It’s joyful to give. But for people who want to take advantage of you, you’re kind of an easy mark. —Larry King
Instagram, the photo-sharing app that has made models out of ordinary people and created a whole new fascination with photo filters, may have just killed its primary advantage for fashion labels.
For the past several seasons, fashion PR folk have seen posting photos to Instagram as being the next best thing to live streaming, and a hell of a lot cheaper. From streetstyle to behind the scenes and, in many cases such as this season’s Saint Laurent show in Paris, the actual presentation itself, labels have taken advantage of the large audiences and real-time posting to communicate and share pictures with an adoring public. Instagram has been a critical part of creating excitement around brands and getting information about new styles pushed out to consumers in ways that traditional advertising can’t equal.
That may all come to an end soon, though, as Instagram, like Twitter and Facebook before it, moves from a chronologically based timeline to one that attempts to guess what each user likes the most. The concept is that most users miss the vast majority of what’s in their feed by not being on the app when the new material is posted. By using an algorithm that considers what one has liked, with whom they communicate, and what their previous activity has been, Instagram hopes to provide users with a feed that more accurately reflects their actual interest. For users, it sounds like a good idea.
As an article in Business of Fashion explains this morning, fashion brands and retailers may not see the move as an advantage, though. At the very least, they are going to have to reconsider and perhaps revamp how they utilize the app. If users are looking for real-time content, they may have difficulty finding it. During those times of year when multiple designers are releasing tons of new photos onto Instagram at the same time, finding the feed for the brand one wants may be almost impossible. So much for there being an advantage to the app!
If fashion labels can’t get the bang off Instagram to which they’ve grown accustomed, they’re likely to drop the app quickly. There are many others who have been looking to snatch up that fashion week business, specifically Snapchat and Periscope, both of which can provide real-time streaming without the expense incurred with major production costs. Already, during the past two seasons we’ve seen several brands replace high-dollar streaming with an intern holding an iPhone. If they lose the primary advantage of using Instagram, why would they continue?
Obviously, fashion is but a part of an immense network on Instagram, but the ripple effect could be significant. One of the apps big draws is for perspective models to take a chance at being discovered by an ad agency, modeling firm, or fashion label. With the real-time factor removed, none of those industries are as likely to see new models as quickly, if at all, based upon how Instagram interprets the brand’s interest.
There’s a lot at stake here and I’m not sure the folks at Instagram thought through the decision all that well. Be sure, fashion PR people will be giving their whole Instagram campaigns a second look now. Without the real-time advantage, other live apps start to look a lot better.