The top four most followed Instagram accounts are all big recording artists (@selenagomez, @taylorswift, @arianagrande, @beyonce). These artists have convinced an enormous amount of people that they are worth following, and as such they all have access to upwards of 75 million sets of eyes whenever they choose to post a picture.
But how did they do it? And what it is about these artists that gets people so excited to hit that ‘follow’ button? Why not actors or sports stars instead?
There are a whole swathe of reasons why these big time artists have been able to produce big time results when it comes on it. Over the short period of just a few years, they’ve managed to make a science out of the social network, with spectacular results.
But what exactly happens behind the curtain on their accounts? Let’s take a peek.
The Social Media Manager
What’s one of the most lucrative professions that someone can get right out of university or college? If you find the right employer, as an A-lister’s Instagram manager, you could be earning upwards of six figures.
But the big money has some big downsides. A non-disclosure agreement will be a requirement, as the artist will be very keen to keep your behind the scenes work a secret, and the job can be a particularly risky one. There have been stories of Instagram managers getting nonsensical texts from their employer on the other side of the world, which they then have to interpret and form a post from. In that case, it’s a matter of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
It’s the definition of a high-pressure job – one bad post and you’re done. But it’s a job that exists for nearly all of the leading Instagram accounts.
The Team of Professionals
While the Instagram manager is the director of the production, you still need a team of players to make a post perfect. Did you think that the photo of the artist in the perfectly fitted swimsuit with the unnaturally blue water in the background just happened? I’m sorry to burst your bubble.
Hair, makeup, wardrobe, lighting; the set of a leading artist’s Instagram photo can look a lot like the set of a Hollywood blockbuster. And then there’s post-production, where every pixel of the image is given a working-over on Photoshop. There may well have been a hair out of place, but don’t worry – it’ll be sculpted right into line.
As Essena O’Neill revealed, the glamour depicted in the photos of Instagram celebrities isn’t often a reflection of the reality.
The Price of Paying an Instagram Influencer
Instagram is big business. For some it is absolutely huge business. The minimalist social media platform is fairly restrictive when it comes to unpaid advertising (Instagram doesn’t allow external links unless you pay to advertise), so putting up an ad that doesn’t come across as an ad can be a tricky business. That’s where Instagram influencers come in.
Our big artists can charge around $230,000 per post for a very minor shout-out to a company. It’s incredible – and for them, incredibly easy – money, for very little effort. It really makes the six-figure salary you may have paid to your Instagram manager pale in comparison. With big followership comes big reward.
The Need to Stay Relevant
As it turns out, the big artists need Instagram just as much as Instagram needs the big artists. A big following reaffirms that they’re relevant, and grants them a monstrous captive audience to sell their next record to. It’s very much in their own interests to keep their Instagram as followable as possible.
They’ve managed to see Instagram for what it is – an opportunity to sell themselves. And they’re doing a fantastic job at doing just that.