“So, what are you gonna do with your Instagram?”
I was sat in an airport lounge with a girl I had just met on a recent press trip, and we had plopped down at the gate to wait for our respective flights home – me to Toronto, her to the West Coast. She was young and sweet and naive, but had a great sense of style, and her Instagram celebrity was taking off – after just one year of documenting her daily style, she was sitting close to 100k Instagram followers (all organic).
“Uhhh…. whaddya mean?” she responded absently, disengaged in the conversation as her eyes scanned the lounge for the perfect spot to take an airport outfit pic (well-lit, not too many people, but obvious we’re at the airport, ya know?). She found a spot and I snapped a few pics of her being ‘natural’ and ‘in the moment’, and when we got back to our seats with our Starbucks in tow, I asked her the question again.
“You know, what are you gonna do with this audience you have? Like, what’s next for you?” She looked at me a bit puzzled before shrugging and mumbling, “I dunno, I haven’t really thought about it,” then looked back at her phone to edit her photo before we got on the plane.
Fair enough. A year later and this same influencer is now closing in on 450k Instagram followers, her blog taking a backseat as she dedicates all of her efforts to the social sharing platform instead. Every day she posts one or more street style photos of herself to her Instagram profile, promoting the brands she wears and the campaigns they’re running, usually with a simple caption that reads, “Friday vibes” or “Casual neutrals”.
Her content is harmless and pretty and no doubt aesthetically pleasing, but at its core is also consumer-driven and hasn’t changed much save for a better photographer. She’s sitting with a massive audience of people at her fingertips, but isn’t really saying, well, anything at all. And as I sit here now with my coffee in hand and scroll through my Instagram feed, I realize she’s actually the norm – that we’re amassing huge audiences of followers without offering up much more than ‘latergrams’ of our lunch or a photo of our purse du jour.
So it got me thinking… as ‘influencers’, what are we actually doing with our influence?