Instagram is a social media mobile application, otherwise called app, which has become wildly popular in recent years. It allows users to share their photos and videos with others using their smartphones. A user who shares his or her videos or pictures on Instagram would be displayed on their profile for others to see. If someone is following you on Instagram, then they too would be able to see your posts in their feed.
This is a feature just like Facebook; the only difference is that Facebook helps to share text as well as videos and pictures, but Instagram is exclusively created for pictures and videos. Another feature of Instagram is that it allows you to follow other Instagram users, and other users too can follow you. The immediate use of this is vanity and narcissism, where you can gloat over how many of your friends and relatives are following your feeds on Instagram, and liking or commenting on your feeds. But over time, that has evolved beyond a simple ‘do you have more followers than me?’ Comparison, to a commercial aspect as well. This is because your Instagram followers can now ensure that you get paid.
So why would someone pay you for what seems to be a simple sharing of your pictures and videos? Brands would pay you, and they would pay you if-
- your posts on Instagram are in line with whatever product, service or lifestyle the brands want to promote, and if
- your feeds are followed by enough number of people for the brands to find it worth their while to associate with you.
Who is an influencer?
If you fulfill both these criteria, then those brands would consider you to be an influencer. An influencer is someone whose posts and opinions are seen to have an adequate number of followers whose opinion can be influenced in favor of a particular brand.
Let us take an example. Say you are a fitness enthusiast and spend hours at the gym. Obviously, you take great pride in taking pictures of your sculpted body and sharing them on Instagram. Your Instagram posts might also have some descriptions of what you ate before and after, or even what health supplements you are using, or a particular picture of you in your gym gear could even draw several queries and comments regarding the shoes that you are wearing. A particular footwear brand might see that traction on your Instagram feed and also notice that you have a substantial number of followers on Instagram. They might then want to align with you for the promotion of their brands, either directly or in subtle below-the-line ways. The reality is that it is usually the other way around, and Instagram users reach out to brands to see if they can become influencers for them, and the competition for becoming influencers is quite stiff. An influencer would use the brand’s hashtag on his relevant posts so that the traffic on your feeds can be directed to that brand.
What else can you do to become an influencer?
Apart from Instagram followers, a good influencer would need to have regular and relevant posts on Instagram for the brand to get interested in his Instagram feed. One good and relevant post once in a while will not make you attractive enough as an influencer to convince the brand to pay you. In fact, not only Instagram but a strong and ‘follower heavy’ presence on other social media sites would be a definite plus. A LinkedIn post, for instance, would add some weight to an Instagram post.
How many are good enough?
As I said earlier, you need to have a large number of Instagram followers to be able to become attractive enough to a brand for them to consider paying you money to be an influencer. The answer to this is not one single number. Again, let us take an example. Say a particular user has 5000 followers and posts regularly about food, restaurants, recipes, etc. This user might not be getting as much engagement from his followers as another user with 3200 followers but a barrage of traffic on each of his posts. To a restaurant or takeaway outlet, the second user might be a much better influencer than the first, even though he has lesser followers. So, the influencer needs to not only have many followers but also create posts which generate adequate traction.
It might be difficult to believe, but an active and popular Instagram account can be a great way to earn money, provided one knows the correct ways in which one can become an influencer, and induce brands to pay for that influence.
Author Bio: Christie Williams is a social media veteran, having worked her way to becoming a respected counselor and advisor on social media. Her Instagram followers love her honest, sometimes brutal advice regarding what is wrong with their marketing strategies for their brands or their profile.