Having been an avid Instagram user for a few years now, I remember the days before social media influencers were set for world domination. Now, as I scroll through Instagram of a night time, just before I fall asleep, my feed, stories and dreams are filled with collaborations between brands and influencers promoting clothing, accessories, beauty products and every material object known to man kind.
Shani Grimmond and Lily Brown promote clothing brand Beginning Boutique along with Michael Finch who also promotes tanning solution Bondi Sands. Meanwhile Tammy Hembrow promotes womens sports nutrition brand Women’s Best, photographed holding the product whilst wearing, and, thus, promoting her own activewear label, ‘Saski Collection’. Such collaborations are often times visibly labeled with the caption ‘paid partnership’, confirming that these influencers are, in fact, receiving funds for the advertisement of these products, but, this is not always the case.
Recently, I have become increasingly interested in fashion, photography and videography and have begun to take what I post on Instagram, amongst other social media applications, a lot more seriously. As such, I noticed when I became a more prominent figure on Instagram and my online presence began to grow, like the social media influencers I follow, I too, began to receive DM’s (Direct Messages) from brands, asking me to collaborate with them.
After the initially feeling ‘oh so famous’, I quickly began to notice each brand that had reached out to me was merely offering a discount on their products, rather than a traditional collaboration, involving an exchange of goods for services. While these brands offer potential increased exposure, inclusive of gaining followers and likes, this is likely never achieved by anyone who agrees to such collaborations, as in reality, these brands are asking you to spend money on their products as well as asking you to give THEM exposure by tagging the brand in your posts allowing your followers, usually in excess of 1000 people, to become familiar with the brand.
These misleading messages make instagram users, like myself, believe that in order to gain exposure, they must collaborate with brands with a larger following than themselves. In my opinion, Instagram has become a breeding ground for con artistry. No longer is the application about self-expression, through means of the uploading of images, it is about gaining popularity, presenting false, unrealistic images of ones life to an audience, and instagram has also turned in to a collaboration station, minus the actual collaboration.
Will this stop me from continuing to use the application, taking photos specifically to post on there? Honestly, probably not.