Lab Platform Governance, Media and Technology (PGMT)

New article by PGMT member Vanessa Richter on Influencers’ Instagram Imaginaries

PGMT member Vanessa Richter together with Zhen Ye has published an article on “Influencers’ Instagram Imaginaries as a global phenomenon: Negotiating precarious interdependencies on followers, the platform environment, and commercial expectations” in a Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies special issue on social media and platform work. The article deals with the complex and precarious reality of social media labor through the lens of influencers’ imaginaries around Instagram.

Instagram has become a place of work for many content creators, including influencers; however, the inherent power imbalance between creator and platform dictating influencers’ success, requires creators to negotiate user expectations and the platform environment for their potential (commercial) success. Therefore, the article proposes approaching the influencer industry from the framework of platform imaginaries by developing a mixed qualitative method approach to visualize the precarity of Instagram influencers through their Instagram imaginaries with a cross-national comparison of US, German, and Japanese influencers. The results reflect a constant renegotiation of their own positions in relation to platform features and algorithms, follower interaction, as well as commercial partners, within three main imaginaries around Instagram’s use: Instagram as a social space, Instagram as a workplace, and Instagram as a marketplace. The analysis highlights the interdependencies with and situatedness within Instagram’s platform environment, which need to be considered to understand the precarious working conditions of influencers.

Read the full article here.