Instagram has come a long way since it first debuted in October 2010. The free photo-sharing app has turned into something more than just sharing photos with friends. It has become a place where regular people can build a following and make money off of the engagement with their content. It has also become a place where brands see this influence and want to capitalize on it. Influencers have popped up on various social media platforms like YouTube but Instagram Influencers are in a league of their own. You don’t have to get millions of views or have hundreds of thousands of followers to get paid (although it helps!) like you would on YouTube. The game is changing to the point where people with as little as 5,000 to 10,000 followers are getting either paid or free merchandise to upload a photo to Instagram.
What is an Instagram Influencer, you may ask? An Instagram Influencer is a popular Instagrammer that brands collaborate with to create and promote brand-sponsored photos or videos in order to expand the awareness, engagement and conversion of their brand to the influencers large and engaged audience. These influencers have some serious power and they know it. It was “found that over half of young Instagram users (aged 13-24) rely on the platform to help define themselves —this includes discovering new interests, products, brands, and services through the app’s discovery feature, social sharing, and of course, via Instagram influencer marketing campaigns.” (Mediakix, 2016) But why are brands using these influencers? Firstly, it is cheaper than traditional marketing. Paying a few influencers with a large following is more feasible than executing an entire campaign. Secondly, the high level of engagement with influencers’ audiences is a guarantee that this sponsored content will be seen, shared, liked and ultimately bought.
With brands jumping on this profitable influencer bandwagon there has been a rise in agencies created just for this type of marketing. It is important that these branded posts are done right and agencies are aware of that. These collaborations needs to be an organic experience for followers, it shouldn’t be so self-promotional or too gimmicky. Teens and young adults want authentic and aesthetically pleasing content. In a study done by Social Media Week, “68% of Instagrammers ages 13–24 say they interact with brands regularly, whether it’s by looking at photos, liking content, following accounts, or visiting a website after discovering the respective content.” (Becker, 2016) It doesn’t look like this trend of influencers is going anywhere soon and it looks like a mutually beneficial venture for all parties involved.
Author: Emma Oyomba (University of Vermont) – Senior at the University of Vermont majoring in Political Science and minoring in The Consumer and Advertising.
Advisor: Rob Williams, Ph.D. (University of Vermont); Professor of Media/Communications.
Becker, Tyler. “How and Why 13-24 Year-Olds Use Instagram,” Social Media Week, 26 January 2016. Accessed 3 April 2016.
Mediakix. “What Is Instagram Influencer Marketing,” Mediakix, 26 April 2016. Accessed 2 April 2016.