The term ‘influencer’ gets thrown around a lot, and although I’m not exactly sure how it came to exist, I know that a couple of years ago everyone wanted to be labeled an ‘influencer’ whereas today it is a shunned word. Why is it shunned? Because those who truly have influence in their field loathe being thrown in the same pod as the more recent Instagram ‘public figures’ glorifying their material possessions.
But what is an influencer, really?
I personally don’t think it takes tens of thousands or even a million social media followers to make you an influencer. An influencer influences, no matter how small his/her reach is, if that person is able to change opinions and shape minds, then this is the category they fall into from tech gadget savants to beauty product experts. Influence isn’t a matter to take lightly, because with reach comes responsibility, but there are also major cons to this digital phenomenon. There is no denying that a great portion of the blogosphere has become a marketing strategy, and while it is never wrong to monetize one’s influence, there is a fine line between hoarding all the collaborations you can get, and being genuine. The majority of the audience are smart enough to differentiate between authenticity and paid content, but there are still fresher minds that are really influenced by a blogger they look up to, and if the latter is merely posting in return for a few bucks, this particular demographic will be falsely deceived in thinking the reviewed product is a must have and therefore will go ahead and buy it without the proper research.
My pet peeve, aside from the vomit rendering, in your face paid posts, is the look-at-my-perfect-life fashion influencers who add nothing to society except showing off daddy’s money or what their husbands can afford. Really, like really, who are you targeting, and do the luxury brands who sponsor you expect your thousands of followers to all be customers of said brands? Do you do anything besides pose in front of your homes/cars/whatever you want to flaunt showcasing sunglasses, watches, shoes, bags and dresses that most hard working people need to put away a year’s salary to afford? What exactly are you aiming at, please, do tell. If you want to make your friends jealous, then take it offline like the old generation used to do, bickering and showing off what they bought over coffee, or more recently, espresso. I only have one thing to say to these types of women, we are more than just mannequins, we are strong, educated, and must make a difference in the world.
Then again there are the ladies who preach not wearing makeup in some of their selfies when in fact they are filtered, face tuned, blurred and taken with the beauty shot. Not to mention the Botox, surgeries and lash lifting etc. How about those who can’t type out a correct English word, much less a sentence, and even get hashtags and brand names wrong yet are still scouted to collaborate, are these the type of people whom you want to be representing your business? Then again can those agencies be blamed when others disregard the fact that there are professional engineers, architects, pharmacists and the likes whom they can take advantage of in terms of social media marketing, but choose unrelated people to do the job just because they know someone who knows someone?
I’d like to supply a bucket of water to the PR agencies to pour on themselves, perhaps that’ll help them wake up from their comatose state. Wake up from this ‘I got your back you got mine’ mentality, from this ‘you’re my friend so I’m gonna give you all the deals’, from the ‘she feels threatened by this blogger so I’ll definitely blacklist her from my events although I know she fits the brand’s profile’, and start working on what you spent years studying. Instead of inviting fashionistas to food events, ignoring the older influencers with the right audience to an alcoholic brand event, recruiting the school students to luxury outings, how about you target your demographic? The irrelevancy of the attendees of certain events or the chosen ambassadors for a certain program is laughable. How about you actually research the fact that most bloggers work and can’t attend midweek functions that are so far from the city, it isn’t even funny. How about you NOT split the attendees into two lists, one on weekends and one for the middle of the week? How about you show some courtesy and not split a conference into one during the day and later at night in a fancier setup? How about you start paying what the influencer deserves and on what they are offering in return. How about you ban the ‘why would I work with you since X did it for free’ when we all know X’s reach is a fraction of another’s reach. How about you start recognizing the true influencers, the hard working mothers, those who don’t use their kids in perfect setups to rake in ‘likes’ but the ones like myself who relate their life to the public with as much transparency as possible, the authentic people with true and real audience. How about you get up from the rock you’ve been hiding under and realize that where you choose to save money is ending up costing you more? If only you would realize that not all bloggers are the same, and not everyone wants to associate themselves with your brand or client, that some of us are sweeping in international deals, working behind the scenes, unwilling to be related by near or far to names that we will do more good than they will do us.
Instagram is becoming more and more cringe-worthy, with emerging ‘public figures’ who choose to define themselves as that because they got their 15 seconds of fame, with ‘fashionistas’ who have no sense of fashion and who need a lifetime to understand that wearing the latest trends will never guarantee you have style, with ‘influencers’ who influence nothing but the puppets of their own imaginary world, with ‘bloggers’ who don’t blog and are in it for the freebies and don’t promote brands even on their 24 hour disappearing stories because promoting gifts is so 2015.
You know who I blame? I blame you, me, all of us for helping their egos soar, for creating monsters whom brands are fighting over to get a piece of their fake influence. I blame the brands who are willing to help them monetize their visual content because other more deserving bloggers just don’t qualify for their glossy image. The reason I say visual content is because these ‘influencers’ are unable to create content because they are only there to model their physical appearance without any added value. Why don’t we get back to earth, where people have school, university, jobs, children, homes and reality to deal with. When a Dior dress can pay a kid’s tuition, or Gucci mules can feed a family for 3 months, when young girls everywhere are dreaming of achieving this unattainable lifestyle, when these are the pillars of our online society, then we must realize we have hit a new low.
Next time you want to call yourself an ‘influencer’, I beg you, do your best and influence positively and realistically. I want to see plus sized fashion bloggers, I want to see less judgmental mom bloggers, I want to follow fashion stylists who actually show us how to style our outfits, I want to see first class fashionistas revealing their budget buys as well as their luxury pieces, I want more social bloggers, more criticism, more culture. Is it too much to ask?
As for me, I will continue to be myself, the Maria you have gotten used to, who doesn’t shut up in the face of idiocy, who will always show you what life is like as a working woman and a lifestyle blogger, I promise you to keep it real online when it comes to how I raise my children, most of all I want you all to know how imperfect I really am, and how I embrace my flaws, how I love myself, and how I strive for learning as much as I can.