(This post is going to be the first in a series. One that have been meaning to write for a while now.)
10 Things We Hate About Influencers
They live among us in droves now. They are your kids’ friend’s mom…they are your co-worker…they are the girls taking endless selfies and videos of themselves (and each other) when you go out to eat or to a bar. You see them everywhere: outside coffee shops, downtown, in parking garages, parks, and hotels. They go by evolving names: the Blogger, the Influencer, the Content Creator.
To back up a bit, I remember when my daughters first told me I needed to get on Instagram. Facebook was fading as old and I was told “everyone is on Instagram now.” Since I was not even really on Facebook much anymore, I decided to see what Instagram was all about. I was late to the game; it was 2015.
Somewhere along my journey of exploration of the new world of Instagram, I remember starting to notice girls sharing their outfits, make up and hair products. It reminded me of flipping through an InStyle magazine and I thought it was very cool. Until I noticed something odd. Even though these girls were all posting pictures of their “personal style”, they all seemed to be sharing the same shoes; to a degree beyond mere coincidence. And that is when I first heard myself say: I hate these Influencers!
Reason #1: They all dress the same
My brain picks up on details. As a quiet, introvert, I have always had an attention to detail. So when I kept seeing these Influencers sharing the same summer sandals, I noticed. It made me mad because I thought they were supposed to be sharing their individual style and sharing the same items reeked of mass marketing to me. I felt it was fraudulent and insincere. I didn’t understand what I was seeing.
What I have since learned
While many of the Influencers we may follow or have at least seen pass through our feed on a sponsored post got their start doing what they do by organically sharing their personal style through sharing photos; many of them have learned how to not only monetize their Instagram but have actually been able to earn a living from doing so. One that I follow was actually someone I went to the same church with. She worked in the church office and her husband was employed by the church taking care of the grounds and landscaping. They were probably earning a lower to modest income but fast forward to present day.
Her Influencer income allowed not only her to quit her office job but allowed her husband to quit his job as well! She now enjoys working from home and he is a stay-at-home dad. They live in a big house with their 3 kids, in a great neighborhood, drive new cars, and take exotic vacations, all while the entire family is dressed to the nines. Which, I cannot hate one bit. They are living the dream!
Monetizing Their Instagram Account
Now, back to the shoes they all were sharing. I have come to learn the ways they were able to monetize their Instagram. (And forgive me if I sound slow here. I am sharing this not for the hip-and-with-it younger crowd, but more so for those, similar to myself, perhaps a bit better in age, or just not familiar with the ins-and-outs of the Influencer world; not that I am any kind of expert whatsoever.)
When an Instagram account attracts many followers, brands and marketing companies noticed that these accounts have an influence on those that are following them. Marketing is all about getting a product seen by potential customers. So if a product is a new summer sandal, who is that sandals’ target buyer? Probably a woman, interested in wearing the latest fashion, with the ability to purchase said sandal. And how would the marketer of that sandal manage to get this target woman consumer to see the sandal? Is she watching TV where they can put it on a commercial? Is she driving on the freeway where she might see it on a billboard? Does she purchase fashion magazines where she would see the sandal in an ad or featured in a styled post on her favorite celebrity? Perhaps.
A Shift In Marketing
But more than any of those mentioned methods, marketing agencies saw that while some of those old methods might capture a limited amount of people, more and more people were spending time online, specifically on social media. Magazine subscriptions and newspaper deliveries were fading quickly as the world went more and more online for their news (and outfit hunts-we still love you Pinterest).
So brands started reaching out directly to these Influencers, gifting them with their latest product in hopes they would wear it the photos their followers were now tuning in to see each week (or everyday). Brands also started outright paying the Influencers to post a photo of them wearing their product. The Influencers were becoming the new magazine ads. And if that was not enough, a new company saw this happening and came up with a way for brands to pay not just flat rates to Influencers for wearing/sharing their product but to pay them in commissions.
And this is where the next reason comes from…..
Reason #2: The ‘Like To Know It’
(to be continued…..)