Working with ‘brands’ on Instagram – the reality behind those glossy photos
Advertisers are becoming more demanding
Brands can be picky and competition is fierce
It might look glossy and happy on the surface. But it seems not everything in the Insta world is rosy…
Recently insta influencer Clemmie Hooper aka @mother_of_daughters periodically deleted her account after criticism that she was exploiting her children by posting sponsored pictures of them.
And now Interiors blogger Lisa Dawson who boasts over 100,000 followers on her account @_lisa_dawson_ has felt the need to pen a candid blog admitting: “I’m not happy to just receive a free product. I need to be paid for it.”
The mum of two reveals her earnings from her Instagram account meant she could leave her ‘extremely boring job as a freelance transcriptionist’ to pursue her new career (on Instagram).
She was defending the question many are asking, ‘Is it possible to remain authentic when you are using your account to promote a branded product?’
Indeed ‘brands’ seem to be dominating many Instagram accounts. This is how it goes. There’s a wonderful period in the early days when the account holder is new and growing comes up with creative ideas themselves. Their photos are different and what they have to say is unique and original. But then … something happens … they start ‘working with a brand’ and from then on it seems every time you go on their stories or feed, they’ve received ‘a gift’, they’ve got ‘exciting news’ about a ‘brand’ they suddenly adore. Is that because they are being paid or because they genuinely love something?
They might label the post ad or sponsored but the lines between what they really like and what they are being paid to like are becoming blurred.
I have every sympathy for Instagrammers facing the sponsored post dilemma.
Lisa Dawson writes: “There is no such thing as a freebie… it’s a business transaction, pure and simple.” And she would take a fully paid family holiday in return for producing content.
Who wouldn’t, she says.
Certainly advertisers are becoming VERY demanding. You will need to have a large authentic and organically grown following before even being considered by a brand as being suitable to work with.
Featureworld saw one request recently from an advertiser saying a blogger must have at least 10,000 followers before they would even send them a gift. Brands can be extremely prescriptive – blogs must be presented a certain way, with certain products in them, certain links and posted at certain times of the day. If the advertiser doesn’t like what you have produced, then you will have to re-do it (and many campaigns are written and styled by the advertiser themselves or have blocks of text you must incorporate in a blog.) Step away from the brief and you risk not being paid or being asked again.
Brands are likely to pay more if you do involve your children or other members of your family – because it is people and their lifestyles which make the most attractive and influencial ads. Worryingly this seems to be leading to families with young children exposing their private lives on social media in a way no newspaper or magazine article I have ever written for would do. And it is this that Clemmie Hooper was criticised for.
While many bloggers network and form bonds to like and promote one another, if you want to make a living from it, it is extremely competitive – let up and your likes and engagement might drop. Brands are constantly looking for new, better bloggers and hungry wannabe influencers are constantly contacting them directly. Lisa Dawson says she works weekends and even late at night. “If I don’t post, my engagement and reach will drop and I won’t be able to show brands that I have a strong demographic.”
She points out: “I spend a significant amount of time creating content and producing photography for projects and campaigns. This content has to be acceptable to the brand and also be appropriate to my feed. It’s a lot of work – it’s not uncommon for brands to make changes after I’ve submitted the project – and takes time to get right.
“This is a wider audience than many magazine circulations. It costs a lot of money to put an advert in a magazine. Why should brands pay magazines for advertorial and not me?”
Like many bloggers she claims she would never work with a brand she doesn’t like and turns down many proposals. And she believes many instagrammers are offering a service. “For followers, it’s a way of discovering new brands and products, new independent businesses, through accounts that they follow and enjoy.”
I am not someone who thinks instagrammers should not be paid via adverts (how else do they make money?) but I do think it is a pity so many accounts are ruled by ‘brands’. Whether this trend can continue at this current pace remains to be seen.
Do you have story about Instagram for the national press? Contact me using the form to the right of this page >>>