Is Instagram the most valuable social media platform of all?

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Instagram has dominated the press this week. There’s the fashion bloggers like Danielle Bernstein who make thousands per stylishly sponsored post, the gay community who share content about being out and proud coining hashtags like #InstaGay, and the new-age foodies who frame and filter their feasts to the delight of their followers.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words – so it’s clear to see why Instagram is being used as a form of micro-blogging by the socially savvy and when used successfully, can reap big rewards.

Take Joe Wicks AKA @TheBodyCoach, for example. Allegedly Joe can make up to £1M a month selling his food and workout plans that he popularised on Instagram using the (now cult-like) #LeanIn15 hashtag. Then across the pond is the hugely popular personal trainer @Kayla_itsines, who boasts 3.6M followers and sells her Bikini Body Guide programme predominantly through her Instagram feed. Uploading daily transformation pictures of girls using her #BBG programme has led to a micro fitness revolution – where fans of the trainer have come together to share their own fitness journeys with the help of hashtags like #KaylasArmy #BBGgirls and #DeathbyKayla (hinting at the intensity of her now infamous resistance workouts).

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But it’s not just those who have millions of followers who are turning their Insta feed into a revenue stream. Even some of the smaller lifestyle bloggers can command upwards of £300 for a simple post – despite the world of sponsored content still being seen as somewhat murky waters. Only a handful of Instagram users will label paid-for content with #spon or #ad, leaving it unclear whether the product they’re endorsing is something they personally love or something they’ve been paid to post about.

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For all the money that can be made on a platform that can sometimes be viewed as a breeding ground for the vacuous and vain – Instagram does do some good. An article in this month’s Observer Tech Monthly has highlighted how the gay community is using Instagram to support gay rights, celebrate milestones such as the legalisation of gay marriage and offering a sense of belonging to gay users – in a way that Twitter and its influx of trolls has failed to do in the past.

Whatever your views on Instagram are, it’s safe to say the platform isn’t going away any time soon.