Welcome to the world of influencers, where your personal life is no longer private and must fit into the dimensions of an Instagram post!
These days, it’s hard for us to scroll down our Instagram without seeing beautiful photos posted by influencers trying to sell us something. Influencer marketing has taken off in recent years, opening up a huge opportunity not only for brands and marketers but also for social media stars.
Together with the growth in the number of influencers, the anti-influencer sentiment is also on the rise. Influencers are also frequently called out due to their opinion on controversial topics and inappropriate behaviors, giving this industry a bad name. But what is the real reason behind the rise of anti-influencer and what can influencers learn from it? Let’s find out!
Influencer Partying during Lockdown
Over the last few months, popular Instagram influencers have been facing huge backlash for traveling during the lockdown period.
Last August, Youtube influencer Tyler Oakley racked up high view counts with his video “Dear influencers partying during the pandemic…”. In the video, the Youtube creator criticized fellow influencers for their irresponsible behaviors including traveling, partying and not wearing masks amidst the pandemic. Hundreds of his followers responded with the same complaints.
Addressing the same issue, This Morning recently interviewed a fitness blogger who managed to travel to Dubai despite the restriction in her area. She claimed it was an “essential work trip” to provide sunny content for her followers although all her workout videos can be filmed indoors!
Increasing Demand for Free Products and Services
There are also quite a few stories about influencers that have taken things a bit too far in the past.
One example is an influencer requesting free photography services for her wedding in April 2021. The service includes a 1-hour wedding video and thousands of photos, estimated to be worth £3,000 to £4,000. In return, she would promote the company on her Facebook and Instagram page with a combined follower count of 55k.
However, there was no mention of the influencer’s name nor links to her social media account in the email, so the company had no way of checking the authenticity of the information. As expected, the offer was turned down, not only because it was unprofessional but also the level of following was not large enough to command free services worth that much.
Another epic example is about an influencer with 80k followers requesting a free stay at a Dublin hotel. In response, the hotel owner gave her a downright rejection on Facebook saying that he would “never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free”. The post immediately went viral, attracting more than 40k likes and 11k comments.
The problem here isn’t that she is an influencer. Instead, she had failed to pitch herself appropriately to a business. She was straight up like “I’ll make a video if you let me stay for free” without showing in detail how she will benefit the business (engagement rate, audience’s demographic, examples of her previous work, list of services she can offer, etc). Not to mention, The White Moose Café is a large corporation with 186k followers on Facebook, so working with a micro-influencer like her may not really benefit them.
Inauthentic & Endless Sponsored Posts
Social media posts by influencers are increasingly inauthentic. Many people have complained that Instagram influencers tend to share too many sponsored posts, forgetting to interact with their fans as a result. Audiences have also pointed out that some influencers feature products that don’t match their usual content. For example, a fashion influencer featuring technology products.
On the other hand, some influencers have taken inauthenticity to another level. Few years ago, popular beauty & fashion Influencer Johanna Olsson shared a picture of her taken during her trip to Paris, featuring a fashion brand. Her followers flocked to her post to point out that the image had been altered with Photoshop as she did in a way that was too obvious not to realize! After facing overwhelming criticisms, Johanna had to lock the comments session and go as far as to make a public statement.
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What Should Influencers Do?
1. Be a Role Model
Influencers have power and influence over their followers, so it is important for them to use their influence responsibly. At the end of the day, even if they have a small number of followers, the long-term strategy to build up their following is to be conscious about what the audiences want to see when they follow these influencers.
2. Authenticity is Key
With authenticity being the core value of influencer marketing, heavy sponsorships, fake images or fake recommendations would do more harm than good. If influencers keep on collaborating with brands without actually using (or liking) the products, they will ultimately damage their own credibility and make themselves less attractive to brands!
3. Be Professional!
While approaching brands and asking for collaborations are really common, influencers should be mindful about how to pitch themselves to brands. This includes choosing the suitable brand to approach, learning about them, asking what sort of things they’re looking for, and showing what you can do to benefit the brand. What influencers should always avoid is to ask for free products/services in an initial email to a brand they have never worked with before, especially big-name brands!
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