Ms. Olea insisted her company does not use this type of software. “The problem is they’re not safe. We implement the same strategy, but in a manual format so that Instagram doesn’t flag it because that’s technically against terms and guidelines,” she said, adding: “How would Seal feel if I got his account deleted?”
When software providers have contacted Ms. Olea in the past, she has turned them away; their services, she said, not only defy Instagram’s policies but also make her job much more difficult. She is concerned that as Instagram begins to crack down on automated software, companies like hers could be punished and her celebrity accounts banned.
Mass Poller’s low prices have also forced her to justify the higher cost of Social Light to her clients. According to Ms. Olea, there’s simply no comparison: “It’s like Starbucks over McDonald’s coffee.”
The strategy may be working. Lauren McKenzie, a business analyst from Surprise, Ariz., said that she wasn’t following Seal, “but I noticed him watching one of my Stories and ended up following him after. Then, he would just continuously and randomly pop up along with a chunk of other musicians.”
“My initial reaction was absolute shock, glee and excitement,” she said. “I’m 35. He’s definitely a significant chunk of my childhood and young adulthood. He’s always seemed like the nicest, most chill guy. I’m very honored.”
Others, like Christina Cacouris, a 25-year-old writer and curator in Brooklyn, have been less impressed. “The first time I saw Seal pop up on my Instagram Story was around mid-March,” she said. “I was at the beach and posted a little video of dogs, and he opened it. I thought, weird, but OK.”