In 2018, 93 per cent of brands used Instagram as their channel of choice to launch influencer marketing campaigns according to research conducted by CreatorIQ. So, how did this social media platform become a marketing powerhouse in the hands of the everyday consumer?
I was recently invited to host YOTEL Edinburgh’s upcoming YO-TELLs event around the rise of the InstaFamous in Scotland and it got me thinking about my own relationship with the social platform.
It all began when I embarked on travels to Thailand with my friend from university. Instagram provided the perfect platform to document my trip in a visual form while keeping my friends and family up to date back home.
Back then my photographs were grainy, taken without any consideration for technique or that I was in fact ‘creating content’. I had no clue about hashtags and my captions were very cryptic.
Now, Instagram has become an all-consuming world of personal branding, content planning and connections with a global network of online friends.
But when did my relationship with Instagram change? I remember being recognised for my Instagram ‘influence’ when I had built up to around 8,500 followers. I was living in London at the time and I was invited to an event at Esteé Lauder HQ – at that point, I thought it couldn’t get much better.
As my following continued to grow, more opportunities came my way. I became a part of the InstaFamous world, a role model for my followers who looked to me for advice on everything, from travel and fashion to how to start a side-hustle, and with that comes a feeling of responsibility.
Being an ‘influencer’ soon became part of my livelihood, producing content for brands from Topshop to Bumble. Alongside this, I had a multi-hyphenate approach to my career and I built my travel business, Crusoe Collective, taking on the role as a travel writer for magazine House of Coco. This transient way of working allowed me to grasp opportunities and become more flexible in how I managed both my career and my online presence.
My Instagram channel has now developed into my personal brand, a platform where I focus on curating the perfect feed and producing captivating content. If a post doesn’t perform well, it’s deleted, and I go back to the drawing board. Much like a business, if a product isn’t in demand, stop the conveyer belt!
However, more recently, there’s been a shift towards authenticity on the platform – people want to see real people and their real lives.
Hashtags like #reallifeaesthetic and #authenticitymatters are some of the highest trending on the platform and you’re likely to garner more engagement for just being you, rather than a polished version of yourself. In a world that’s never been more connected, consumers yearn for a more personal connection and that’s the reason influencer marketing has skyrocketed.
Consumers become attached to their favourite influencers, as do I. If Eatinburgh tells me that a certain restaurant in Edinburgh is delicious, you bet I’ll go, and if Wear What Works posts about the latest garments to drop on ASOS, you’ll find me filling my cart.
I’m interested to know how others feel about the ever-developing platform which is why I’m excited for this week’s event. Alongside me, YOTEL has brought together some of the most influential and interesting people on the influencer scene in Edinburgh. We’re going to explore the platform in depth, from retaining our following to producing engaging content and managing it all with a full-time job on the side.
Although my relationship with Instagram has changed over the years, it’s helped me build my career and connect with like-minded people. I owe a lot to Instagram but my success is also down to always maintaining a side-hustle to the point of self-employment, my loyal followers and the hard work I’ve put in to build my brand to where it is today.
For now, it seems, the influencer marketing scene will continue to grow, redefining not only the marketing industry but the world of celebrity and the way consumers shop.
YO-TELLs InstaFamous will take place on 21 November at 7pm at YOTEL Edinburgh. Opened in August, this is the tech-inspired group’s first UK city centre hotel. The 276-room hotel offers an experience driven by sleek minimalistic design and clever use of technology for those who appreciate quality but don’t need the fuss of a traditional luxury hotel.
Caoilfhionn Rose Maguire, YOTEL.