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Instagram now claims a greater active user base (over 400 million, according to Instagram) than the population of the United States, and many of the platform’s top content creators (called “Instagrammers“) command the attention of millions of engaged users. By providing a way for companies to access and work with a roster of and/or pre-selected and registered social media stars, Instagram influencer networks seek to provide reach within large, niche-interested marketing segments and, in some cases, a possible conduit through which both Instagrammers and brands can communicate, collaborate, and create branded or brand-sponsored content. Before partnering with an Instagram influencer network, however, companies should know and evaluate both the advantages and drawbacks of working with these organizations.
An Instagram influencer network is a professional organization that seeks to manage Instagram influencers and facilitate influencer marketing collaborations between the platform’s social media stars and brands seeking to leverage an Instagrammer’s large reach and influential status. Like YouTube MCNs, Instagram influencer networks evaluate each company’s specific needs, then help select the right influencer (or group of influencers) from their network who they believe) will be able to produce positive returns and create the most relevant, far-reaching photos and/or videos. Instagram influencer networks often operate within specific niche categories, too, signing only Instagrammers that fit within a particular advertising vertical and thus establishing the network as the “go-to” influencer marketplace for a certain niche.
Instagram influencer networks provide access to enlisted Instagrammers with varying numbers of followers and a possible record of engagement (many networks display an Instagrammer’s “vanity metrics” to help brands perform cursory assessments of each influencer). On the Instagrammer side, Instagram influencer networks aim to provide talent management and assist content creators in finding sponsorship opportunities. The most hands-on networks may even help brands organize their influencer marketing campaigns.
Kitten, Instafluence, Cycle, and The Mobile Media Lab are all examples of networks dedicated solely to giving brands access to their stable of Instagram influencers. Traditional publishers like GQ and Refinery29 have recently taken to developing influencer networks as well. Refinery29’s network, called “Here and Now,” has already enlisted big-name clients like Smashbox Studios and Instagrammers like Danielle Bernstein and Justina Blakeney.
Because Instagram influencer networks have a roster of Instagrammers, these organizations may elide the process of finding, vetting, and recruiting social media stars. Formalized legal contracts, pricing tables, and established communication channels can also make working with top Instagrammers through Instagram influencer networks easier for brands, though the limitations posed by a network’s roster (Instagram influencer networks can only recommend Instagrammers from their pool of stars) can hinder the success of most campaigns. Other shortcomings of networks include:
Software, tools, and comprehensive influencer marketing platforms like FameBit (which focus on many different types of social media influencers, not only Instagrammers) can provide services and facilitate the development of effective influencer marketing campaigns, though these options each come with their own drawbacks and limitations. For brands that want to see their Instagram and other social media influencer campaigns succeed (i.e. reach millions of new or existing consumers, expand brand awareness, drive sales, etc.), enlisting the expertise of a full-service influencer marketing agency can help companies not only find the perfect Instagrammer but also develop a comprehensive campaign specifically designed to maximize ROI and achieve predetermined campaign goals.