Research Proposal

Instagram:  Changing the Marketing Perspective

How does advertising through prominent Instagram users have a changing effect on marketing in the online environment?

Research Proposal

  1. Initiation (prepare to select a topic / trend, start looking and discussing possible approaches. In this phase you are aware that you lack understanding and that there is a gap in your knowledge)

We were thinking about several trends such as Segways, insurance comparison websites, Air BnB, and Instabloggers earning money through advertising consumer products. We decided for the later, as the topic is rather new and we think there is still lots to discover. We definitely wanted to focus on a trend that evolves around the internet, as digital research is cost and time effective. Furthermore, we are convinced that most trends evolve through the internet.

After deciding on the topic, we agreed that monitoring famous or popular Instabloggers is the most effective to see how products are presented. We also want to search for patterns in the profiles to discover why the Individuals are so popular and have so many followers. Agreeing on these guidelines lead us to a more focused research.


  1. Selection (you select the general topic/trend and approach and you start searching for information; preliminary research)

We decided to choose the latest internet phenomenon of Instagram users advertising for consumer products such as shoes, beauty products, beverages and food and much more. We found that the trend is very contemporary and opened a whole new way, for the marketer, of approaching the target consumer and the adjacent marketing strategy. We understand however that it is a fairly new trend and not many people are actively participating and advertising products on Instagram yet. We want to find out how many people actually do this, are there more female than male Instabloggers, and what are the main brands that are being endorsed? We also want to see if this trend has any actual traction, and can affect other prominent social media platform users to advertise for companies.


  1. Exploration (you roughly search for information; you are still searching for your focus)

Vlogging, Viners, Youtube Pranksters and Stars, Instabloggers are all keywords that had emerged from our preliminary desk research. These are ordinary people that have decided to open a channel, blog or any other public space to share thoughts and ideas and have managed to attract thousands to millions of people around the globe. The question we have to ask ourselves is, why are these people so popular, are they mainly male or female, what brands are they advertising, and what kind of products are the most commonly advertised? Is it their journalistic voice that attracts the people, or is it their particular strong outfits and choice of appearance. Jamie Feldman of The Huffington Post writes that fashion bloggers are essentially “branding themselves.” Feldman writes that bloggers aren’t pretending to be journalists, but they’re adopting a certain persona or trait that makes them stand out, which is highly attractive for designers or brands to endorse their products on their blog.

Reading more articles and researching the background of the top fashion Instagramers in the world two keywords words emerge almost in every interview or article: Product placement and Affiliate Links. With these two new search terms we managed to find a company that helps bloggers to earn money. This is how affiliate links work: “When you click on an affiliate link (which, for the most part, looks just like a normal product link), the program drops a cookie on your computer. If you purchase anything from that site–even if it’s not the same product that the blogger was originally featuring–the referrer (aka the blogger) will make money off of it. And thanks to affiliate link companies like RewardStyle, which have partnered with nearly every major retailer (ShopBop, Nordstrom, Barneys, etc.,), bloggers can find pretty much any product they could possibly want to feature on the program. The idea is that they’d be featuring the products anyway”. So through this affiliate links Instabloggers manage to have a constant steady income without doing much besides keep their following happy and loyal. Another way of earning money is brand partnerships, however bloggers usually get a one-time payment of perhaps more substantial amounts of money.


  1. Formulation

How does advertising through prominent Instagram users have a changing effect on marketing in the online environment?


  1. Presentation


Review of research literature

Bergström, T., & Bäckman, L. (2013, June 3). Marketing and PR in Social Media : How the utilization of Instagram builds and maintains customer relationships. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from

SuganthaLakshmi, T., Dr., & Saravanakumar, M., Dr. (2012). Social Media Marketing. Life Science Journal, 9(4), 4444-4451. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from


Bergström and Bäckman have a very legitimate claim, saying that we as consumers are not as gullible anymore to respond to certain styles of advertisements and marketing. We are individuals, with individual needs and through the internet are able to “cherry pick” advertisements and brands we want to be exposed to. Instagram rides the wave of online user generated content and targets trend driven individuals that bring the product closer to the people. Also Dr. Saravanakumar claims that many people feel cheated by misleading advertisements and would rather accept a product suggestion by a fellow consumer. Through popular Instabloggers, with thousands of followers, companies and brands are able to bring the product closer to the people for them to identify themselves with.  This shows us that the marketing through social media platforms, such as Instagram, make the approach much more personalized and focused.

Goode, H. (2015, March 19). Bustle. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from

Phelan, H. (2013, August 20). HOW PERSONAL STYLE BLOGGERS ARE RAKING IN MILLIONS. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from

These two online articles provide us with a simple yet understandable explanation of how exactly these Instabloggers earn money. Through Affiliate links, the blogger is able to earn money through single clicks on promotions, offerings and individual sales. With every product sold through the advertisement on the Instagram profile, the blogger/model cashes in a commission that has been previously negotiated with the company or a third party publishers such as RewardStyle. Another way is to be a “brand ambassador” and endorse one brand and focus only on the products of one particular brand. Also here the blogger/model makes a contract with the company at hand and earns a monthly set salary and is not dependent on the amount of products sold. What becomes evident however is in order to become a money earning Instablogger/model is that you already need a large and loyal group of followers and have some substantial amount of likes to show for.


Reference the most important contributions of other scientists.

Tips for Working With Blogger Advocates [Infographic]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2016, from

This article contains a very clear infographic for brands who want to work with blogger advocates to spread the word about their brand. The article says a blogger advocate should have a social reach of 2,500 to 25,000, a highly engaged audience and an interest in brands that reflect his or her’s audience interest.The infographic is about blogger advocacy, verticals and how to work with them. The most popular verticals are:

  1. Parenting(23,56%)
  2. Food(21.33%)
  3. Women’s lifestyle(20.66%)
  4. Entertainment(19.10%)
  5. Consumer Interest(9.68%)
  6. Fashion(8.25%)
  7. Beauty(6.07%)
  8. Healthy living(5.88%)
  9. Tech(4.80%)
  10. Design/DIY(3.77%)
  11. Men’s lifestyle(3.91%)
  12. Travel(3.17%)
  13. Sports(2.46%)
  14. Music(2.25%)
  15. Auto(1.03%)

*Percentage of bloggers focused on each topic area

The infographic contains more information about crossovers between blogging verticals and tips for working with different blogger verticals.


Jadhav, M. N., Kamble, M. R., & Patil, M. M. (n.d.). Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Trends. Retrieved from

At page 48, figure 5 shows the business-customer relationship when the idea of a higher calling is introduced. The higher calling forms a common bonding point for the Company and the Customer. This creates a very powerful linkage which transcends the basic brand-consumer relationship.


Discuss the theoretical scope or the framework of ideas that will be used to back the research.

The theory is quite general because it is widely applicable.It is a theory that encompasses a wide range of communicative interactions. We discuss a theoretical framework to demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts relevant to our topic which also relate to broader areas of knowledge being considered.


Demonstrate that you are fully conversant with the ideas you are dealing with and that you grasp their methodological implications.

We are looking for the reason why Instagram has this effect on marketing. What affect role models have, why people buy a certain product just because an Instagram account, that has a lot of followers, promotes that product. This may be seen as “manipulation” because “people want to be more like them”. We, as Instagrammers see this person as an example, an image of how we want to be. In order for us to become more like this famous instagram person, we buy the same products and copy their lifestyles (partly). These famous Instagrammers are asked to promote products from all sorts of brands. This can be seen as manipulation.

We are all well aware how this works because the ones that Instagram see this “process” on a daily basis.


Indicate the open problem which then will be the motive for your project. State clearly how your research will contribute to the existing research.

We want to change the marketing perspective by advertising. The question we ask ourselves is “How does advertising through prominent Instagram users have a changing effect on marketing in the online environment?”

Instagram changes the way companies target people and therefore a perspective that proves that we are no longer a big gullible group that can be attracted through old fashioned styles of marketing, but we want to feel involved and feel like it was entirely our choice to follow/buy/like etc. Through instagram models brands are able to market directly to the people who choose to like a certain style, clothes etc


Find more sources and summarize them.

Source 1:

Wharton, Stephanie. (September 21, 2015). 4 Ways Instagram Has Changed Fashion Marketing. Retrieved from:

The photo-sharing app’s impact on the fashion industry has been deemed so influential that it was bestowed an award. Indeed, Instagram has given fashion figures and fans alike the ability to share and consume content like never before. Fashion figures can easily provide their audiences with behind-the-scenes peeks of their shows and works in progress. Fans, on the other hand, can experience exclusive events without actually being in attendance and receive in-depth looks into the lives of their favorite designers.

Instagram changed fashion marketing because, firstly, offline and online events merge into 1. Secondly, imaged focused blogs make waves. Thirdly, repurposing fashion is now a must. Finally, fan images thrive on ecommerce sites.


Source 2:

Brunning, Robert. (June 9, 2015). Your Instagram Feed Is About To Change: Paid Advertising On The Way. Retrieved from:

“Advertisers also want to target their messages in more effective ways and reach people not just because of their age, location and gender, but because of the people, places and things they love.” This is why Instagram is starting with a new project where companies can advertise on Instagram without advertising through an Instagram “It-Girl”. Instagram needs to take into account that they do not place too many advertisements because The appeal of Instagram is viewing visually beautiful imagery, so the prospect of “ugly” ads could greatly dissatisfy the end user.


Think of two or more methodologies that could help us discover deeper information (ex. In-depth interview, focus groups, hashtag scraper etc.)

We want to find out about social trends, use large datasets and undertake quantitative data analysis. Our preferred philosophical approach is realist. Our analysis will be primarily quantitative but to discover deeper information In-depth interviews should be held. For example with the prominent Instagram Users, to question how they got where they are today, if they were approached by the brand or the brand approached them etc. These interviews can also be held with the Viners, Bloggers and Youtube stars. To gather data we will use desk research.


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