Instagram reigns supreme for fashion and beauty influencers

Instagram claimed the top spot in a recent Zine survey asking influencers worldwide what their preferred social media channels were, favored by almost 80% of respondents.
 

Chiara Ferragni was among the first generation of social media influencers and has since gone on to launch her own brand - Instagram: @chiaraferragni

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform, which was cited by 78% of the 1,000 influencers surveyed across all categories as their primary channel for collaborating with brands and interacting with followers, came in first by a solid margin, with blogs claiming the number two spot with a comparatively paltry 16%. Youtube and Facebook came in third and fourth, cited by 4% and  2% of respondents, respectively.
 
Reporting for eMarketer.com, Rahul Chadha stated “Influencers likely favor Instagram because it provides an easy way to leverage their followings in service of brand campaigns. Generating branded content can be as easy as posing with a product, especially ones that have a strong visual appeal.”
 
Little wonder then that a recent study from analytics platform Klear reported that the number of worldwide influencer posts on Instagram nearly doubled to just over 1.5 million from 2016 to 2017.
 
However, the same report also offered some more nuanced data concerning the demographics most likely to operate as influencers on the platform, revealing an overwhelming skew towards female millennials and gen Z-ers.
 
Almost three quarters of Instagram influencers were found to be between the ages of 18 and 34, while 42% of them fell into the 18-24 age bracket. Women were found to represent 84% of the influencer community on the platform.

Chadha pondered whether this demographic weighting had something to do with the most popular categories to feature in promotional posts on Instagram, namely fashion and accessories, followed by beauty and cosmetics. Indeed, according to Klear’s report, the fashion and accessories industry alone accounted for a quarter of all sponsored posts on the platform in 2017.
 
The aesthetic particularities of the core products in these industries also likely contribute to Instagram’s continued popularity among influencers and the brands that sponsor them. The platform’s uncontested reign in fashion and beauty contrasts with new marketing strategies being explored in other sectors – consumer electronics brands, for example, which, according to analysis carried out by L2, have been slowly but surely shifting their focus onto other social media channels such as Facebook and Youtube, which allow them to promote long-form content, including videos and livestreams, to larger captive audiences.
 
Unlike the performance and experience-based goods that form the basis of consumer electronics, the vast majority of products sold in the fashion and beauty industries do not require extensive video presentations to create impact, and a well shot Instagram photo can capture much of a product’s visual appeal in one easily accessible and shareable image.
 
The influencer boom is not without its problems, though. As with many new digital-media-enabled commercial activities, lawmakers have been playing catch-up as they try to regulate influencers’ interactions with their followers, and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now requires sponsored posts to be labelled as such. However, the Zine survey found that only around half of influencers operating on Instagram were using the recommended #sponsored or #ad hashtags.
 
Perhaps it was for this reason that the FTC felt the need to provide clearer guidelines towards the end of last year, stating that influencers should be disclosing the exact nature of their financial relationship with a brand and that they should favor unambiguous disclosures over vague hashtags.

Around the same time, the Commission sent a number of warning letters to influencers including Naomi Campbell and Lucy Hale in a crackdown on what it deemed to be deceptive marketing practises.
 
In fact, it would also appear to be in a brand’s best interests to encourage transparency among its affiliated influencers, as FTC policy puts the onus squarely on companies to monitor their marketing networks. Furthermore, as authenticity continues to be a buzzword for brands targeting the key demographics most active on Instagram, a lack of transparency could quickly disillusion a group of consumers who hold the companies they patronize to increasingly high ethical standards.
 
Nevertheless, even as brands diversify their marketing strategies in an attempt to keep up with rapidly changing consumer habits, one thing is for sure: Instagram continues to reign supreme for fashion and beauty influencers – for now.
 
Both Zine's “Influencer marketing report: Science, Strategy & Success” and Klear's "The State of Influencer Marketing 2018" report are available to download on the platforms' respective websites.

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