• Being a food influencer is achieved by reposting certain content that has been mathematically selected for the masses to follow.
  • A programmer from New York has coded a fully automated bot that helps him find discounts in restaurants and cafes on Instagram.
  • Influry founder and CEO Levin Vostell explains why this example of influencing has limitations when applying it to companies and what significance humans have in the process.

What happens when a programmer from New York gets hungry? In the case of Chris Buetti, the development of a fully automated Instagram account that functioned as his personal food influencer and helped him get a free meal or two.

He succeeded in this coup through his self-programmed bot “@beautiful.newyorkcity”. In a first step, an interesting feed was established on the fully automated account, which other users were inclined to follow. This was achieved by reposting strategically selected and original content of other accounts, leading to a rapid increase in followers and therefore a broader range of the account. By means of systematic mass following, including tracing, Buetti’s bot further increased its circle of followers.

When it achieved a certain level of relevance, the bot contacted restaurants, cafés and other food stores in order to get free meals and vouchers in exchange for posts.

Nobody noticed...

The most astonishing thing about this story? It never occured to the followers or the contacted restaurants that there was no person actively in charge of the account.

Buetti explained to Buzzfeed-News that influencing no longer have has to be attached to personalities to be successful. His personal inspiration was the @FuckJerry account. This account “collects” (diplomatically phrased) the content of other users and publishes it in a bundled form under its account name. The human owner of the account has no need to go public himself.

“Legally it is questionable”

We spoke with Levin Vostell, the founder, food influencer and CEO of Influry – an influencer marketing platform and partner of HUNGRY VENTURES. Unlike the opinions quoted above, he is rather sceptical about the concept, advising caution: “Even legally, it is probably questionable whether a company can implement something like this in Germany. With larger content creators, the risks of linking up with their content are smaller, yet they would still be able to sue you.”

Influry connects companies with (human) influencers. Therefore, Vostell is very familiar with the advantages and risks of influencing. From his point of view, a human being simply cannot be replaced by an artificial intelligence. “Humans can create bonds, something that goes amiss in the interaction with bots. For example, they are not able to detect irony. Using machine influencing in the comment section could therefore backfire on companies.”

The use of bot influencing is not transferable to companies

However, he can also see advantages in the use of bots. “You can increase your reach by letting a bot like external contributions. Ultimately, the company has to ask itself how large the added value of an automated bot would be. An example would be: is it worth investing so many resources to save 700€ in advertising costs?

Buetti’s story is certainly interesting, even though it is not transferable to companies. It is unlikely that conventional influencing can be replaced by artificial intelligence in the near future, especially since the most successful content in social media has predominantly human components.

We would like to thank Levin Vostell for the interview on this topic.

Henrik Rackow Innovation

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Henrik Rackow
Managing Partner
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