David Perell+ Your Authors @david_perell "The Writing Guy" | I tweet about business, online learning, and Internet writing | My Podcast: perell.com/podcast | My writing school: writeofpassage.school/ Apr. 25, 2018 + Your Authors

Instagram Influencers — Explained

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2/ Influencer culture began in the late 90s.

In Asia, influencer culture started on blog platforms such as LiveJournal, Blogspot, and discussion boards.

In the U.S., it was through home webcamming.

Influencer culture spread through diary-like videos and confessional docs.

3/ Influencers are changing the SPEED of STYLE.

Fashion no longer has a central point of view.

Instagram has transformed the flavor of fashion:

1. BRIGHT logos
2. VIVID patterns

Unique and generic at once.

4/ Instagram Economy in one word: photographability.

We’re increasingly attracted to experiences, outfits, and places that look good in pictures.


* Helicopter tours
* Instagrammable restaurants
* Made-for-Instragram Museums


5/ Fashion is no longer dictated from above.

A push and pull between producers and consumers — a two-way dialogue.

Trends arise and are sold back to us in an INSTANT.

Clothes are made for Instagram, purchased on Instagram, and posted back to Instagram.

6/ On Instagram, the line between content and advertising is blurred.

Instagram is an always-on, 24/7 fashion magazine.

On Instagram, we are constantly RATING what we see.

Through hearts, follows, and comments, we’re always VOTING on aesthetics.

7/ The Algorithmic Promise: If you like this, you will get more of it.

Algorithms use this data to prioritize what they think we want.

They evolve over time based on what we engage with — an algorithmic FEEDBACK loop.

Simple formula: If you like this, you’ll like that.

8/ Now, we’re getting algorithmic celebrities.

Miquela is a 19-year old musician who wears Chanel and Supreme, with 700,000 Instagram followers.

But Miquela is actually a virtual, computer-rendered character.


9/ Miquela’s success reminds us that in some ways, machines know us better than we know ourselves.

We’re going through a massive shift from HUMAN taste to DIGITAL taste.

Soon, we’ll have algorithmic friends.

10/ Influencers double as models and guides for modern living.

Through CONSUMPTION, we can learn to live.

When it comes to fashion, influencers serve as beacons of clarity amidst a dizzying sea of trends and styles.

On social media, we’re dictating what aspiration looks like.

11/ Influencers offer the ILLUSION of accessibility.

They FEEL like close friends.

They model how to act and how to look — beacons of complete consumption.

The hope is that through consumption, we can BECOME them.

12/ Key Point: Influencers are under-appreciated and widely misunderstood.

We expect PERSONAL and INTIMATE connections with our favorite influencers.

We want to support them physically, financially, and emotionally.

Influencers feel like best friends — SOULMATES.


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1. @chaykak
2. @drewaustiin
3. @_reallifemag
4. @CaseyNewton


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