If you are like me, you may find Instagram a little confusing. Not so much with regards to how the app itself works, but more on how a photo of an egg can beat out Kylie Jenner. Trey’s new book “Under the Influence – How to Fake Your Way into Getting Rich on Instagram: Influencer Fraud, Selfies, Anxiety, Ego, and Mass Delusional Behavior” dives deep into the dark areas of Instagram fame and then pulls back the curtain for us all to see.
The only way that I can describe the kind of truth that Trey’s book details is that it makes Instagram look like what a nightclub looks like on a Sunday morning when the cleaning crew arrives. That hot and happening place now is a grungy space with a sticky floor. The new days light shows that the amazing people might not be who you thought they were as they stagger back home.
This book is probably best described by the fine people over on Trey’s website as they say that you “Go on a deep dive into the social media black market and explore its harmful psychological effects with Trey Ratcliff, a social media insider who has accrued over 5 million followers (170K on Instagram) the honest way. Take a trip through the behind-the-scenes economics of social media, learn how to spot fake accounts, and discover how it’s possible to stay zen on the Internet – without needing to unplug completely.” Which is the nuts and bolts of the book. You can get more information here.
So What Does This Have To Do With Photography?
I am not a young and hip person. Even when I was young, I certainly was not hip or remotely cool. However, that is who you compete with on instagram. Those young beautiful people who can take a picture of themselves with their arms in the air in the middle of Seoul and get a million likes. Your painstakingly detailed, focus-stacked, panorama of the Seoul skyline never gets more than a handful of likes. Why is that?
This is the meat of Trey’s book. He shows, with that cold greenish convenience store light, exactly how people fake their way to the top. Not only that, he actually created a new profile to test it.
The reason that this is important for photographers is that if you are into travel photography or live in a touristy area and are shooting landscapes, cityscapes, lifestyle shots, these fake influencers are your competition. It doesn’t sound like much but if you are trying to get your name out there, instagram is everything these days.
Furthermore, Instagram is the largest photography platform in existence. Years ago, we scoffed at the idea of having an instagram page. Now, it is a necessity and with so many fake accounts becoming influencers, it is difficult to make an honest go at it.
So The Book is About a Bitter Photographer Complaining About Young People?
NO. The book is a well researched look into how people are gaming the Instagram system to get money, vacations and much more from companies who think that they are paying for a bonafide influencer. It shows the techniques that many Insta-famous accounts are using to fake their way to the top.
If you have ever heard of Trey Ratcliff, then you would know that he is far from bitter and the final chapters of the book (also in the video above), he talks about how to stay sane and “zen” in this world of social media obsession. These are key factors for photographers who are constantly comparing themselves to other photographers and sometimes even eggs. Our value, at times, comes from our work and if our work does not get the likes that we hope for, then we feel like failures. Trey helps alleviate that stress with some techniques laid out in his book..
What you will find here is deep look in how instagram works, how people are playing the system and also the effects that it has on the people who use the app daily. All in all, it is a timely book on how the app is used and abused. I found it particularly helpful with that ever nagging sense of failure.
So is it Good?
YES. This was a great read. Trey’s easy-going attitude permeates the entire book along with a heavy dose of well-researched information and a side of actual knowledge from creating a fake account to test all of the tricks.
So keep that in mind, I saw a lot of people scoff at the idea of this book and say that you could find the information on google or that it was repetitive. Reading through Trey’s book, I saw a lot of hard work put into to teasing out the issues with one of the world’s largest social media platforms. I was sort of expecting a long diatribe of whimsical stories about life and burning man. However, what I got was a hard-hitting book about everything that is wrong with this new way of marketing. It was full of actual data and insight into how these fake influencers work.
It is an easy and humorous read at times. Trey kept it light just when you need it too. If you have ever taken a tutorial from Trey, you will have no doubt noticed his Texas swagger a bit. It comes out in his writing as well. This makes for an informative and entertaining read.
The bottomline is that there are people who are always going to be looking for an easy way to become rich. Becoming an influencer is one of the easiest. This book serves as a warning for those looking to invest in an influencer and it also serves to show the everyday photographer that an egg is just an egg with a lot of bots behind it.
If that doesn’t help, check out this recent expose that echoes Trey’s book and really backs up a lot of what he said.