It’s almost ironic that I’m writing this article when my top read post on my blog was on how Instagram is coaxing its users to ‘pay to play’. When the business account was first introduced, some users felt like it was the app’s way to monetise and target the brands and influencers that have profited from the free platform. But that was nearly two years ago. If you’re accepting paid brand collaborations, it’s time to seriously reconsider keeping your personal account. Vamp already have a great breakdown of exactly what the business version offers you, but as someone who was a huge convert, I’ll share with you my reasons for my pivot.
You know me, I like to get the obvious points out of the way. As budgets tighten and the precarious economy, particularly in the UK, is making companies tighten their belts, brands are increasingly focused on ROI. Whether you base your media rate towards content creation or your stats, you’ll need to show for your results. The majority of clients will only work with business accounts, especially as the scrutiny is even greater on who has authentic engagement and those that don’t. Managing these intricacies are apps like Vamp, which won’t take on influencers that don’t have these insights.
If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how authentic can you be?
If there’s one thing that my first year of blogging has taught me, as well as the recent backlash published in The Times (a UK newspaper) against influencers, it’s that our audiences may follow us – but they actually have no idea what our jobs entail. If we can’t speak to our demographics, how can we say we are truly authentic in representing them? Comments and likes are a top-level figure and only representative of a minuscule percentage of our following.
Each region has a different attitude towards Instagram. For example, in my experience, the USA and Asia tend to see the app as a community for creators. Whereas the UK audience prefer ‘personal’ and approachable accounts, for example editors, big YouTubers or Reality TV stars. Neither one is better than the other, but it’s good to understand what your audience is looking for. Case in point, most UK influencers tell me that posting ‘glorified images’ of themselves or high-profile events like the recent British Fashion Awards turn off their audience. As I have an international following, I don’t see that negative impact when I post this kind of content at all.
Educate yourself to inform others
Data is king. This is such a cheesy saying but I’ll indulge myself, it’s nearly Christmas! Many platforms and various software claim to give you a breakdown of your audience and statistics but with Instagram’s strict API, there will come a point where their stats will be the most accurate representation of your audience. Recently, Instagram have announced major changes to what is publicly available to companies, even restricting access to profile information and its media in 2020. Not only does this affect my first point about brand partnerships but it means that more than ever, we the user are in control of our data. That’s a huge hurray on our part but it means that we should assume that responsibility.
Furthermore, if you’re a full-time influencer or have kept your fingers on the pulse of this industry, you might’ve realised how experimental brands have been in 2018, and how its varied from the relatively laissez-faire approach of last year. While platforms like Vamp do a great job in demonstrating our value to clients, we’ll find ourselves in situations where we do have to pitch and/or provide a report on our stats. You need to be knowledgeable to say something like, “my audience won’t respond well to a flatlay, can I provide a lifestyle shot instead? These are my stats to prove it”. Brands still have quite a long way in setting out a social media strategy that they’re comfortable with and influencers that seem informed and professional will help the industry excel as a whole.