• Cara-Lee Compton

Influencer? Or influential?

Influencers, influencers everywhere!

When Instagram announced that it is considering taking away the amount of likes people get for their posts, the international association of influencers erupted in complete panic!

Here is my two cents on the influencer industry.

Some of you might be completely lost on the terms, so here is the definition of an influencer according to Google: "A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media."

Two important words in this definition - influence and social media. Social media has become a tool, a workplace for some, to generate income without them sometimes even having to leave their house. A photo of your breakfast, a makeup tutorial in your room, or a post about all your free gifts can land you anything between R500 to R10 000. Crazy concept, isn't it?

So what's the issue here? My greatest concern with the influencer-phenomenon is WHAT they are influencers of and WHO they are influencing. Are you influencing girls to have a healthy body image and follow a 'diet' that isn't going to wreck their bodies? Are you influencing young men to be confident in themselves and their abilities, without having to compromise respect and manners? Or are you promoting a lifestyle and products that aren't healthy nor attainable, but you're getting paid for it, so all good then?

Like someone commented in the Urban Dictionary under the definition of an influencer: "How did a picture of your avo on toast change someone's life?"

Another great concern, especially for companies spending thousands, millions, on these influencer marketers, is that many influencers are 'buying' their likes, comments and followers.

A billion Dollar industry might be spending money on robots and fake accounts, what a pity.

Don't get me wrong, I follow many influencers from around the world. Travellers, foodies, makeup and skincare specialists and people that truly live healthy lives and look great, and honestly, I LOVE their accounts and the content they create. I learn from them, listen to their advice, try their recipes and put their travel destinations on my bucket list. What I cannot seem to have peace with are influencers that get paid to promote very expensive products and lifestyles, that they get for free, because they have some kind of status in society, or have a level of beauty that is just as unattainable, or in SA, they have somewhere appeared on TV for whatever reason and now consider themselves famous!

I am far from an influencer, I am a blogger, and I get upset if people call me an influencer, just because I am afraid to be associated with the wrong idea of the concept. If I post about a product, I am promoting it because they are local, or a small business, and because I believe in the quality of their work, not because I get it for free. Whatever I put on social media or the blog, I do so because I hope to inspire someone or post something they can relate to. Do I want to be an influencer? Or do I want to be influential? I'll pick the latter every time!

If you are an influencer and you find yourself reading this nano-blogger's blog, I hope you reconsider the brands you work with. I hope you consider your impact on social media before making every post, whether you are truly building up the industry or giving it a bad name. If you are one of the millions following Instagram influencers, I hope you really scrutinise their accounts and ask yourself "what are they influencing me to do or buy?", and then I hope you know when it's worth the follow, or when it's just not worth the influence!