Over the course of the last few years, social media platforms have drastically changed how companies can market their product or service. However, it is not just businesses that have learned how to target users and to create a community that manages to pay the bills. The rise of the influencer has created a new set of opportunities and headaches for those navigating the social media platform. From simply a way to share photos with family and friends, it is now possible to make a living from engaging with followers and working with brands.
Much of this has to do with the fact that the platform itself has gone through a number of changes within the past few years. After being acquired by Facebook in 2012, the platform has transformed into a way to make documenting your lifestyle a full-time job. Advertising is now available as an option for individual creators as well as businesses, and you don’t have to have a social media manager in order to develop a following that attracts the attention of brands who want to partner together.
This began when brands began to reach out to celebrities who already had a decent following because of their public status. These figures could be paid for promoting a certain product or service, and companies would hope that a celebrity endorsement would be enough to direct buyers to their site. Over time, celebrities were not the only people who were contacted for these partnerships, and those with a large following could also make money while promoting a brand. It also extended to those who had built a following on their own, either from exceptional photography, or personality-driven posts.
The rise of the Instagram influencer has made the switch from publications and companies controlling the content that people see to individuals having more “influence” than traditional media. While a company might have the same amount of followers, there is no guarantee that they will be able to sell a product more effectively than an individual, who might have more of a personal connection with their followers. While various companies might work with individuals with a specific amount of people following their account, or they might choose influencers who have a type of audience that targets their product or service.
Some influencers have even managed to make a living from working with companies on campaigns. Lifestyle, travel, and fitness influencers can charge businesses to promote products on their channels, and it is not uncommon to see sponsored posts coming from the most successful influencers. Because it is such a new industry, there are not always clear guidelines on how much influencers can make from posts, but it is suggested that influencers with a following of over 150k might make as much as $2000 a post. This also depends if they have agreed include products within their stories or IGTV accounts, as well.
Inevitably, this has led to companies and individuals looking to see how they can promote themselves better on Instagram. They might choose to purchase third-party applications in order to better manage posts or to analyze analytics. Some have even chosen to buy Instagram followers as a way capitalize on this new market. Even by appearing as though a company or influencer might have a large audience, they can attract new people by looking as though they already have a solid following. While this has been debated by the social media site if it should be allowed or not, brands and influencers are finding it hard to compete without being able to use some additional tools.
An Instagram following as led several people to move beyond the platform, and it is not uncommon to see these individuals create blogs, videos, obtain book deals, or even move into true celebrity simply by personality. This has been the case for figures such as Cardi B, who now makes a living touring as a rapper. While it is a very small segment of people who manage to rise above the platform into actual fame, the possibility does exist. This has not only added to the number of people who have joined Instagram, but also those who are looking to use it as a way to create income.
This has made the platform even more crowded for potential want-to-be influencers, who are finding it more difficult than ever to compete with established brands. This is only likely to become more of a challenge in the future as more accounts start to succeed and there is a smaller piece of the Instagram pie to take part of. Nonetheless, Instagram has established a new norm of curated content that directly addresses customers and allows for engagement in a way that other platforms do not.