Instagram has over 800 million users every month and well-followed individuals are making a tidy fortune but this may not remain the same, as it is mentioned in a recent article by The Evening Standard.
Even ‘micro-influencers’ – people with 10,000 to 100,000 followers – can make above £1,000 per post plugging products like charcoal toothpaste. With some celebrities charging more than sixty times that for the same product mentions you can see why an underground economy has sprung up.
Some believe the Instagram influencer bubble, like Bitcoin, is about to burst although data from eMarketer seems to suggest the opposite; 75 per cent of brands plan to spend more on influencers in 2018 (just 3 per cent of respondents said they planned to cut back). For many, it’s the Wild West out there, but some individuals are getting it right and planning for the long-term.
The space is growing up fast thanks to greed, growth and opportunity. Instagram is growing fast (for various reasons) and the lack of knowledge is making the cost of working with influencers fluctuate. Brands feed the greed because there are no real rules or standards and so the cycle continues. Two distinct categories of individuals are emerging that I call ‘databasers’ and ‘missioners’.
Databasers are just in it for the money and get put into databases of people just because of their follower count, they regularly rinse their followings and have no real drive other than financial or follower gain. ‘Missioners’ use their popularity to drive something more than money (often co-creating larger campaigns or content) – a belief, cause or a theme. Both take the money and create content, but how and why they do differ significantly.
Sedge Beswick, Co-Founder of Seen Connects, a global influencer marketing agency, believes 2018 will bring new power structures to the influencer ecosystem; “More influencers are moving away from traditional talent agencies like GLEAM and setting up their own agencies and rewriting the rules. Coca-Cola just signed to Casper Lee’s influencer agency, for example.” Paid placement isn’t going anywhere, but thanks to new players emerging in the space – including Amazon – this economy will have to grow up fast with more rigid frameworks and strategies that focus on real business objectives.