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Using Proxies to Market on Instagram

If you’d got into some serious marketing on Instagram two or three years ago, chances are you’d have made quite a bit of money.  As long as you’d done it right, as we all know it’s also very, very easy to waste time and money on any sort of online marketing.  Yet those who really cracked it made serious amounts of money, running literally thousands of accounts with even more followers.  Briefly there it was the online money making paradise, yes Instagram was that great – huge number of users and very little policing of online marketers.

 

Of course, that changed pretty much as soon as I started with the platform!  After noticing that none of the people under 30 seemed to be using Facebook anymore, I discovered one of the sites they were using was Instagram.   It started out as a photo  sharing site and has developed into a fully fledged social network. What’s more it’s perfect for promoting businesses, products and services through images and videos.   There’s no real surprise that it was briefly a real gold mine for online entrepreneurs.

Indeed it still is to some extent but there’s one aspect which has got much, much harder for Instagram marketers – the ability to grow your accounts.  To be more specific, it’s really the ability to artificially both grow accounts and manage multiple Instagram profiles too.   It was very simple, there were only the most basic IP address checks which were easily circumvented.  Plenty of people I know were managed dozens of really large accounts with very little thought and effort with regards hiding their tracks.

That’s all changed now and you have to be very, very careful if you’re trying to build multiple accounts on Instagram now.  Using a basic multi-homed proxy server with a couple of IP addresses isn’t going to hack it anymore.    Instagram have seriously upped their game to block marketing companies and agencies who operate any sort of self promotion on their platform.  There are several aspects now to Instagram marketing but probably the most crucial is which proxies you use.

For most purposes proxies with basic off the shelf datacentre IP addresses are not going to work anymore.   This is unfortunate as they are the easiest and cheapest to obtain.  Most marketers now who use Instagram on any scale,  use proxies with residential addresses and you still have to be careful.   Loading up an Instagram Bot Free trial with a fifty accounts and using a couple of residential IP addresses isn’t going to work either.  You may get away with it for a little while, following and liking other peoples photos but if you try posting you’ll get actions blocks and your account banned very quickly.

The ratios change all the time, but current testing seems to suggest that anything above a one to one ratio isn’t going to work out well.  That means that one residential IP address per one Instagram account, which is unfortunately quite an expensive resource.   If you’re going to use any sort of Bot or Instagram marketing tool like Jarvee for instance then you’ll need to load up the software with proxies before you start.   It’s especially important when posting or creating accounts, and aggressive spamming on Instagram doesn’t work in any circumstances any more.

There are other considerations when choosing the right proxies and it’s worth just being aware of them.  Some people are tempted to use rotating proxies because they help lower the cost of buying large amounts of residential IP addresses.   The  problem with this is that it does’t look natural especially if the addresses are registered in vastly different locales.  Imagine that you post an item on a European IP address, two minutes later your account follows a few people while connected via a New York based address – does that look natural to you? It’s unlikely to work, also you have to be careful that these IP addresses are not shared concurrently with thousands of users.  The problem is that it would be likely that some of them would be using Instagram too – which would be a huge red flag on your accounts.

It’s debatable now if all the time, effort and expense is really worth it on Instagram at the moment.   Some marketers have figured out options that make it feasible, some for example are only using 4G IP addresses which seem to be much more forgiving.  There is a certain expectation that mobile users IP addresses will change more often which is of course the case.  Again finding an inexpensive source of these addresses is difficult though so you need high value Instagram accounts.

The reality is that Instagram know they can’t stop all marketers without actually blocking real users.  However what their intention is to to make it so difficult and expensive that few people bother, which seems to be happening.

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What is a Residential Proxy and Why Would I Need one?

Many of us use proxies, in fact if you have internet access at work or college it’s almost guaranteed.  A proxy server is an intermediate server that sits between a client and website or application, forwarding and receiving data.  The primary function in a corporate network is to provide a central gateway for accessing things like internet access.  If all web requests are relayed through a single point it’s much easier to protect and administer than hundreds of individual connections.

Out in the internet though proxies have more distinct roles,  primarily being used to provide anonymity and bypass the various online filters and blocks that are increasingly common.   The basic idea is that if you route your internet requests through a proxy server then the site you visit has no record of your IP address. Furthermore any regional blocks which are applied, such as media sites like the BBC, can be bypassed by using a proxy in the required country.

residential proxy

Proxies are also used for supporting all sorts of automated software which people use all the time.  Programs which do research, internet marketing tools and a whole host of other automated programs which require multiple connections.  The problem is that if you use these tools with a single IP address it will usually get blocked or blacklisted very quickly hence the need for proxies.

What’s Different about a Residential Proxy?

There’s actually only one significant difference between an ordinary proxy and a residential one and that’s the IP addresses it is assigned. Your standard proxy will be allocated IP addresses from a commercial or educational range, especially if it’s based in a datacentre or educational centre. However these ranges are very often blocked by commercial websites automatically. For example in 2016, Netflix started to block access to all non-residential IP addresses in attempt to stop people switching between the different versions by using proxies and VPNs.

All IP addresses are classified in this way, and residential addresses are normally only allocated by ISPs to home users. So a residential proxy is basically a normal proxy server which has been allocated residential IP addresses. This is the reason they are generally much rarer and can cost quite a lot as the addresses are extremely difficult to obtain.  The advantage is that residential proxies are very difficult to detect and are unlikely to be blocked if used properly.

Indeed, the only way a residential proxy is normally blocked is if an individual address is overused.  Normally you buy residential IPs in large blocks as one or two is not going to get you very far with any sort of automation.

They are very much in demand, and it can be quite difficult to find residential proxies for sale. Mainly because there are so many different uses although if you’re just after one address to use to access something like Netflix then you’ll be better off with one of the residential VPNs which are available.  If you’re running things like Sneaker or Ticket Bots, SEO tools, Social media posters or research programs then you’re going to need a block of addresses to rotate through automatically.   The safest method to protect these expensive IP addresses though is to use them through a backconnect proxy which rotates through different servers and configurations automatically.

If you’re looking for a decent source of these residential rotating proxies then there’s actually only a limited choice.  One of the main options you might find is something called the Illuminati network, be careful with this as these ‘proxies’ are merely computers where people have installed a free version of a VPN system called Hola. Many of these individuals have simply not read the terms and conditions and will be unaware that their bandwidth is being resold!   There are a couple of more legitimate residential IP provider companies however.

The company who has the largest residential address network run on their own hardware is below, they know exactly how to create a residential proxy and how to keep them safe. Whatever your budget or requirements for private residential proxies you should find something to suit your need with them Most importantly they have a 48 hour refund guarantee if you want to try them out, they do honor it.

Click here to try Storm

 

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Change to Italian IP Address From Anywhere

Most of the really popular region locked content is based on USA and UK servers, so people are usually searching for British and US IP addresses.  However in just about every country you’ll find popular web sites which are restricted to the domestic market.   For example in Italy there’s a fantastic broadcaster called RAI who broadcast most of their material on a website called RaiPlay which has several channels.

Italian IP Address

Unfortunately, as mentioned Rai is limited to the domestic market only so unless  you have an Italian IP address then you’re not going to get access.  Fortunately most of the good vpn service providers now cover a decent variety of servers and usually Italy is included.   So a quick connection to a VPN server based in Rome you” browse with Italian IP address which is all you need to access RaiPlay and the other Italian only broadcasters.

How to Use an Italian IP Address

Here’s a quick video demonstrating how you can watch Rai streaming Estoro – here

So as you can see the initial attempt fails because the Rai Play web sites looks up the origin of the IP address and sees it’s from the UK.  When the VPN is connected however this actually causes you to change IP Address Italy and  because the server is based in Rome you’ll find that you get full access because of the Italian IP address.

The software demonstrated links through to many European countries and so you don’t need to particularly specify your requirements.  It’s a simple matter to switch from a US server to VPN Italia with a click of the button and then on to a French IP address afterwards.  As long as the VPN server is configured correctly it should be virtually undetectable, so your identity is protected as is your location.

Most of the European countries have servers based in them including the Rome based ones for use as an Italian VPN, there are strict privacy controls that protect your data enshrined in European laws.  You should be careful while using servers in other countries though where there is little protection compared to an Italy server.  For example although Russian servers are often used by computer hackers to hide their identity in many cases they’d be safer using  a well regulated VPN services based in Europe.

Choosing to browse with Italian IP is a fairly safe option and of course you’ll need an address from an Italy IP range to access channels like RAI play.

So if you’re looking for an Italian IP address then you should have a reasonable amount of choice with the larger VPN providers.

Why not try the trial, there’s no obligation and it only costs a few Euros to test it out.

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How to Change DNS on Smart TV

Smart TVs are getting smarter, that’s for certain, the days when your TV would simply display a few channels received from a television aerial are long gone. Today’s Smart TV are multimedia powerhouses which can access and display all sorts of content from a variety of different sources.

For example a standard Smart TV will be able to use applications to access internet based sites like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, ITV player, Netflix, Youtube and a host of others. Just plug your TV into your network and you can access all sorts of resources that previously were only accessible from your home computers.

However with this new power comes the annoying restrictions too, geo-locking technology that blocks access to different sites on computers has the same effect on our TV sets too. Our Netflix is locked to the crappy version we normally get and millions won’t be able to access things like BBC iPlayer or HBO online unless we start shipping or TV with us internationally. The blocks work in the same way as they do on computers, your IP address is checked and location noted then you’re allowed access or blocked depending on where you are.

BUT WAIT – IP Address on my TV, it’s not a computer?

Well a Smart TV is pretty much the same as a computer at least if it wants to access the internet, any network enabled device needs an IP address to function online. Which also means it needs a host of network settings to allow it to talk to your router or access point and ultimately use internet based resources.

So does that mean you can also use USA proxies and VPNs (see here) to bypass these blocks like millions already use on their computers? Well it’s possible but usually a little tricky simply because you’ll only have access to basic functionality on a Smart TV – it’s much easier to use a system called Smart DNS.

Here’s the one I use, after testing about 10 of them earlier last year.

They are called Overplay and to use on your Smart TV is actually quite simple, all you need is the cheapest service – Smart DNS. Once you’ve enabled your account, by visiting their registration page from any computer, phone or tablet on your network then you just need to enable it on your Smart TV. This process will vary depending on your TV but you’re basically looking for the Network Settings page.

Start Here.
smarthub-smasung

Then Find this….
networksmartdns

Leading on to this page……
smartdns-settings

Which is where, all you need to do is to input your new Smart DNS server in the DNS server settings. This turns your Smart TV into an international traveller able to adopt a disguise whenever needed. When you click through to the Netflix Application you’ll be able to access the US version, play BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world or in fact any UK Television stations. The Smart DNS server will apply a little disguise to your connection wherever you need it to. No software, no VPN, the SMart DNS server will do it all for you without rerouting your connection.

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Is Speed Important for a VPN Service?

Years ago, I had a very exciting job installing a VPN client from IBM on thousands of laptops in a Pharmaceutical company.  They took security very seriously, the stakes are high with regards drug and research – many of these laptops had direct access to all sorts of confidential data.  All the laptops were secure, all had full disk encryption multiple authentication requirements and if they were lost they could be remotely locked too.

For many years, the company refused to allow access to the internet using company laptops citing the security issues.  However over the years the pressure became greater, people got fed up of carting two laptops every where and the tablet wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as they are now.  Eventually they gave in and allowed people to use both the internet for personal reasons, but also remote access into the corporate network.  There was much expense involved and the laptops were about as secure as they could possibly be in those circumstances using the technology available.

One important concepts was the VPN, first it allowed access to the corporate network and secondly it allowed another level of protection for communication online.  The IBM client software I installed would look for the nearest company VPN server and connect through to that, all the individuals were supposed to use this method every time they went online.  It all looked great in theory although many in security still maintained there ‘no net is safer’ stance.

The problem was, the super secure VPN service was very slow, despite supposedly trying to connect to the nearest VPN server – sometimes this didn’t work very well and the client software would pick some remote server on the other side of the world.  Also some of the servers just ran very slowly across certain connections, in many cases this was due to routing and hardware issues not related to the servers themselves. For the people who used these laptops, the decision was quite simple – fire up the VPN and suffer tedious waits, buffering and delays or forget to start the VPN and surf normally at super fast speeds that are often available in hotels and remote locations.  The reality was very few people ended up using this expensive, global network of VPN servers unless they really had to.

Speed is Important in a VPN

Although it’s primary purpose is arguably security, a fast VPN service is something that is essential if it’s going to be used.   As we can see from this video:

A VPN server will always have some impact on speed simply because it’s adding an extra hop on any route. However a fast, well configured VPN service can minimize this extra lag – in fact there are compression technologies that can severely reduce the effect and sometimes they can even speed up a connection slightly.

When you are looking at choosing a VPN service make sure that you test relative speed carefully especially before taking up a long subscription. There are a variety of speed tests sites available online and what you should do is baseline your connection without the VPN enabled and then check the impact of using the tunnel. Make sure you check the specific countries you need, for example if you use a VPN to access UK TV sites and media – then ensure that you test the UK servers. Often popular countries are overloaded with requests whilst other servers may run much more quickly because they’re underutilized.

Further Reading Here

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How to Get an American IP Address

Do you remember the early days of the internet?  Sure it was sometimes difficult to navigate and often you’d find yourself on weird websites, but it was very unlikely you’d ever get blocked or redirected while you surfed.  However those times have changed and now your surfing is increasingly controlled not by you but the websites you visit and the search engines you use.

Ever tried to order from the French site of Amazon to buy something cheaper, watch ‘The Simpsons’ on Hulu or perhaps access the American version of Netflix because they’ve got loads more films than the UK or Canadian version? It’s not so simple anymore, you’ll find yourself blocked at every turn and redirected to the version that the site want’s you to visit.

how to get an American IP Address
No US IP Address = No Hulu

If you travel abroad it will get even more annoying, because you’ll find yourself getting blocked from sites or services that you normally use at home simply because of your location.  Many people even find themselves unable to access their online banking because they happen to be in a different country!  It’s getting pretty bad, and it’s only going to get worse as the best web sites try and maximize their profits and limit broadcasting rights.

Here’s a very small selection of sites which currently restrict access based on location –

  • BBC iPlayer
  • Hulu
  • ABC
  • NBC
  • Netflix
  • HBO GO
  • Amazon Prime
  • Spotify
  • Al Jazeera
  • Pandora

There’s literally thousands more, and worse they tend to be the very best sites particularly if you’re looking for movies, TV, music and video.

How to Get an American IP Address

Each one looks up your location based on your IP address when you connect initially, they then decide whether you can access or not.  Fortunately there is a solution, it is possible to fool these sites and hide your real location.   Although it is not actually possible to change your real IP address (apart from your local internal address which doesn’t matter anyway), it is possible to hide it and present a different IP address instead.

It is done by routing your connection through a server based in the country you need, these are commonly called proxy or VPN servers.   So if you want to access a US site from outside the USA, you could connect via a US based server to give you an American IP address.

The video demonstrates how you can switch locations at will, simply by clicking on the appropriate country, hey you can even have a Russian IP address if you want.  Remember your real IP address isn’t really changing,that is assigned by the device your connecting through – it’s merely being hidden from the web site you’re visiting. This also has additional benefits, such as keeping your connection and privacy secure when you’re online. People all over the world now routinely use these programs to bypass all sorts of blocks and filters.

It is possible to access some of the blocked sites by using free proxy servers that you can find online, however these should be used with some caution. Many are hacked or compromised servers which have been left open accidentally, whilst others install adware on your computer to cover the costs.

Update 2018:

It’s mentioned above that all you need is learn how to get an American IP address in order to access the US version on Netflix.  Unfortunately in 2018 that’s simply not enough as the media giant has put in some filters that will block most simple US IP address VPN services.   It’s still possible to access the US but you’ll need a service that supports US IP address but also ones that are classified as residential too.  Most VPNs use IP address ranges assigned to datacentres which are classified as commercial and won’t work any longer with Netflix.

So if you want to learn how to access the US version from anywhere (and it’s well worth it) then read the following post – How to Change IP address to USA for Netflix.

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