Instagram is currently one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, only sitting behind veterans Facebook and YouTube, and its users have been growing every day since its launch just seven years ago (Source: TechCrunch). It’s quick, easy to use, visually led and functionally simple, so its popularity, particularly amongst the under-30s, comes as no surprise.
In recent years, Instagram has initiated the concept of ‘the influencer’. Exciting, young, attractive celebrities build up ‘Insta-worthy’ profiles, filled with inspiration: fashion, beauty, food and snapshots of their captivating lives. In return, they gain extremely high amounts of followers: the current number one is Selena Gomez, followed by a cool 117 million devotees. We’re obsessed with the idea of being able to peek into a supposedly unattainable luxurious lifestyle, to be able to follow their activities as if we know them personally, or could be as famous as they are.
Brands began to realise that the influencer mass mania was a way to directly reach millions of Instagrammers. Celebrities are paid to pose with a product on their feed, recommending it to their followers as if it is the best thing they’ve ever experienced. However, now Instagram has changed the rules, and influencers are obliged to identify every paid-for post with a #spon or #ad hashtag. When every Instagram by a ‘Love Island’ or ‘Made in Chelsea’ cast member pictures a different brand and ends every caption with #ad, it doesn’t matter that they have millions of followers. The illusion of the ‘real life’ diary followers thought they were experiencing from their beloved celebrities is brought into question, and the authenticity of the consumer engagement could be impacted.
Introducing: the micro-influencer. Where Instagram accounts were once celebrity led, they’re now run by an everyday person. We’re talking around 30,000 followers, way under the million mark. They’re visiting restaurants they’ve heard about from friends, browsing their local independent shops, trying out beauty products that caught their eye in their favourite magazine. They’re believable, they’re the influencers-next-door, and they’re getting the engagement brands are looking for. The micro-influencer wants products and places they can review that genuinely interest them, and fit into their feed, to maintain the authenticity of their brand.
Surely, it’s case of returning to the foundations of PR: genuine, unique and creative storytelling for the brands we work with, so consumers and media alike want to recommend our clients. The use of paid celebrities certainly still has its place, particularly with regards to profiling in the media; but on Instagram let’s go back to basics, look to the micro-influencer, and engage in a more trustworthy manner with our target audiences.
Here are a few of our current favourite micro-influencers: