Instagram influencers are not marketing tools worthy of investment

In Business & Tech, Opinion
A photo illustration of a wooden board that has a phone, notebook, pens and coffee mug on it.
(Emily Mifflin / Daily Titan)

It seems as though there has never been a point in time when the fabricated strands of virtual, web-based social networking platforms have not been inextricably tied to business.

After all, in today’s technologically dependent society, generating a considerable amount of wealth may only be a few clicks away for the few who can manipulate social media —  something which businesses ought to be wary of, as a generation of social media influencers continue to dominate online marketing and advertising spheres.

Despite the possibility of such circles being particularly susceptible to a level of influence that may not line up with reality.  

Instead, businesses looking to use social media as a platform for expanding their online presence need to utilize tools which provide more accurate information about online users and their habits. This ensures more sound investments that are rooted in data, analytics and marketing strategies that don’t rely on something fickle like follower counts or perceived power of influence.          

In particular, the social media networking platform, Instagram, a Facebook-owned entity that allows its users to explore, create and share a cornucopia of visual content, has become a cyberspace gold mine for both fledgling companies and established brands in more recent years.

As if emboldened letters on neon-colored signs said, “going out of business sale,” in retail shop windows were not enough to make it evidently clear, Instagram has been on the right side of a steadying online business trend for quite some time.

Instagram made major strides three years ago to capitalize on its ability to facilitate online entrepreneurial endeavors by pioneering the launch of premium, pay-to-play business accounts.

This allowed for individuals to create and maintain business centered accounts, according to a 2016 TechCrunch article.

With the advent of a new avenue for users to opt in to business-focused accounts, Instagram sought to give greater emphasis and access to features such as, “the ability to turn Instagram posts into ads directly from the Instagram app,” or the ability to have access to up-to-date data on ad interactions, audience demographics, and other pertinent analytical information, all at the swipe of a screen.

In this way, Instagram has given businesses the necessary data and tools to understand user habits through easily accessible snippets of consumer data. This is something that many successful businesses have used to their advantage in marketing and advertising, a practice that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.  

By Nov. 2017, the popular social media platform had already clocked an excess of 25 million business accounts, and had internal data that suggested over 200 million people had visited, “at least one Business Profile daily.”

With such a vast reach and the numbers to back it up, Instagram had debatably created a comprehensive business experience for user entrepreneurs to legitimately thrive on.

Yet, on the other hand, the underlying numbers neglected to reflect a critical component of the Instagram business model that might have had as much of a positive influence on shaping the business side of Instagram as  the esteemed entrepreneurial accounts – the power of influence.

The rise of the social media influencer undoubtedly had an impact on the success of social media business, marketing and advertising, with Instagram being the highly-popularized norm rather than the exception.

With the meteoric rise of such an impactful, and potentially harmful, online authority, influencers forced the hands of several companies to bandwagon the trend of shelling out large amounts of money to social media users with a hefty online following.

Despite the follower counts and the enormous online footprint, the question of whether or not influencers can be an entirely trustworthy investment is always looming.

What really hides behind the number in the followers column can often be a mystery or a hassle to accurately pin down, especially when the numbers begin to exceed quadruple and quintuple digits.

In this sense, Instagram entrepreneurs and the future of Instagram business pages might have better luck in the long run by putting their chips on the innovative system that the social media site doles out to willing participants for free.

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