Less than a decade old, Instagram has become the world’s premiere, mobile social media network. Reaching 1 billion monthly (500 million daily) active users in June 2018, the young platform continues at an astounding rate of growth.
Along with the app’s success, many of the community’s top creators and personalities have flourished as well. With followings ranging from the small thousands to the several millions, Instagram influencers have parlayed their popularity into a variety of successful enterprises on and offline. For businesses, partnering with successful and savvy Instagram influencers can create more opportunities to reach their target audience.
Chelsea Yamase, better known as @chelseakauai, is a Hawaii-based free diver, mountaineer, surfer, and model who documents riveting outdoor adventures for her 623,000 followers on Instagram. Using her fame to launch a second Instagram account, the Chelsea Kauai Book Club, Yamase has also gone on to create the travel blog, The Adventurers Collective, where she offers travel guides, “top lists,” and recipes.
Daniel Fuchs, aka @magic_fox, is a German lifestyle blogger and photographer who originally rose to fame after an image of him taking his off shirt went viral on Instagram. With 1.6 million followers, Fuchs is a regular contributor to The Modern Man blog, where he writes about fitness, travel, and automobiles. Fuchs’s fitness status has also led him to collaborations with the Men’s Health publication.
Author and illustrator, Rupi Kaur, has captivated 2.9 million followers on her Instagram account, @rupikaur_, with her wistful words and drawings. Kaur’s success on the platform helped her debut collection of poetry, “milk and honey,” to become a New York Times bestseller in 2014. Her follow-up collection, “the sun and her flowers,” was published in 2017 and spawned a U.S. reading tour.
A Bikini A Day
Natasha Oakley and Devin Brugman have amassed 610,000 followers with their popular fashion feed @abikiniaday. Posting daily swimwear pictures, Oakley and Brugman have transitioned their Instagram fame into the lifestyle, fashion, and travel blog, The Swim Report, as well as their own clothing and beachwear brand, Monday Swimwear.
Personal trainer, Brock O’Hurn, became an online sensation after photos of his “perfect body” went viral on Instagram. His account, @brockohurn, has gained 2.7 million followers, and has since become a model and actor, starring in several Tyler Perry productions. O’Hurn has also delved into consumer products, co-creating Los Angeles-based jewelry brand Ebb & Flow with Morten Thorup.
Health-minded micro-influencer, Jeannette Ogden aka @shutthekaleup, regularly showcases vibrant images and videos of eats and exercises to more than 283,000 followers on her Instagram feed. Ogden’s collaborations with Health-Ade kombucha, Adidas, and Kohls, have allowed her to monetize her Instagram brand as she looks toward growing her online fame in a natural and organic way. She also recently launched an exclusive capsule collection with Chill By Will, an active fashion brand.
Beginning by producing a doodle per day on her Instagram feed, New York-based writer and illustrator, Mari Andrew @mariandrew, now has more than 915,000 followers. Andrew has gone on to become a Skillshare teacher, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author with her debut book, “Am I There Yet?” Andrew looks to expand her written and illustrative offerings, with plans to release a line of cards in 2019.
Elliot Tebele’s popular meme feed, Fuck Jerry @fuckjerry, has attracted a whopping 113.8 million followers on the largely personality-based platform. Tebele’s sardonic, often edgy, content has distinctively captured the tone of today’s digital culture, allowing him to launch Jerry Media—a multi-million dollar advertising agency, specializing in social media marketing. Tebele and the Fuck Jerry team also sell a variety of products with “ironic” messaging, including t-shirts and novelty gifts, as well as the party game, “What Do You Meme.”
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Instagrammers who’ve turned their social media stardom into successful business ventures have a proven value beyond their Instagram status alone. However, as influencers spend more time and energy on external projects, they run the risk of compromising their own source of fame. For Instagram influencers, ensuring that they continue to provide relevant content to their core audience is key to sustained success on the platform.
Brands working with influencers who’ve created successful businesses often have more opportunities in which to work with them. Instagrammers who’ve gone on to become savvy businesspersons often have a variety of interests and projects that could intersect with a brands’ own interests and business goals. Companies looking to partner with a successful influencer should consider how their goals and resources could help the creator advance their own business goals, so both parties can benefit from the partnership.