Gathered from my interest in food blogging, I have established a gap in the market for an active Sutherland Shire based foodie Instagram account. To fill this gap, I have shaped the Instagram account ‘@foodsfordayss’ promoting a variety of mod cafes and restaurants in the Sutherland Shire, as well as endorsing products and personal recipes. The project has underpinned the value of persona through the communication and maintenance of relationships created on media platforms, like Instagram. Progression with my project showed to continually question what it takes to become a successful Instagram influencer, prompting my interest to discover the practical ways to increase an Instagram following, and successful strategies to engage with users. Proceeding with the topic of ‘How to become a successful Instagrammer’ has driven research on the areas ‘Influencer Marketing’, ‘Online Persona’, ‘Content Creators vs Curators’, and ‘Presentation Self’. Conducting research on these topics has directed the experimentation undergone for my digital artifact.
Influencer marketing is defined as “the identification and use of specific key individuals who hold influence over potential buyers of a brand or product to aid in marketing activities” (Brown, Duncan, & Hayes 2008). Use of influencer marketing on Instagram has shown to significantly grow positive brand attitudes through the ability to communicate to a large segment of people in a short period of time. Company’s seeking to use Instagram influencers to market their goods have the capability to select a niche audience segment. Therefore, this leads to a mutual relationship between a brand and the influencer expended (Evans, J et al. H 2017, p.139). Swedish company ‘Daniel Wellington’ was one of the first brands that understood the potential of influencer marketing. Selling minimalistic quartz watches, the brand identified a variety of Instagram influencers and sent them watches as a present, the only requirement was to post one photo of the watch on their feed. Since the company’s establishment, the brand has made $220 million in profit relying wholly on influencer marketing. The brand has produced “almost a million posts on Instagram tagged #danielwellington, there are 3.5K posts on the Daniel Wellington page, which means that the rest was posted by the brand’s followers” (Mottola, I 2016). Similarly, @foodsfordayss projects an aspect of influencer marketing through the implementation of promoting company sent products. By taking pictures of the products I get sent and posting them with an appropriate caption on ‘how I use it’ or ‘why I like it’ this acts as a promotion to my followers. Therefore, the initiative taken by the companies sending me the products is an influencer marketing strategy.
Online Persona can be prescribed as the way in which a user articulates their identity through the exchange of communal photographs influenced by behaviour and self-beliefs (Halpern, D Katz, J Carril, C 2017, p.117). I have accomplished the importance to create an online representation of my personality through the choice of image quality, filters, captions, and engagement I make on the Instagram account. By experimenting with camera angles and lighting I have created an aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed composed of bright visuals using clear/engaging images. Applying my personality in what I caption the photos, and how I edit them I am leaning away from the habitual food pages on Instagram and instead, giving it a unique and individualised appeal. An important component of @foodsfordayss online persona is the profile picture. I try to minimise the amount of times the profile picture is changed as this is the primary source my followers use to identify the account. Therefore, I consistently make sure the profile picture is a clear/bright image. Online persona is presented on Instagram through Manovich’s classification of the necessity to have a style/theme to an Instagram feed e.g. colour theme (Manovich, L 2016, p.13). Manovich articulates the importance of structure within Instagram posts, intending no two photos next to each other have similar aesthetics, instead alternate between a few aesthetics in a systematic way (Manovich, L 2016, p.15). With reference to these guidelines I have experimented with the degree of filters used on my images to allow for a “formal temporal rhythm, alternating between compositions” (Manovich, L 2016, p.15) on my Instagram’s feed. Minimising the quantity of filters used on my images prompt’s a natural appeal, which Spoon University has revealed as a strategy for receiving more Instagram followers. The University disclose that using natural lighting and regularly posting on Instagram are fundamental for success (Baird, A Jackmauh, S 2015) as followers can relate easier to your content.
There is a large metamorphosis between Content Creators and Content Curators. Content Creators are “influencers who have built audiences around their unique creations, personality, talents, and voice” (Cole, N 2017), whereas Shamina classifies Content Curators to have a goal to not duplicate content but to instead structure it by locating relevant information to share with the community (2015, p.1092). I classify myself as a content curator through the promotion of company sent products, as well as publicity of restaurant/café’s I have visited. This conclusion has been made through the similarities I have noticed between my account @foodsfordayss and @healthyfitnessmeals run by Rena Awada. Awada shares her own recipes on her account, as well as scouring Instagram feeds for other user’s recipes and photos to share on her page. Likewise Awada, I have implemented recipe’s I have created at home on @foodsfordayss, this contrasts with the posts I create on the restaurants/cafes I have eaten at. This strategy allows curators to share posts that are uniquely “you”, together with keeping your audience engaged by recognising other people’s content. This approach coexists alongside ‘online persona’ as it contributes to the way in which the audience perceives the content being presented.
The idea of Self Presentation is a complex phenomenon allowing individuals to express themselves in performance of social roles and expectations (Olberding, A 2015 p.692). Understanding the implementation of self presentation on @foodsfordayss is crucial, as users acquire this when making an impression of the account. The idea that content controls what you perceive is acknowledged through this notion about the overall presentation of an account (Raikka, J 2016, p.214). A theory discovered by Goffman labels self presentation as a way people present themselves in a theatrical and idealized self (Zavattaro, S 2013, p. 515), therefore the application of hashtags will enhance my engagement and overall account aesthetic in this manner. After commencing this task, I discovered the impact hashtags made on my posts by enriching my followers Instagram experience and broadening networks. Hashtags are specifically implemented on social media to promote a trending topic or provide additional perspectives and recent updates to content ideas (Alam, M Woo-Jong, R SangKeun, L 2017, p.1528). As well as hashtags, self presentation is also influenced by the way I communicate with former accounts. Through consistent engagement using commenting, and liking as the main sources I achieve a wider audience span, and other accounts grasp my personality through the way I communicate. For example, by commenting on another page’s food image “wow that looks delicious!” many users visualise the positive affluence associated with my page and therefore become interested in the content I am curating.
The development of Instagram has had the ability to make any food object more photogenic. Instagram has infiltrated our lives with photogenic meals, as well as making every design aspect of a restaurant appealing (Janzer, C 2017). Instagram has a “particularly wide-ranging spectrum of publicness” (Moore et al. 2017) empowering users to project their ideal self through building a public reputation that represents their online persona. Conclusively the result of my digital artifact has articulated thorough research within the topic of becoming a successful Instagramer, consequently improving the success of my Instagram account @foodsfordayss. Instagram stands as a strong, and sustainable media platform to pursue food blogging on, allowing the expression of online persona to be maintained through the way one presents themselves by their choice of content. Thus, the term ‘medium is the message’ is foreseen as a content curator/creator through the content which influences your follower’s perception of your persona.
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