9 Instagram Influencers Being Courted by Big Brands

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Last November, Instagram rolled out in-feed ads to its U.S. users. But despite the fact that advertisers can pay to have their pics show up in feeds, many are choosing a different route: Paying Instagram influencers to post phots featuring their products instead.

While some influencers are household names, a lot of these aren’t people the average person will recognize. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t stars to those who love and follow them.

And since big brands are looking to not just celebrities but “social media celebrities” to represent their brands, companies like Niche and Instabrand are now there to help them cash in on their fame.

We took a look to see how everyone from Beyoncé to previous unknown photographers, models, and singers are using Instagram to cash in on their popularity.

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1. @chrisozer

Followers: 557,565

Chris Ozer moved away from a career in jazz piano in 2009 to embrace photography. Since then, he’s been embraced by brands like Nike, Cole Haan, The Lincoln Motor Company, TOMS, and more. His career working with big advertisers really took off when Johnnie Walker decided to share stories relevant to the brand through the eyes of influential Instagrammers. The picked Ozer to document the Johnnie Walker distillery in Scotland. Since then, Instagram has continued to help accelerate his career.

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2. @natalieoffduty

Followers: 90,343

Natalie Suarez is a model and fashion blogger who took over the GUESS Instagram account for the launch of their spring 2013 line. Her pics, as well as fan generated content and photos of the line were fed into a hub, displayed in stores, and shown during festivals like SXSW and Coachella.

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3. Beyonce

Followers: 12,850,167

Beyonce signed a $50 million promotional deal with Pepsi in 2013 to become their brand ambassador. The deal includes traditional ad spots as well as shoutouts on her social media channels.

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4. @moneal

Followers: 557,648

Photographer Michael O’Neal received national attention when he shot a campaign for Vogue in 2013. It was Vogue’s first-ever Instagram photo shoot and the photos lived on his Instagram, Vogue’s website, and Vogue’s Instagram.

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5. @jessicalesaca

Followers: 148,180

Jessica Lesaca is an aspiring singer who also happens to be very pretty and have a fun sense of style. She represents brands like 3B Plus and Joe’s Jeans by posting pics of herself using their products on Instagram.

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6. @bunnyholiday

Followers: 11,362

Bunny Holiday calls herself a “young DIY performer/musician/artist. Her provocative style made her a perfect fit to team up with American Apparel (who she’s also modeled for) and create a “Cali Sun & Fun” line. The suits were promoted on her Instagram as well as theirs.

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7. @mikekus

Followers: 890,039

Mike Kus is a UK-based web designer and photographer who claims he’s not quite sure why his Instagram has so many followers. Likely, it’s because he joined the day it launched and he also takes beautiful photographs. Regardless, he’s popularity and skill have given him a chane to do campaigns with brands like Burberry, Land Rover, Red Bull, O2 and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

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8. @marte_marie_forsberg

Followers: 192,173

Marte Marie Forsberg is a self taught food and lifestyle photographer from Norway. Her background in styling made her the perfect choice to shoot a Gap Kids campaign.

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9. @justinliv

Followers: 37,870

Justin Livingston liked to share pics of his outfits. Little did he know that at the age of 25, doing so would become his full-time job. He now gets paid by brands like Ralph Lauren and Armani Exchamge to attend events and wear their products in his photos.