I am obsessed with Instagram, mainly because I like to be nosy but also because I am amazed at how well it has grown and how brands use it as a marketing platform.
In the last five years, Instagram has gone from having 90 million users to one billion users. That is incredible growth, and if brands aren’t already using it to engage with customers they should be.
But how do influencers manage to build themselves from nothing to signing big contracts, and why do brands want to work with people like this? I have broken it down by industry because each one does it slightly differently.
There are many reasons why working with influencers has been successful in the health industry but something I have especially noticed is the hunger for real-life stories. Gone are the times of product placement, consumers want to see real results to believe that something works.
A great example of this is Alice Liveing. She took to Instagram to log her progress for her new lifestyle change and by doing so she has created a following of 640k and now works with the likes of Women’s Health and Primark on a regular basis.
Brands know that Alice’s followers trust her, her followers grew because she was posting real, honest and personal content and people connected with what she was going through. Instead of taking advantage of free products that are sent to her, Alice works with brands she really believes in, so when she speaks about them to her followers it is taken in a ‘good advice from a friend’ kind of way.
When Alice isn’t posting about brands, she offers her followers free workouts and recipe ideas that they can use. For her, it has always been about helping others and because of this, consumers aren’t constantly bombarded with product placements, and when she is promoting a brand it’s because she loves it and believes it can help her followers.
Similarly, Healthy Chef Steph was started by Steph Elswood as a way to help her think positively about her body but now she has 205k followers and keeps them up to date with what she is doing on a regular basis. It gives a sense of lust to consumers and leaves people wanting what she has.
People want to go to the gym she does to achieve the same results, others want to visit the hotel she does to get the perfect picture she has and people want to buy the jacket she wears to look as good as her. It is all about lusting over a life they see and buying into a lifestyle.
The health industry has blown up over the last few years and Brits are more aware of their lifestyle choices. This has had a real impact on health brands and has helped influencers grow even quicker. Consumers want to follow people like this on Instagram to maintain a healthy lifestyle and remind themselves of what their end goal could also look like.
Influencers in the fashion industry are very different, I have noticed that smaller influencers are promoting products but the true success for this industry is working with emerging celebrities.
A brand that has understood how this can work well is In The Style, by working with a range of influencers from Binky Felstead, Sarah Ashcroft and now Dani Dyer they are reaching over 5 million target customers on Instagram alone.
All of these stars have their own clothing range, and all promote them online with regular links to what they are wearing. Both brand and influencer benefit from this partnership and consumers have a constant flow of outfit inspiration on a platform that they use regularly.
In a way, In The Style are much more forward-thinking than big brands like John Lewis. Although the big retailer captures the hearts of many during their Christmas campaigns, they don’t work with influencers in the same way.
Other brands like Very and New Look are starting to make similar decisions and working with the likes of Michelle Keegan and Rochelle Humes. Celebrities that are much more established in their careers but fit their target customer just the same.
When it comes to the beauty industry, YouTubers are still a popular choice for beauty addicts but Instagram stories are a great way for consumers to have a similar experience on this platform and get an insight to influencers lives. Influencers that are successful in this industry include Zoella, Pixiwoo, Dani Mansutti, and Estee Lalonde as well as other smaller influencers like Eltoria.
Consumers can relate to real people and Instagram helps to magnify this for the beauty industry. It creates another platform that beauty fanatics can find new brands or products to see snippets of reviews quickly and easily.
Instagram can be used as a search engine using hashtags. When I type in #lush, it brings up an option to ‘watch #lush videos’. A series of short videos that influencers, as well as ordinary people, have uploaded to their own profiles. An easy way to see a review of a product or brand.
So rather than using this platform to buy products, beauty consumers can use this platform to research and review products before buying through content from influencers.
Instagram is the perfect place for any travel brand or influencer. Consumers are constantly seeing inspiring posts of their next holiday or travel adventure but rather than it being a space for promotion, similarly to the beauty industry, Instagram is more a research platform for Brits.
One of the best Instagram profiles to follow for this to see content that will make you want to travel is Marie Fe and Jack Snow. They are travelling the world, staying in amazing hotels and experiencing it all because of Instagram.
They met while on their travels and they decided to share the experience together on one Instagram profile. Now with 200k followers’ consumers are constantly following their journey and they are able to carry on travelling the world because they work with brands and hotels on a regular basis.
This works in the travel industry because consumers want to get the inspiration in a platform that they are using daily. Again, it is the sense of lust that keeps people following profiles like this.
Social Media is ever growing and has caused a shift in the way marketing and PR works. Brands and agencies are aware of this change and are adapting from the conventional methods and trying to evolve to an ever-changing world. First, it was to work with bloggers to gain exposure and now it is to work with Instagrammers because most brands’ target audiences are using this platform daily.
Almost 1 in 5 people between the ages of 18 and 34 are using Instagram regularly, which is why brands are too. Digital is shifting the way we will shop forever.
Social Media has allowed consumers to have more of an insight into what is real and what is not and as long as brands and influencers don’t jeopardise this, consumers will continue to trust them.
Brands should be working with social influencers to create a good social presence because Instagram is going to continue to grow and it is the easiest way to connect with customers. Building your brand on social media is all about having a good relationship with consumers and knowing what they want to see, this should be your next step to understand what kind of influencers your target customer relates to and to find out how you can work with them in the future.
Something to note though, consumers have started to pick up on the #ad so how long will it be until the next shift starts?