The Rise Of The Professional Instagrammer

Could a ‘grammer boost your business?

For most people, the social network Instagram is just one of a number of platforms that can be used to connect, post, share and engage with friends and followers. But now that we are well into the social media age, we’re way past the time when a widely-used social network could be used simply for good clean fun. Indeed, major brands and companies have picked up on the fact that advertising their products on Instagram—via the accounts of popular users—can be a far more effective and genuine way to engage with their target audiences than traditional forms of advertising. Instagram may only be a few years old, but in a short time it’s managed to change the way advertisers seek to reach their demographics.

Call them “influencers,” “social media celebrities,” or simply “grammers”: there is an entire industry of people making their living off their Instagram posts alone.

These users can be stars in their own right—be it musicians, actors or models—or formerly unknown bloggers, tastemakers and amateur photographers who managed to garner a large following and make a name for themselves on the network. The one thing they all have in common is a large number of followers. One prime example is the Kardashian-Jenner clan, though it’s not exactly surprising that the queens of self promotion would get in on the Instagram act.  With millions of followers among the six sisters, there are plenty of sponsorship opportunities to go around, not to mention opportunities to shill their own lines of products on their private accounts. It’s not seen as fake or salesy, as their followers have come to expect it.

In many ways, the platform itself is particularly suited for instant celebrity, thanks to an image-heavy focus, fewer posts than Facebook or Twitter, and the feeling of intimacy that a popular account user has with their legions of followers. Unlike on Facebook where a celebrity is unlikely to “friend” a fan, on Instagram followers can feel like they’re close to their favourite celeb or influencer, even though it’s a one-way relationship.

In addition, from a brand’s perspective the strictly numerical way that a user can quantify their impact from a single post is attractive to advertisers. The so-called “conversion rate”—the holy grail of online advertisers—is easily and precisely measured by how many of an account’s total followers liked or interacted with the post. Unlike a TV ad or billboard, a brand can know exactly how much impact their investment has made. The only disclaimer usually made is the addition of “#spon”, which of course is code for “sponsored.” In return, a user can easily make thousands of dollars for a single post.

So who is raking in the cash and how are they doing it? Interestingly enough, even though they drive tons of traffic to the platform itself, these influencers are not being paid by Instagram itself. Brands usually pay per post, and the more followers one has, the more leverage a user has in terms of getting a good rate. An Instagrammer like popular fashion account WeWoreWhat, which has 1.2 million followers, can do both formal sponsorships with brands like Lancôme and Virgin Hotels, and simply receive free products like handbags and shoes in exchange for a post.

In fact, it’s no surprise that in the wake of all this Instagram advertising potential, consultancies like Mobile Media Lab have sprung up to help broker deals between users and advertisers. It’s only a matter of time though until the next big social network comes along to disrupt this space and provide a new platform for celebrities—or online influencers—to reach new, untapped audiences.

It’s not just influencers who can cash in on the huge popularity of Instagram: your business can too. Check out this blog post for tips on how to use the platform effectively.