How Instagram And Data-Driven Marketing Have Changed, Together
At SMWNYC, a panel of early influencer marketing gurus hosted by CROWD. sat down to discuss how Instagram, fashion, and social media algorithms have changed and affected one another.
It may not feel like it now, but there was a time when bloggers weren’t invited into the world of fashion. They had to break in. Similarly, there was a time when Instagram wasn’t seen as a social media platform. It had to be acquired by the world’s biggest platform in order to become one itself.
Now, fashion bloggers or influencers as the new term, are major industry players, and Instagram is arguably the biggest platform in the game.
When CROWD., a full-service influencer marketing agency, hosted a panel with StyleScrapbook founder Andy Torres and DevTribe CMO Daniel Saynt, both described how their days of being fashion outsiders informed the view they now have from the inside.
Fashion and blogging: An uneasy unalliance
As bloggers in most industries can tell you, there was a time when blogging had a stigma attached to it. You can imagine how amplified this stigma was in the world of fashion, where things like pedigree and appearances are paramount.
Torres says that in the era before bloggers were even invited to Paris Fashion Week, she was hired to take photos for a client as a photographer. When she was mistaken for a model herself, her career took off.
“We became big because we were the girl next door, with something to say,” Torres said. “My blog started as a DIY blog. From that, being a DIYer, they wanted to see what I was wearing. It was more about creating content. I had complete freedom to make clothes and then post about what I was wearing.”
Saynt, on the other hand, approached the industry completely from the outside, creating what he called “an independent voice in fashion.”
“Early on, we were controversial. We were big on holding a mirror up to the industry,” he said of FashionIndie.com. After growing the site and selling it, he moved on to become CMO of a fashion label. He’d moved up, and then in.
Reexamining Instagram as a storytelling tool
Meanwhile, Instagram was originally little more than a photo editing tool. That’s how most people saw it: A fun app for adding artsy filters to, generally, otherwise benign photos.
“At first with Instagram, I refused to make it public. I used to edit these things and didn’t want people to see it beforehand. After a year, my business partners told me to make it public. It created this FOMO. It became this big, big social media platform. It went from having to focus just on the blog to Instagram.”
Using Instagram changed how Torres delivered content and told stories. “On Instagram, you only have one photo to tell the story. So it became very streamlined, very fast,” she said.
Saynt found Instagram had storytelling potential for larger businesses as well.
“My big focus was how do I identify this brand as a story, and Instagram was really important for that. Fashion brands wanted to have a conversation. We saw Instagram as the best way to reach out to the audience, the best way to engage. We also saw it had the most potential for growth,” he said.
The algorithm changed the game
Of course, Instagram became something different once it was purchased by Facebook in 2012. The purchase cemented Instagram’s status as the next big thing and gave the platform a relevancy among advertisers and marketers it wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Though Instagram remains mostly its own company and brand, its parent company has influenced operations in subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways. One of the latter was the use of the algorithm to present photos, rather than a chronological showing.
Niche is next
In trying to predict what’s next for Instagram, both Torres and Saynt expect micro-influencers and niche markets to grow in importance and become career paths and marketing targets, respectively.
Most interestingly, they also see something of a full-circle return to blogging as well. “Everyone went to one platform, and now people are craving for different things. More niche topics. I see some people getting back to blogging because you can tell a story. Instagram is instant gratification, but people want more in-depth stories,” said Torres.
Crowd Mobile is a mobile-first company with a world-leading ‘Q&A’ platform, providing personalised expert advice, and a subscription service giving users access to games, infotainment and security products.
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