Under the Influence

Trey Ratcliff


The book’s subtitle is “How to Fake Your Way into Getting Rich on Instagram,” and it’s a fascinating exposé of a side of the network (Follow me on Instagram! Actually, don’t. I’m mostly on Pixelfed these days.) that I’ve mostly ignored.

I’ve known the high-rolling “influencer” side of Instagram is out there, but for the most part, I’ve tuned it out by following only friends and people whose photos I find interesting (including the author, which was how I found out about this book), rather than following personalities.

The book covers three main topics:

  • How and why people game the system on attention-based social networks, using Instagram as a case study.
  • How attention-based social media games your brain.
  • Ways to keep yourself in control of your social media experience.

I’ve read a lot about the second and third topics, so that part was mostly familiar to me, though I expect it will be more interesting (and helpful) to other readers.

The first topic - which is basically the hook to get people looking at the rest of it - proved to be very eye-opening as it describes the sheer amount of product placement and sponsorship going on, the lengths people will go to in order to make it look like they have a bigger audience than they do so they can get the deals, and the various techniques used to get around fraud detection.

Available through the author’s site at Stuck in Customs.