For more than 500 million users, Instagram is a place to post vacation shots, makeup tutorials, birthday selfies, and baby pictures to satisfy their followers.
But as explored by the New York Times, for one luxury segment, exposure from those views and likes are translating into millions.
The Times reports that last year, the famed auction house Sotheby’s (which boasts over 400,000 Instagram followers) sold a Fabergé silver, enamel and seed-pearl icon for £245,000 — 10 times its estimate, after the buyer saw its image on the platform. Of 650 art buyers recently questioned for the 2016 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, 48% called Instagram their preferred social media platform – 65% of the younger buyers said the same. Two dealers, Joe Kennedy, 27, and Jonny Burt, 26, are currently holding an exhibition of “art popularized by Instagram” in London, in partnership with Instagram account Avant Arte. Their aim is to give their combined ~580,000 combined followers the chance to see art popularized on the platform in person. Burt told Business Insider UK “It’s a very strong foundation for our sales. About 50 percent of our sales are online.”
It’s true that quantifying views into sales is no science, and anecdotes like Faberge icon provide no manual about how to make lightning strike. But, for a market like luxury art which historically has felt inaccessible to non-blue blood set, the growth of Instagram has made the segment feel far more approachable and help develop the next generation of buyers. And it isn’t just specific to art. Instagram has become a crucial part of the marketing strategy for luxury real estate, and helped secure innovative dealers lucrative deals.
Their success begs the question – what other markets can be positively disrupted by the rise of Instagram and other social media platforms?