LEAD: Desiree, wHow did you personally discover Instagram for you and what interested you?
Desiree Ricks: I used Instagram for the first time in August 2013. To be honest, it was more of a tactical consideration to sign up there. In 2011, I launched my blog “The Mandarine Girl” and, apart from this platform, did not use any other channels to publish my content. Most bloggers also use Twitter, Facebook, etc., but since I have never been a friend of social media (neither professional nor private), I have tried to avoid it for as long as possible.
Nevertheless, as a blogger, of course, you are under some competitive pressure and as Instagram became more important over time, I signed up in the summer of 2013. In retrospect, of course, that was the right decision, today I like to use Instagram. First, to share my own content with my followers and share them in my travels and, second, to get inspiration from others.
LEAD: What is your motivation to use Instagram today? How has that changed over the years?
Desiree: Instagram is a great platform to connect with people and share content. I use Instagram to inspire my followers, which is much faster and simpler compared to a post on the blog. Of course a lot has changed over the years. It used to be much easier to get new followers, and you got more likes. I think that is partly due to the fact that the market is now oversaturated and you have almost everything in a similar way already seen on other accounts.
My basic motivation is still the same: I want to share my pictures with my subscribers and give them pleasure and be inspired by the content of the accounts I follow.
LEAD: How do you observe the dynamics on Instagram, what has changed, for example, since the introduction of the algorithm?
Desiree: After the algorithm has been introduced and the feed is no longer displayed chronologically, it strikes me that it has become harder to reach. Most of the influencers I know are still not happy about this change – including me. What is striking is that Instagram or the algorithm increasingly posts posts of accounts, with which one often interacts and the selection of posts, which one gets displayed to a large extent based on which accounts you recently frequented, commented and has liked et cetera.
What also struck me is that many influencers have joined so-called “comment groups” in which they comment on each other’s posts in order to achieve better visibility. I also hear again and again that it has been important or beneficial since the introduction of the algorithm, if the comments that users leave behind the photos are long (more than three words), since Instagram rates these interactions positively and the algorithm does that more Reach “rewarded”.
LEAD: What else is there for “tricks” that influencers use to achieve high ranges despite the algorithm, for example?
Desiree: Many instagrammers try to comment on others’ pictures shortly after uploading their pictures in order to get back a lot of comments in the shortest possible time and, of course, get more likes for their picture. This signals Instagram that the content is interesting for many users, the visibility is increased and thus the image is placed further up the feed.
LEAD: There are Instagram users who, for example, participate in loop giveaways, operate bots or increase their user numbers via engagement pods and regular shoutouts. Do you know Instagrammer in Germany who use such tactics and what do you think about it?
Desiree: Using bots is of course not a fair thing. I still know that many Instagrammer do this. From giveaways and shoutouts you can keep what you want, I do not think it’s bad to point out your account, for example by using a “shoutout”. In the end, it’s just a form of advertising, and we all know it’s been extremely hard these days to dig out of the mass of accounts and attract new subscribers. Personally, I know so many great and interesting accounts that I think would make a lot more followers, but simply go down in the crowd. If they join forces with each other and make a shoutout now and then, I think there’s nothing against it.
LEAD: Brands and influencers have a kind of symbiotic relationship. From short product placements to royalties, to revenue sharing in a product sold, to long-term partnerships, what types of collaboration do you know and use?
Desiree: Of course, there are many different ways to cooperate with a company, the best known here are probably the direct compensation for integration and affiliate marketing in the form of pay per click or pay per lead / sale. Personally, I am not a fan of the latter. I would like to receive a previously discussed sum for my service, since I also provide a previously agreed performance. As a self-employed person, just like everyone else, you have to cover your expenses and therefore I just want to calculate exactly what I get for what. Everything else is just too spongy for me.
LEAD: If you’re writing to brands, which business models or offers do you dislike or do you find rather dubious?
As already mentioned, I reject affiliate offers in principle and only enter into cooperations for a direct, previously discussed fee. Dubios and even quite outrageous I find requests in which one is asked “simply so” to write an article about the brand or the product, after all, it would be “interesting content for the readers”. I do not think that’s alright, because who wants to place advertising on a channel – regardless of whether it happens on television, in the newspaper or on a blog or Instagram channel – has to pay for it. We are also service providers and do not want or can not live on air and love. Dubios I also find requests for link exchange, etc., especially since these often come from dubious domains.
LEAD: What brands do you find striking Instagram influencer marketing?
Desiree: There are some brands that work really great and very fairly with influencers. In my opinion Cluse works well and very focused with influencers. I have also cooperated with Daniel Wellington several times, who also do an interesting Influencer Marketing and drive quite well. Even comparatively “small” accounts such as @foreo_de and @mionetto_de have understood well in my opinion how influencer marketing works. In general, one can say that there really are a variety of brands that use influencer marketing well and make fair deals with influencers. Unfortunately, the opposite always strikes me again and again and I see labels that are either unfair or dubious with Instagrammern work or the importance of this channel in terms of increasing their awareness by well-known influencers just have not understood.