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    • I think hiding likes is a great start, but it's not as impactful as hiding follower counts. If they take away showing likes, the follower count becomes even more important. As we all know, that number is easily faked (we bought 110,000 followers for the fake account in the book). People will be even more encouraged to buy fake followers for fraudulent or egotistic reasons. 

    • You mention encountering a lot of aspiring influencers in the field. As an original influencer, and one with deep relationships to other proto-influencers, do you feel there’s room to add to the influencer ranks? You mention how difficult it is to start from scratch with building a social media presence with legitimate test account @GentTravelNZ on Instagram:

      "the control account, @genttravelnz, had difficulty getting over 100 followers in the same 30 days. I even mentioned it several times from my own personal account, @treyratcliff, to try to help it catch up. Being attractive, featuring exotic settings, and even getting a genuine shoutout from a big account can all help build a following organically, but it’s not enough these days and it wasn’t enough for @genttravelnz.”

       Do you think there’s hope for people who want to build genuine presences on existing platforms nowadays? Or should they keep an eye out for new platforms like Cake and others to get that early-mover advantage?

    • Yeah, this is a good plug for Cake (unpaid, by the way!). The future is about having conversations. Look at great podcasts hosted by people like Sam Harris, Kevin Rose, Russell Brand, and so many more - these are long conversations about interesting subject matters. After you listen to these discussions, you come away with more clarity of thought and ideas. The world is inherently chaotic. Facebook and Instagram can add to that chaos and the chaos in your own mind. Conversely, platforms that allow for more erudite conversations are perfect antidotes. 

      Now, to the more pointed question of getting a significant footprint on social media. I would not worry about that so much. Take whatever you create and put it on all social media, new and old. There's nothing wrong with sharing your creations and thoughts. Engage with the right people that respond to you. You don't need millions of followers. For reference, I advise you read Kevin Kelly's "1,000 True Fans" at https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/ 

    • On page 55 you discuss the possibility of buying Instagram Story Views, among other things that people may be more aware of, like buying followers, likes, or comments. Was there anything that you discovered that surprised you while writing about the possibilities of artificially “enhancing” one’s social media growth? 

    • I was surprised by how anything can be purchased, included Linked In connections. What kind of loser would do that? I also found it a bit depressing to not be able to believe in numbers and statistics around these things. My background is Computer Science and Math, so I've always believed in numbers. And now, when I see a number attached to a brand or a person, I just don't trust it. It bothers me that so may people DO believe in these numbers. 

    • Prior to reading your book, I was unfamiliar with Buzzfeed’s piece on Instagram “pods”:

      Groups that encourage liking of member posts to artificially boost engagement. You bring up Joseph Harper as one brand marketer who’s taking a stand against artificial metrics. Do you feel there will be others to follow?

    • I doubt it. There are not enough Joseph Harpers in the world. It takes a lot of time and deep dives to unravel the and surreptitious activity. Most marketing departments just want big numbers so they can make nice Powerpoints to show the boss. I know one thing for sure: The boss wants the truth. If the numbers are bad then you can make course corrections. But if you don't get the right data, you're gonna hit an iceberg. No one wants to see Jack sink again while Rose cries. 

    • On page 75, you mention “Secret Giveaways” but those aren’t referenced elsewhere in the book - can you share more context on what those are?

    • This was a reference to one of many methods used by Influencers to gain followers. There are a few Influencers exposed in the book as well as their various tricks. People sometimes offer an amazing "Secret Giveaway" just to get followers. It's secret because nobody every finds out who wins. In many cases, there's no giveaway at all. That's the real secret. 

    • On page 85, you mention “digital human” generators as a source of profile pics for bot accounts. We’ve written about digital humans here on Cake before; 

      Do you think that this type of technology, as it continues to advance, will render even more murky the influencer market with things like Lil Miquela?

    • Yes. It's about to get weird out there with completely artificial Influencers. The best AI Influencers will be those that are good storytellers. Being digitally attractive will get you a long way, but, as we all know from movies and TV, the stories are what really matter. It's difficult for an AI-created human to have a believable story, but we all know it's possible from seeing Pixar movies. 

    • On page 166, you suggest that Instagram “cut out” the middleman of agencies by offering to broker influencer relationships directly. With all the updates being announced for the platform, do you think this may be one of them?

    • I don't know. I think my suggestion in the book is quite brilliant, if I do say so myself. Instagram should absolutely be the middleman and broker deals between brands and Influencers. Last year, there were over 400 new agencies created to broker deals. Most of them are total frauds, started by fraudulent influencers. Brands don't know who to trust. I've worked with brands who have recommended the most ludicrous fake Influencers to join me at events. They just trust these agencies and don't have time to do the research themselves.

      That said, Instagram may be just as bad as the agencies unless they go through and clean out the gunk. There are a lot of bad actors in the system now with fake numbers. No brand should trust any Influencer until they do their own deep dive. We have credit background checks, criminal background checks, etc... but there are no Influencer background checks because all the data remains a mystery behind the Instagram wall. 

    • Oh, just have fun. I'd love it to be like Cake. Just have a conversation about what's going on and how this space is changing every week. 

    • Tough question. I deal with this with my 10 and 13 year old girls. I suppose that I advise to follow my lead! I tell the girls they are beautiful and awesome every day. I show them that beauty has very little to do with what you look like and it's on the inside. I try to get them to go on walks... play a lot of board games... basically anything I can do to get them from looking at screens all day. I don't want to keep them off social media or Youtube or whatever all day. That's unrealistic. I just try to keep them somewhat balanced. 

    • You touch on many different kinds of selfies in the book: whether it’s dangerous selfies or ridiculous selfies, “look at my amazing life” selfies or “selfie zones,” friendsies or groupies - it seems like the key takeaway you have for readers is to be present in the moment, and that the most meaningful experiences are those where you’re present to enjoy them and not pursuing the “perfect shot” at the cost of your safety or wellbeing. With the Instagram Aesthetic changing, do you think we’ll see more of the non-selfie posting on social media, and more people exploring different aesthetics? 

    • No. I don't think that article is accurate. It's one of many articles that is a bit click-baity. Research shows that putting your face in a photo garners 30% more likes. Now, personally, I don't do that. But other people are encouraged to do this because of the public scoreboard of likes, comments, and followers. Also, it's basic human behavior to respond more favorably to human faces than other things like trees or cars. 

    • On page 236, the shot you used of people lining up to take a selfie at the top of the mountain reminded me of this recent NYTimes article about the “Everest traffic jam” --

      Or the environmental degradation seen as a result of people wanting to take selfies in the California Poppy superbloom of this past spring. 

      Do you think that there’s a responsibility to change people’s approach to photography to save landmarks and cities from too much impact?

    • The core problem is the ego. This takes a lot of self-work to release this rather deleterious feature of the human psyche. The ego says that it is more important to show a photo of myself in poppies than to protect the poppies. I think if everyone on earth did an Ayahuasca ceremony (or DMT) then they would see how everything is connected and how silly the ego is. 

    • This book brought up some really interesting ideas like Yuval Noah Harari’s train technology metaphor, or the “Beats” system of measuring time. Were there ideas you wanted to touch on in the book but had to save for future forays? 

    • Oh man. I wanted to go off on so many anthropological tangents, but I didn't. I have a book list at https://kit.com/TreyRatcliff/books that I recommend. Besides Yuval's books, I also recommend Matt Ridley's and so many more. I don't think I'll write another book. It takes so much time. I'm busy taking photos and stuff! :) 

    • You discuss Google+, and your own personal vision for a social network. Do you feel there are any social networks that mesh well with your vision currently? Or is this something that still needs to be seen?