November 11th, 2016

Instafamous: Thirst Trapping

By Debisi Sami Orungbe
If you don’t know what “Thirst Trapping” is then you are definitely not part of the instagram age but not to worry, it is simple enough.

‘A person who’s famous on the popular app Instagram because they have thousands of followers. Person is usually a pretty girl who posts a thousand pictures of her face or whatever food she’s eating. May include pictures of other people’s food

Example: That girl’s instafamous, she’s got like 10k followers!’  – Urban Dictionary


Brands (and people) are constantly fascinated by instagram. It has become the single most important measurement of one’s popularity on the internet. We no longer ask about the Facebook Fans and Twitter numbers have been secondary stats. Instagram followership is number one. Brands want to know how they can amass followers and it has become common place to see it listed among the top KPIs companies give to their agencies. But how? How does one gain thousands of followers? The instagram ads give some boost but you can’t depend on them solely to grow those numbers.


To truly answer this questions, we have to look at the pros. The ones who figured out this instagram-of-a-thing before the ads, without the budgets, without being celebrities or person of interest. How did @esosa get 15,000 people to hit the follow button?


It might seem obvious. An attractive female who takes complementing pictures right? Yes and No. It’s not that simple and in these series of articles we will explore what the instafamous are doing right and how we can adopt them for our brands.




If you don’t know what “Thirst Trapping” is then you are definitely not part of the instagram age but not to worry, it is simple enough. The act simply refers to when these instafamous post particularly attractive or seductive photos. They are sexy and captivating and for most we immediately take a moment from the endless scrolling to really take it in.  The likes come, the comments begin to fill up and naturally the followers increase as people want to see what else this instagrammer has to offer. The thirst is real. They have tapped into our natural urges and presented us with an image we can’t ignore.


But this does not apply to just the young and beautiful, thirst trapping takes many forms. #Foodporn is another example of this. Foodbloggers use alluring photos of delicious looking food (perfectly timed to when you are hungry) to make you slow your scroll and take in a mouthwatering moment. The fashionistas perfectly capture a pose in a well curated outfit and suddenly it joins your ‘must-have’ wishlist.


How does a brand thirst trap?

Unless you are Victoria Secret or Ann Summers you might not be able to get away with the overtly sexy and risqué.  You might not even have a product per se but if you are a brand you should have clear visual elements to your brand that can be captured in beautiful images. The 3 things you need to have to achieve this are:


1. Strong/Crisp/Visuals

The images must be beautifully and seductively captured. i don’t want to see just a bottle of Coke. I want to see it cold with the bottle sweating, next to a glass filled with ice cubes. Stimulating to the point that I can almost taste.


2. Timing

We are receptive to different things at different times of the day. Using the same example, seeing the chilled bottle of coke might be appealing at any point in the day but seeing the same bottle of coke with a plate of jollof rice just before lunch…oh lawd. Perfectly timed images and communication gives you the best opportunity for conversion.


3. Test & Perfect

The great thing about social media is that you can easily recognise what people respond to. Do they like more when it’s a product or lifestyle shot? When you it’s grayscale or in full colour? Take note of what your audience likes and keep finding ways to feed that thirst.