated it is, is still an art form, but modern proficiency in it is much less about duping your audience than it has been in the past.

Instead, successful ads are creating positive customer engagement and facilitating conversation – and a fake hair over a picture of discounted sneakers doesn’t really meet that goal.

If you’re looking for some resolution from this story, Instagram noted that the ad was taken down and the company in question was banned from advertising on Instagram in the future, which you can take as empirical proof that devious advertising is falling out of favor.

Then again, we just spent an entire piece giving the company free exposure, so who knows?

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Real Estate Marketing

Quokka: Retargeting ads for people who ignored your email

(MARKETING) A new startup named after our favorite animal amplifies your ad efforts even after being ignored. Sweet!

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quokka

Potential customers who ignore your emails just aren’t the obstacle that they used to be. If you’re tired of sending out countless emails and receiving nothing in response, Quokka’s ad retargeting service may be the solution for you.

Aside from having the objectively cutest animal of all time as their namesake, Quokka allows you to follow up with people who don’t respond to your initial emails. Instead of firing off an additional email, however, Quokka’s response is a bit subtler: it shows retargeting ads to the offending customer. This method gives your product or service a second chance without giving the customer the opportunity to bin your follow-up email sans a read.

Quokka also provides you with statistics regarding how many emails were sent out, how many were opened, and how many customers are available for retargeting based on those numbers. This information is provided on an email-by-email basis in their easy-to-use interface.

Once you’ve allowed a certain amount of time to pass, you can plug your mailing list into Quokka and select a platform on which you want to display the retargeting ads. Quokka will determine who on your mailing list didn’t open the email and then show them your ad on your selected platform (e.g., Facebook). While social media ads haven’t been faring particularly well as of late, we may see Quokka find its niche in other marketing venues.

As it sits, Quokka plugs into your Facebook, MailChimp, and Campaign Monitor services. Based on comments from the platform’s founder, Quokka’s future includes additional integration with existing marketing platforms. Ideally, Quokka will eventually be usable with the bulk of mailing services and marketing automation, but getting the app to that point will undoubtedly take some time.

2018 marketing practices already look like they’re going to have to evolve away from some of the pre-established paradigms, and Quokka appears to be one appropriate answer to the underlying “How?” question here. As customers become more suspicious of ads in their inboxes and ad-blocking software use continues to grow, services such as Quokka may be viable solutions for those hoping to reach the most stubborn demographic.

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Real Estate Marketing

Boatloads of webinars, resources to kickstart your 2018 sales goals

(MARKETING) RPR has unleashed a ton of resources to make sure 2018 is your best sales year yet – and you’ve already paid for it, so take advantage.

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rpr resources for sales goals

Most professionals are setting sales goals for 2018, and are seeking the resources to help get them there. Realtors most certainly are with the changes in the market for more homes to sell, more millennials possibly ready to buy, and most certainly tax reform changes to the game.

Fortunately, if you’re feeling a lack of inspiration to determine how you’re going to reach those goals – Realtors Property Resource (RPR) is putting together a few webinars to help you work smarter and pick up a few new tricks.

While of course, the highlight of the trainings focus on the use of RPR mobile app, they should promise to offer important information. The 4 Part series “4 Steps to Real Estate Success with RPR Mobile” for example, focuses on capturing leads, better communicate information in a listing, capturing open house leads, and improving the buyer tour experience. That series begins on February 21st, and continues weekly for a month.

Realtors unfamiliar with RPR should know that the app is included in National Association of Realtors (NAR) dues, and if you don’t know about it, your first webinar should be focused on getting to know the app, and see how it can help support your business by locating information. That particular webinar can be found here.

Additional topics focus on things from perfect pricing, pre-listing checklist, reigning in buyers, and creating relocation packets – all things that can be done to help facilitate a smoother selling process and help get you more results easier.

This particularly packet of resources should be useful to both realtors who aren’t familiar with the RPR tools, but also maybe the user who hasn’t leveraged the resource quite to its full extent. Most webinars are offered at least 2-3 times, so there are plenty of opportunities to attend a session. RPR also has a number of other resources including articles, social media information, graphics, and handouts for member use. Of particular place for inspiration is the Realtor case studies, where app skeptics may see how the use of RPR can apply to their real world realtor-ing.

Ultimately, this is just one of many possible resources, but if you’re looking to try a few new things to kickstart your sales in 2018, and are looking for tools to help you reach more lofty goals, some free education (that you already paid for, NAR members!), this is a great head start.

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