In profiles across Instagram of blossoming Instagrammers you’ll see in their bio lines:
- “DM for collabs”
- “Serious business inquiries only”
- “Email firstname.lastname@example.org for collaborations”
But what does collaborating actually mean?
- I’ve gotten several inquiries on @zoraflorasays and through my Amazon account to test out products or produce branding content – This is something that helps companies advertise themselves better and helps me continue to produce content
- I’ve been reposted both on @jonesdoeslife and @zoraflorasays by larger amalgamation accounts (sometimes they ask permission, sometimes they don’t) with my photos or with a request for additional content – This give them content to use and persist* their profile as well helping expose me to their followers
- Occasionally people who are starting up a social website will email saying they want to “collaborate” which means they want more people to sign up for their website – This is a marketing tactic which I haven’t quite decided how I feel about as it seems to mostly benefit the website
*Persisting an account means that the account has increasing engagement and is attracting more followers. For an Instagram account to maintain an audience it has to be posting content on a regular basis (sometimes multiple times a day) both to get exposure to new followers as well as to keep the people following the account engaged.
When I got an email in the early hours of the morning talking about collaboration, I wasn’t surprised.
This email refers to my @zoraflorasays account which has less than 300 followers, so while I thought explaining what seemed obvious (“we have a lot of followers and this can help you”) was overkill, I sensed that there was something more to this than “Can we post your picture?” I noticed that in the midst of the flattery and explanation she put in the word “sponsored”.
Shortly after (Celina is great customer support) she responded:
From the perspective of an Instagram user the prices and statistics she’s selling feel like a scam. Both because of the amount of money, and because there’s no way that they can guarantee any kind of natural follower growth. Based on what I’ve seen from the lifestyle/fashion/beauty community of Instagram, they are much less likely to engage than the computer/programming community. I would rather save my money and continue to organically target potential followers. Additionally, I’ve looked at some of the accounts they’ve posted and engagement (likes on their photos) doesn’t seem to have drastically increased over time even if the photos on the @FashionvLuxury page garner 1000+ likes. I would chalk this up to something I posted about a while ago.
From a business perspective I’m impressed. I’m sure that it took quite a while to build up a base of 106k followers, but the account isn’t required to produce their own content (which is arguably the most time consuming part of a social media account). There are no costs per se – many users will allow amalgamation accounts to use their photos for free in exchange for exposure – and users will apparently pay the account to post their photos. Selling influence purely to promote influence is an interesting concept.
What’s astounding based on their rates (which have no doubt changed over time) is that if even 1/2 of their posts are sponsored (around 1,050 posts) this means they would have made over $37,000. If all of their posts are sponsored this number goes above $70,000. Talk about a great return on investment.