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Trying to monetize Instagram as someone who posts images to the site regularly is no easy task, but suddenly there are companies popping up that are helping retailers and brands hook up with the most popular image posters on the Facebook-owned site and for many, the dollars are rolling in.

Technology providers like rewardStyle and Curalate are helping retailers and brands by essentially latching on to Instagram’s top users and ‘encouraging’ them to post images promoting a particular product, company or retail location.

“Getting users to ‘like’ something on Instagram is great,” began New York-based photographer Jim Cummins. “However, if you’re a retailer you haven’t really been able get them to buy directly from the site. They have to leave Instagram and spend some time digging around some to actually buy an item. And if you’re the one doing the posting you’ve been left out of the equation altogther…until now.”

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According to analytics and marketing platform Curalate, social media users interact with brands on Instagram 58 times more than they do on Facebook and a startling 120 times more than on Twitter. As a result of numbers such as these Curalate recently developed a service dubbed Like2Buy that essentially makes Instagram far more shoppable for users.

What the Curalate tech does is allow the user to click the one link Instagram permits (atop a brand’s profile page) and it then displays a grid of all the items up for sale from that retailer’s feed. Another click takes that user to the store’s secure mobile site.

It appears as though the stepping off point for Instagrammers getting the attention of these companies is around 100,000 followers, with payment falling in the $700-$1,000 range for a specific product endorsing shot they post. Obviously, the more followers, the more money per endorsement.

One of the agencies that has sprung up in the middle of this picture-profiting frenzy is Manhattan-based Mobile Media Lab who also claim that users with over 500,000 followers are taking in upwards to $8,000 per shot.

“Liking” a Win/Win

RewardStyle’s liketoknow.it tool is aimed more directly at Instagram content creators, as it is set up to tell consumers exactly where to buy the items the content creator is featuring. Liketoknow.it allows the public to receive details on how to buy what’s in an Instagram image by “liking” any item that features the liketoknow.it logo. The content creator takes a cut of the sale, paid by the retailer or brand, once the purchase has gone through.

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“Tools such as these are allowing both content creators and retailers to finally capitalize on the incredible burst in product images being posted across not only Instagram, but Pinterest and other outlets as well,” Cummins explained. “And it’s about time as these sites have become very powerful influences for consumers. It is time to spread the wealth.”

Nordstrom actually began using Curalate’s Like2Buy platform late last year and more retailers have followed this year such as Target and fashion retailer Charlotte Russe. This wave has apparently just begun to roll ashore.

Curalate Grab

“The common thread here is photography – if you’re taking pictures of the stuff you’re doing and buying and have built up a big following on Instagram, it just makes sense to me that you should be looking into a way to profit from this,” Cummins added. “And if you’re really good at taking these shots why wouldn’t a retailer or brand want to tap into your world?”

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