Why people voluntarily promote businesses
University of Wollongong professor Katina Michael studies the psychological impacts of social media, and said the business/customer relationship could benefit both parties.
"These days, people like to be associated with brands, not just global brands, but local brands," she said.
"People feel they're getting something back, even if it's in-kind, which is about building their persona and reputation online, and local organisations can help you do that."
While some people are paid with cash or products to promote items on their social networks, those people are almost always major influencers with a large following.
The reality is that people with a much smaller following who post stylised promotional photos in the hope of picking up a sponsorship are simply advertising a company for free.
Professor Michael said while it could be a win-win for businesses and customers, people should be aware that at the heart of it was a commercial message.
"We should be aware these are business messages and their message is sales maximisation and we are consumers," she said.
Citation: Justin Huntsdale, Scott Murray, Lisa Trujillo and Katina Michael, "From breakfast to business boon: How Instagram photos have become priceless free publicity", ABC Illawarra 97.3 Mornings with Nick Rheinberger, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-02/stylish-instagram-posts-become-free-advertising-for-businesses/8763778