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Instagram Models: How Instagram is Changing the Modeling Industry


Model Kendall Jenner who has 70 million Instgram Followers and Model Gigi Hadid who has 27 Million Followers

A little bit over a year ago, people were making fun of “Instagram” models, saying that they were only popular on Instagram, they really had no careers etc… Well, fast forward to today and the game has change, hasn’t it? Instagram has more influence that people thought, it has become one of the most used social media platforms in the fashion industry. Models have been discovered by brands on Instagram and many people have careers because of it. Now don’t get me wrong, not everyone has been successful on that platform.

I was speaking to a few model friends recently and one of them said that she was only booked for a modeling job because she had a big Instagram following, they actually told her that on set, while she was working with a big brand. Another said that she did not book the gig because she had less than 10k followers. Modeling agents are pressuring models to increase their social media presence and numbers because it could get them more jobs. Is this what the modeling world has come to? Likes and Followers? It is all a numbers game now.

I remember reading a press release a few months back about Gigi Hadid collaborating with Tommy Hilfiger and it said that they were trying to bring the Tommy brand to a new generation (which makes sense) and that Gigi had a huge social media following and that is one of the reasons why they wanted to work with her. Of course, Gigi is beautiful and having 27 million Instagram followers doesn’t hurt either but is that fair? She is a celebrity with rich parents and rich friends. You can’t tell a girl who just got started modeling, who is not a celebrity and may come from a small town, that if she doesn’t get her social media numbers up she won’t book any gigs? How can this girls compete with the Gigis and Kendall Jenners of the Instagram world?. They can’t.

@voguejapan x @luigiandiango x @anna_dello_russo

A photo posted by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

The only thing that worries me about this is that real talent could be overlooked because brands and modeling agents are playing the numbers game. As a Fashion Blogger, I understand the power of numbers but I also understand the power of influence. In my opinion, it is better to have 10k followers that are engaged and that you can influence than have 1 million followers that are not connected to you. It is all about perception and I get that too. It also doesn’t help that Facebook and Instagram are playing with Algorithms and making it harder for people to connect. Social media was created to connect the world and now they want us to pay to be connected, ironic, ha!! but that is going to be a separate article, let’s get back to modeling.

If I was a model, I would be a bit dishearten that I am not being booked on my talent but on the fact that I have a big social media following. I was even watching America’s Next Top Model the other night and they asked one of the models how many followers did she had. Zendaya was a guest on the show this week and the winner of the week’s challenge got to take a Selfie with Zendaya because it would be great to “Get Those Numbers Up”.

My only advice to you guys is to be authentic. Post only things that make you who you are, that are sincere. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook etc…Are just an extension of who you are. It is always great to look back at the moments, trips you took, things you did but don’t force it. Posting naked pictures of yourself for likes will get you a few followers but in the long run, would they stick around? That is the question. Who are you going to influence if your audience is not interested?. Being yourself will get you far and if that means only having 100, 200 or 10k followers than is all right. From what I hear, 10k followers is the minimum amount of followers that you must have before you are consider an influencer. Who knows 10k people in real live? LOL…just kidding!!.

I would like the modeling community to chime in on the comment section below and share with us, how do you feel about this? and have you been pressured by an agent to increase your numbers? is is fair?. Let’s chat!!

get our new @kendallandkylie party looks at @Topshop

A photo posted by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

By Farrah Estrella

Farrah Estrella is an award winning Latina, plus size, fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. She is also a fitness enthusiast and food lover. A native of the Dominican Republic, she has been the editor of the Estrella Fashion Report since 2012. Follow her on twitter at @FarrahEstrella and @EstrellaFReport

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  • Sarah Taylor

    December 22, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    You make a lot of really great points in this post! You are 10000{f4f104417c9ad41c3090c48ffbf3737280584246b1c861fa3168a3f2cbe08147} right that whatever you do on your IG account, you should be authentic. I’ve heard of people buying followers and doing whatever it takes to get followers and as much as brands want to see high numbers, what’s really important to them is actually a following that is 1. Engaged and 2. Has buying power. What’s the point of having a model/blogger with huge numbers if their following isn’t buying into what they are posting/selling. There has to be a purpose to a larger following rather than just feeling good you have a lot of followers.

    I have heard a lot about brands/agencies not hiring models because of their lower following numbers – so it is a thing in the industry. As a model and blogger I’d say that my Instagram has allowed me to connect with followers but also brands which has been a great experience.

    With the constant change in algorithms and working towards us having to pay for us to reach our audience – it’s hard to keep up but as you said, being authentic is key.

    Another point is that some people think that the world revolves around what is on social media and it’s a very fine line to not get wrapped up in it and doing whatever it takes to keep those numbers coming. What we see on social media isn’t the whole picture so people really need to be careful as influencers but also followers.

    Thanks for always being on top of things that are changing and challenging the conversation and norms.

    1. Farrah Estrella

      December 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks Sarah!!, You made some great points. My other thing is what if these girls don’t want to have a big following? be celebrities etc..Some girls just want to work and go home. They love the modeling industry but is a job. It’s a fun job for some, a job nontheless for others. Plus it feels like they want for the models to do their marketing for them like someone metion on my facebook page and that is not right. Marketing and Modeling are 2 different jobs and they are not paying more for having extra followers LOL, right? Just a thought. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate you insite.

  • Hope Kiriisa

    December 22, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    This is a great read! I truly believe the world of modeling has changed for the good and bad. Social media plays a big impact on bookings and the pressure is there from agents to be more present on social media. For a person who doesn’t really care to share every detail of my life it can be an akward situation . On the other hand social media has helped to diversify the modeling world and pressure brands to be more inclusive of of models from different ethnic backgrounds as well as body types, so that’s a plus ! Especially for me a curvy deep chocolate lady 😍. I have booked jobs just because of that alone. It’s really depends on the target market brands are trying to reach. I’m all for being authentic and if that means having 100 followers or 1 million that’s all that matters.

    1. Farrah Estrella

      December 22, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks Hope!! You are absolutely right!! I agree with you about the diversity part especially for the plus size modeling industry too. So glad that it is working for you and that you are booking jobs. Congrats my friend and all the best for you in the future.

  • LaTonia Robinson

    December 22, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Modeling in the Social Media age has really changed the game. It’s a double edge sword these days. If you don’t keep up and constantly post every detail of your life, then the perception is that you are not active, not working, not engaging, not popular, and not as interesting. Personally, I don’t think that my numbers have anything to do with what I, as an individual, bring to the table as a model or as a person for that matter.

    Constantly having to post on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. several times a day is a job all on its own. Even with other platforms that will post across the board for you at the same time (e.g. Hootsuite). What was once a fun outlet to share information and check-in on others has now become a full time job. It’s a job that I unknowingly applied for when I decided that I want to further my career in the modeling industry.

    The new trend for those who are aspiring to become relative in this industry is to now to show and prove. This goes much further than a portfolio, comp card, business card, and webpage. Potential clients want to know/see why they should take a risk or invest in you. Basically, if you haven’t invested in yourself or built up your personal buzz… then why should they believe in you and what you are selling?

    I agree that being authentic is the best way to be who you are online when growing your numbers. My followers will know the real me, well, as much of it as I am willing to share with a post anyway. I also think that you need to be responsible for the type of content and branding image that you are putting out into the webaverse.

    Social Media does allow you to reach people that you normally would not have access too. It allows for people who never had a voice, to speak as loud as they want to. It allows for you to be able to reach your audience directly. Which is a great thing, but it should not be a major deciding factor when booking talent for a job. It should be considered as a bonus factor when the news feed is positive, and used as a warning mechanism when the news feed is negative.

    What’s happening now is that the “client” wants to book talent with a large following because they are looking to tap into your audience/fan base by using you. They are hoping that you will post something with their brand in hopes that your influence over your followers will translate into future sales for them. Depending on how large your following is, it will also determine how much a client may decide to pay you for an overall booking, in addition to how much they are willing to spend for a post/share/shout-out for their product on your social media pages.

    Booking jobs based on numbers and posting activity has become part of the new norm, but it should not be a major deciding factor. Not everyone has the ability to market themselves in a manner that will allow for them to get to the 10K+ benchmark. If this is the new standard/minimum, then there is a strong possibility that a lot of wonderful talent will always go overlooked because of today’s unrealistic ideologies when it comes to social media relativity.

    1. Farrah Estrella

      December 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      I agree with you about it being a bonus factor. I also agree with you about not everyone having the ability to market themselves. That doesn’t make them bad models, you know what I mean?. And finally, I agree with you with it being a double edge sword, it’s all about perception. Great thoughts! Thanks for adding so much to the conversation.

  • Nadia Peña

    December 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Such a great read! I’m so glad you wrote about this.!! Being authentic and true to who you are is key. Regardless of how many followers this may bring. ❤️

    1. Farrah Estrella

      December 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      For sure!!, I’m glad you liked this article.

  • Tamarah Brown

    December 22, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Although, I am not a model myself, but as a fellow fashion blogger, I can relate. Like you and the ladies mentioned already the industry is constantly changing especially in the modeling world. I personally hear a lot from all models that I know, but I have personally experienced for myself. I can say there have been countless opportunities that I been passed over because I currently don’t have the large social media following the brand or etc. were looking for. However, in spite of this, I have some great brands who reached out to me based the quality on my blog even with my current level of followers. In reference to modeling, I understand and know about the power of social media presence, However, it would be unfortunate to miss out discovering a great undiscovered talent because of it. Social media definitely has its purpose and place but, I really try not to let hit a certain number of followers be my only focus. I always want to make sure that I am offering the best content. Authenticity is most definitely important. That’s why if you visited my blog you won’t always see some of the most popular stories. Honestly, I like to be true not only to myself, & my readers as well. I love featuring emerging talent that may not be featured or discovered yet. Back to social media, I personally believe that you will reach the numbers in all due season. I am not a big fan of the “buying” followers like Sarah mentioned either. Not only do people know, I would rather people find my blog organically not because I spent money. Great topic and post.

    1. Farrah Estrella

      December 22, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks for your input. I truly admire you as a blogger and you already know that and I totally agree with you.You may not have the numbers that they want but you have an incredible work ethic and I would much rather work with someone like that, than with somebody who only cares about money and numbers.
      Keep going my friend and never give up !

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