Where in decades past consumers have looked to fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, etc for inspiration and seasonal trends, times have since changed and the Internet has made discovering this kind of content much more accessible. It was only a few years ago that fashion blogs were being born. These “fashion bloggers” didn’t have any idea of the impact that they would have on today’s society. Girls (and guys) started sharing their interests, opinions, and daily wardrobes on the world wide web for others to comment on and take inspiration from. As the audiences for personal blogs continued to grow, consumers started putting more of their trust in these relatable personalities that were sharing content daily over monthly fashion books they would pick up from the news stand.
When Instagram launched in 2010, the game changed even more drastically. Now anyone could share their style, their neighborhood, art, and passions without paying for hosting or planning too thoroughly. You see it, you snap it, and you share it. Within a couple of years, brands were forced to start questioning where they were putting their marketing dollars. It seemed that these emerging Instagram influencers had more pull in regards to customer buying behavior than campaigns featuring a celebrity and put together by an entire production crew.
The key to early success on Instagram was authenticity. Consumers will always get bored. And when you’ve been feeding them the same kind of content over and over for an extended period of time (ie. magazine ads), they will thirst for something different. Instagram popped up at just the right time and gave consumers the outlet to latch onto exactly when they needed it.
Think about it. When you can truly relate and see yourself in that outfit or in that place that Instagram influencer “XYZ” just shared on their feed, it sticks with you. Whether you “like” it, comment on it, tag your friend to share it, or screen shot it to save it for later, these are all actions that you wouldn’t be so inclined to make while flipping through the pages of Vogue in the airport terminal.
Brands are watching, listening, and learning. And while there is still more room for growth on Instagram, they’ve learned how to partner with some of the biggest influencers on the platform. The toughest part about this kind of relationship is that it relies on a paycheck. Once money becomes part of the equation, you risk losing authenticity. Some Instagram influencers like @manrepeller (in my opinion) have nailed this balance. Leandra Medine has created a business for herself from what began as a series of thoughts and opinions shared on a personal blog. Over time, her posts continue to come from her voice, showcase her style, and highlight brands at the same time…all while a team of employees conduct the show from behind the curtain.
Other Instagram influencers can struggle to find this balance. With legal restrictions getting tighter on Instagram making it required that a sponsored post be labeled as #ad, #spon, etc, it becomes even more challenging to keep your online social presence authentic. This is one of the main reasons that partnering with the right influencers for your brand is critical.
Instagram has been around long enough that it has found its place in the social media circle. While brands and influencers are partnering left and right, it’s the real-life, heart felt moments that warrant the best response on the platform. In order to keep your audience engaged and your brand alive, keep telling your story through real moments that your brand is genuinely excited to share.