More and more on social media I’m seeing the word “Influencer” tossed around like absolute filth. Whether it’s disdain for those who flaunt their lives like they’ve been sponsored to take their next breath (you know who you are) or annoyance that content isn’t authentic, there’s a real hate on these days for people who make a dolla dolla bill or two from content creation.
a person or thing that influences another.“he was a champion of the arts and a huge influencer of taste”
MARKETINGa person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.“influencers can add serious credibility to your brand”
Influencers – They’re Just Like You!
This idea that the common person is like a celebrity is an interesting shift in the makeup of our society. They haven’t done anything particularly spectacular, or so most people think. From my view, someone of influence finds beauty in the mundane. This is a new(ish) form of art combining the written word (yes, captions can be poetry), photography (okay – hiring photographers for your OOTD is a little much), and graphic design (you know how much editing goes into some of these ‘grams). Most of these people are also crafty AF in the way they live their lives. They’ve carved out a niche where (well, the successful ones) can follow their bliss daily. It doesn’t happen overnight, however. Building a business, even if your brand is yourself, is hard work. The competition is bloody fierce.
Influencers – They Eat!
I get it – going to a restaurant with friends and having your dining companion make the table wait until the food is cold is incredibly obnoxious. When the food arrives and everyone scrambles to create a table with the greatest aesthetic standing up on a chair with a portable flash in one hand and their phone in the other, it’s obnoxious. This behaviour really takes a toll on the guest experience of every other person in the restaurant. This detracts from the carefully prepared and plated meal they restaurant’s team has put together. As someone who has worked in the hospitality industry for many, many years and has worked with chefs and bartenders passionate about their craft, I wonder if the food even tastes good or if it’s just pretty. I wonder if these “influencers” can tell the difference between tarragon and turmeric.
Influencers – They Shop!
This is the thing about “aspiring influencers” that drives me up the wall. Influencers Faking Brand Deals is nothing new. I knew of plenty of people doing this while I was in Korea in an attempt to secure new business. I also knew of desperate women who would be given discarded goods from influencers within the Korean Beauty Space who would put “#gifted” on everything. No, you weren’t gifted sh*t, little girl. Your friend who spent hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars becoming a skincare expert gave you the crap she no longer wanted, and you gave it a glowing review.
Making Money Blogging
Building blog and a brand costs money. Most of the people I knew when I started blogging were trying to share the latest and greatest spots in the city giving directions in the process. Heck – I made a whole video about how to get to the Raccoon Cafe in Seoul when I was still living in Busan. I shared restaurant reviews where I spent a pretty penny and felt I got great value. I was never “doing it for the ‘gram”, and the friends I met through the blogging community (at first) weren’t either. We just wanted to share cool things we found in English for people who might not be having the easiest time navigating in Korean. The secret to making money blogging? HARD WORK.
Passion Projects Put to Work
That’s the thing – most content creators turned influencers built a website and started writing about life hacks, amazing products and fantastic deals they genuine adore and want to share. I began my blog, The Toronto Seoulcialite, while in Korea because I was leaving the marketing world and didn’t want to become irrelevant and undesirable as a potential hire upon my return. Now I work as a writer for a law firm because:
- I was a teacher – I taught spelling, grammar, syntax, and flow. These are essential skills in my daily tasks at work.
- I learned about my audience, SEO, link-building, social media marketing, and wordpress. These are desirable skills within my industry.
- Once I realised that there were companies who wanted to partner with me, I amped up the business of blogging. Creating pitches and proposals for companies with whom I desired to work became necessary. Paying for for products and experiences was normal. Sometimes I could organize a partnership to offset the costs of running my blog. I wasn’t a hack job with my mouth wide open hawking a food product I would never eat, if you know what I mean. Now, I research companies and write marketing materials to show how our team is the best fit for a particular project.
Influencers – The Hate is Real
The problem with influencers in our 2019 society is that thing have gotten out of control. What used to be an industry of finding cool things, expressing honest emotions (This Crazy Thing Called Life isn’t sunshine and roses. Sometimes sh*t gets real) is now a forcefield of gritting a smile and showing no weakness. The glossy, glamorous lives of aspiring influencers aren’t real. These people in Facebook groups trying to get you to join pyramid schemes so you can “travel the world for free” are conning you. The reason content creators had influence was because they weren’t perfect, they were passionate. The start-up nature of sharing your life’s ups and downs was real; authentic.
Now, “engagement” is easy to fake. You can pump some money into Facebook to promote or pay off a bot farm to like the image for you. It’s infuriating that PR companies – people who are supposed to be professionals in this field – don’t see through the fake followers and inauthetic content. It’s sad to see companies partner with “influencers” who are guaranteed to bring no reach, engagement, or revenue from the rates they charge. I can totally understand and respect why the every man or woman gets a hate on for the influencer life. The hate is real.
When it comes down to it, there will always be people of influence. When genuine, and not pay for play, an influencer is someone honest who gives a review you can trust. With cost of living at an all-time high, that trust should be sacred. Influencer isn’t a dirty word, we’ve just forgotten the meaning.