By Brian Henry
Restaurants in Manhattan are expensive, unless you're an influencer.
Data scientist, Chris Buetti, realized that he could score some free meals just by posting about his dining experience on his Instagram ー but only if he had enough followers to earn "influencer" status. The problem was that being an influencer is a full-time job. The solution? Automation.
"I had a job, I didn't have time to sit there and find pictures and post on Instagram and interact and all that stuff. Little by little, since I had that background, I was automating the content creation process," he said. "I kind of created it from A to Z, perfected it, and then opened up a bunch of Instagram accounts where I kind of just deployed my code and sat back and let it do the work."
"It's growing on its own. It's got all real followers," he said.
While Buetti doesn't take any of the photos on his accounts, the automation does give photographers credit in the reposts.
Buetti's @beautiful.newyorkcity account currently boasts over 25,0000 followers. Restaurants were quick to take note, offering free and discounted meals. That was the only time he had to physically post his own content.
"After I actually ate at the restaurant I had to post, but besides eating and posting my review that's all I had to do. It was my own review and it was a combination of pictures I took and ones that the restaurants wanted to provide to me. I was pretty lenient on whatever they wanted me to say or post. Sometimes they wanted to give me pictures, sometimes I posted my own. I was very open to whatever they needed."
Buetti says his skill-set made it simple to navigate the social platform's application programming interface. He said the automation allowed him to manage hundreds of Instagram accounts at one point.
"I get rid of them, I delete some, I make some more, I give some away. Instagram actually puts out an API that allows someone to like or post or message someone. There's documentation on their website, it's all provided by Instagram right there. I went on Instagram developers API."
While there isn't a person behind the content being shared on @beautiful.newyorkcity, Buetti stressed to Cheddar that the followers on that account and the others that he operates are real.
"I don't go out to some shady website and buy X amount of followers for whatever price. I interact with people who are interacting with similar accounts to get them to follow me back," he said, adding that only real followers are of value to an influencer. "If they were fake and not real followers, it wouldn't really do anything for me."
So does the future of the influencer lie in automation?
"I think it breaks down into two different groups," he said. While some accounts revolve around an influencer's personal content, others are more impersonal.
"One of my favorite accounts on Instagram is one that replays sports highlights," he said. "I go on there, I watch the Knicks, I watch the best dunk in the NBA. I don't care if it's a human being putting the sports highlight up there. I just want to see the highlight."
For full interview click here.