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It’s one of the most successful cottage industries ever spawned by social media.

Organic in origin, it’s also the ultimate and most fundamental means of self-branding for fun and profit.

Becoming an Instagram influencer involves establishing both credibility and audience to the extent that persuading others by virtue of trustworthiness and authenticity becomes a viable commodity.

Influencers sell mentions in their posts, sometimes as actual endorsements, to promote other businesses’ products and/or sites. It’s become an effective way for these customers to increase their traffic if they do it smartly.

Like most new fields that quickly gain popularity, this one got out ahead of any sort of regulatory oversight, save for the platform itself. Thus, caveat emptor was front and center, like it is in so much of cyberspace.

This began to change in 2017, when the USA’s Federal Trade Commission got into the picture, literally. This was a good start, but like other platforms, Instagram’s data oversight left much to be desired.

Ironically, Instagram is owned by Facebook, and one could argue that it learned from Facebook’s mistakes better than Facebook did.

One of the welcome new features is account verification, which confirms to visitors that they’re viewing an authentic site.

Another measure that was just introduced today is called About This Account.

This is available through the menu button, and shows users information such as:

  • its join date,
  • a history of the account’s username changes over the preceding year,
  • the country where it’s based,
  • ads the account is running, and
  • accounts that share followers.

After a month or so, users with large audiences will be able to review their information before it becomes publicly available.

Instagram also instituted a two-factor authentication program in 2017, which has been upgraded in 2018 for an obvious reason.

Here’s Kevin Mitnick — famous felon made good — to explain why:

Knowing how to find the right influencers for your particular niche is a proven way to generate targeted traffic for your site, products, and/or services.

Instagram’s now made if more effective for you to get what you’re paying for.