Companies turn to students to market products on Instagram

Published 10:16 am Friday, June 23, 2017

By Grayson Baird

The Media Rewind

In the last few years, marketers have begun to increasingly use Instagram to promote their products among consumers within certain demographics.

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For many businesses, the most important benefit of advertising is creating a social media presence. Ads that appear online or in magazines may be seen by many, but having a product promoted by someone on their own personal page reflects reliability.

Hannah Sanders and Elizabeth Arthur, both University of Mississippi business marketing majors, have been approached by several companies to market certain beauty and fashion products on Instagram.

Over time, the two have acquired more IG followers because of the way they post and advertise themselves and products. When each of the companies saw how many people had discovered their Instagram accounts, they approached both hoping they will influence consumers to follow their trends.

Both Sanders and Arthur have obtained thousands of followers on Instagram, but they have acquired these fans in different ways.

Arthur said she gained fame because of her friendship with Brielle Biermann, the daughter of Troy and Kim Biermann from the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Arthur has promoted companies such as FabFitFun Boxes and Curtsy Fashion, based out of Oxford.

Sanders, from Denver, Colorado, became instafamous when she went to live with a family member for a semester.

“I became popular on Instagram after I moved to Hawaii my sophomore year of high school,” Sanders said. “I am a normal college student who obtained my followers by posting cool pictures, and I think that is what has made me relatable to my followers and beneficial to the companies that reach out to me.”

Sanders said her followers quickly became interested in her daily routines and word spread, leaving her with more than 30,000 followers.

Companies, such as Glamglow, Kind Bars and TRIWA watches are some of the brands that have asked Sanders to post about their products because of her photography skills.

Advertisers reach college kids

Advertisers have found that the best way to gain respectability is to reach out to popular Instagrammers, who are not seen as celebrities, but maintain and update their pages according to current trends.

Many companies have discovered that reaching out to certain people within particular communities is more effective when trying to reach their specific target audience

“A company might benefit using me to appeal to teens and college students,” Sanders said, “while if they were trying to reach an older audience, I would not be as useful.”

Consumers tend to trust recommendations that come from another source rather than the company itself. Influencers like Sanders and Arthur bring attention to their audience.

“The types of things I am asked to promote tend to be products that would actually interest or benefit my friends and followers,” Arthur said. “Girls these days get a lot of inspiration for the things they buy from the posts they see on social media.”

While celebrities have a wide range of consumers who track their posts, it also comes with a cost. It can be hard for companies to maintain budgets to keep current celebrity clientele.

Many brands have discovered it is more resourceful to use community members, who will represent their products for free or at a minimal price to reach their same target audience.

Many companies can focus on a specific demographic when they advertise by going through more relatable sources, rather than celebrities.

One single photo followed by a caption that mentions the company’s brand or product has the ability to get the attention of 8,000 to 30,00 viewers.

The Media Rewind is a media commentary and criticism website produced by mass communication students enrolled in J101 at The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media.