social media

Firebombed Meme Accounts on Instagram

Instagram has been trying to clean up the platform in various ways, mostly removing spam accounts, but now they are targeting revenue competition on their platform. Dozens of meme accounts were recently purged from the network, with some accounts having millions of active followers. It is thought that these accounts were providing shoutouts or other sorts of promotion, where brands that are trying to grow pay for posts on these large meme accounts, usually at a better reach than what they would get paying Instagram directly.


What some smart online marketers have figured out, the algorithm by which these respective online social media networks is governed can be gamed and monetized by the users. Unlike Youtube, Instagram does not pay for users that produce content. However, account owners with huge followings, especially in a niche market, can sell space on their account for posts and shoutouts for brands that are smart enough to pay. Additionally, the reach for those meme accounts is a better cost to advertisers.

Instagram doesn’t like competition. What most users (and even marketers) forget, all the social media platforms care about is making money. They are not here for their own good will, it’s not a charity. The media outlets can impose their will at the drop of a hat, and make months or years of work developing an account go up in smoke with the click of a button. Most of the time there is little if any recourse an account owner has. We’ve seen this time and time again on YouTube, but now it’s happening at quite a large scale for Instagram.

There are ways to avoid this kind of outcome, if you happen to have an extremely large and well ranking account on any platform. Setup backup accounts that you can convert a certain percentage of your followers to. Once you’ve got a large account, getting people to subscribe to you on other platforms should also be highly regarded as good diversification. The only person I can think of who has been almost entirely banned from basically the internet is Alex Jones.

Instagram may reinstate some of these account, or they may not. The lesson is that users do not own their account on any social media platform, regardless if they produced or curated the content. Moreover, if the platform feels like an account is taking away from their revenue, the user is at risk.

United Aftermath: A Social Mob

Well, it's been an entertaining week for me and most of the internet, but maybe not the United public relations people. In case you've been living under a rock, United had a bit of an incident regarding removing a passenger from one of its flights. As many people often forget, everyone has a camera and is prepared to use it, so when the removal of one passenger went poorly, the whole world got to see it. Social media went absolutely berserk with its creativity and mob mentality. Here are some of my favorites:

There's nothing like a little "The Walking Dead" reference to get things going. 

Put your seat backs forward and your tray tables in their upright and locked position, because this little video shows a compilation of some of the more unfortunate video clips out there regarding airline customer service incidents, including our main topic. Internet Culture takes no prisoners, and this video is a perfect example of that. The last place a company or individual wants to be is staring down the barrel of a guy held by the internet. The constant and unerasable documentation that the internet provides gives commentators carte blanche ability to completely rail a brand or individual. 

The nervous anxiousness was expressed by passengers that were flying soon after. Most knew fine and well that nothing would happen to them, yet the nervousness was still present. 


Of course this gives great oppertunity for people to show their support for a competator. 

United Stock:  Source  

United Stock: Source 

One of the most damning things to come out of the United blunder was a huge selloff in their stock. To be fair, almost immediately after the selloff, the price returned to similar values as before the implosion. But, that graph looks terrible. 



United didn't seem to help themselves very early on when they began to respond to the backlash. However, after a few more hours of being utterly pummeled by the internet, the executive team got serious about what had happened. In the end, it was probably too little, too late. Once the internet digs its teeth in, the best thing do is play dead for a while. 

Something every brand should be worried about, and plan for is public relations disaster recovery. Yes, hindsight is always 20/20, but United would have been much better off not providing a response until later. A mere "we are thoroughly investigating the situation" would have done wonders. The use of the term "re-accomodation" was clearly not the best choice, either. The world is usually willing to forgive, but modesty goes a long way in showing the world that your company or personal brand is truly sorry. 

- Trey Currid