It was not very long ago that no one among us could have ever predicted the impact that social media would have on our lives. Even as sites like FaceBook and YouTube grew in popularity, it was not considered that there would be such a thing as an influencer in the way there is today. Sure, there have always been influencers. Politicians, movie and television stars, authors, models and sports stars – along with the occasional astronaut and public figure – all stood out among the rest of us as larger than life. These celebrities have without question influenced the decisions of the consuming public and commercial companies have perfected the art of using these people and their influence to sell their goods and services.
Social media influencers, however, are a whole different ball game. Especially those who have taken to Instagram. We, at TSLMS, want to make sure that each and every one of our members and readers have access to every bit of information that you each need to understand the market in its entirety and what influences that market – so we will do our best to keep you up to date.
What is Instagram
Instagram is a social media site that is largely based on pictures (like Pinterist) and videos (like YouTube). The service is owned by social giant Facebook. Instagram is a little bit unique in the way it works. Here is how, as noted by MakeUseOf.com:
Like most social media apps, Instagram allows you to follow users that you’re interested in. This creates a feed on the homepage showing recent posts from everyone you follow. You can Like posts and comment on them. In addition to posting normal photos and videos, which stay on your page permanently, Instagram also supports Stories. Stories allow you to post one or more photos and video clips in a series. Anyone can view these for 24 hours, after which they expire. Aside from this, Instagram also supports direct messaging. You can also explore profiles to see what else you might have an interest in and people to follow… just hit the Follow button to subscribe to their posts. From then on, you’ll see their content on your Home tab.
According to HootSuite.com there are over 1 billion Instagram users. Most of these users are outside of the US (only 22% are domestic). 71% of those users are under 35 and 72% of US teens use the platform. A user, by the way, is called an Instagramer, and 95% of them are also YouTube users, 91% FaceBook users and 60% Snapchat. And while many more American adults use FaceBook and YouTube, Instagram is the third in rank across platforms. And the platform is not slowing down. In fact it has an 80% year over year use increase. It is no wonder that Instagram Influencers are considered big stars and bring in the big money, or that they can literally influence the taste of the world (or at least the demographics that they reach).
Defining Instagram Influencer
Instagram has mega and micro influencers. Mega Influencers, like Kim Kardashian, have hundreds of millions of followers. Kim herself has 143.2 million. (Source). According to CMS Wire, a micro-influencer may have anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 followers and macro-influencers have greater than 100,000 and up to 1,000,000. Then there are nano-influencers, who have less than 1,000 followers but who have influence in their community. With most Instagram users following these people daily and looking to them for advice on beauty, lifestyle, and fashion, it is no wonder there is literally a career now that is “social media influencer” and entire marketing companies that specialize in helping brands decide where to invest their social media influencer funds (partner with an influencer). As they note:
One generally needs to understand that the larger the audience, the less focused it is likely to be, and therefore the broader the offer will probably have to be. It’s no coincidence that we find Instagram celebrities selling green tea diet supplements, which have a broad appeal rather than something extremely specific. [That’s why for] general appeal products, celebrities and larger influencers are great… if a brand is selling a product or service for a specific target market they should consider partnering with either micro- or nano-influencers due to their more “narrow” audience.
At this time the instagram influencer marketplace has reached at least $2 billion, according to HopperHQ.com. “People who have built a large and engaged following on Instagram are known as ‘influencers’, due to the fact that their followers idolise them and respect their opinions. They may have acquired a loyal following due to their lifestyle, their job or hobby, the clothes they wear or the stories they tell. The pool of influencers is vast and diverse, meaning almost any brand has the potential to utilise Instagram influencer marketing for their industry and target demographic. The emergence of Instagram influencers opened up huge opportunities for businesses looking to authentically market their products to their target audience, and thus the ‘paid post’ phenomenon was born. In the early days, it might have been enough for a brand to send an influencer one of their products as a gift, in return for them posting about it on their profile. But this changed with the rapid growth of the space, as influencers realised they could not only gain free products, but actually charge brands for grid real estate on their profile.”
So while much of what these influencers post and say on Instagram is paid, partnered, or sponsored content, their followers still look to them as an indicator of what is beautiful. Thus, they greatly impact our industry.
Instagram Influences Trends in Cosmetic and Aesthetic Procedures
It does not take a stretch of the imagination to see the trajectory that instagram influencers have
on our industry. Perhaps beauty industry giant, Vogue, said it best. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but #content is in the hands of the Instagrammer.” In short, if we all follow these influencers, we can see what they are telling their followers and we can prepare for the future of that demographic’s aesthetic preferences; or at least we can try.