This is something I often can get disheartened by and upset over, mostly because I really dislike the term influencer. That’s my personal opinion, and I know there’s an entire industry built around that name, but I don’t associate myself with it. I know that a lot of bloggers (not just me) really don’t like being called just an influencer and will often correct people when it’s said, and no disrespect is meant with this, but it’s because they’re two different things.
What is an influencer? An influencer is someone with a large following of people that can influence people to buy things and have their lifestyle. As an example, an influencer might be someone from the show Made in Chelsea or The Only Way Is Essex, or simply a girl/boy that got popular on Instagram for their photos, but they don’t have a blog, don’t write articles or content, and often just use social media as a platform to promote products.
What is a blogger? A blogger, as I’m sure you know by now since I’ve mentioned it a lot and also written a post called ‘what does a fashion blogger do?‘ is someone who owns or writes for a blog, writes articles and content, and spends a long time voicing their ideas/opinions, or covering topics. It can be anything from a lifestyle, food or travel blogger to a fashion, health or specific niche blogger. Bloggers can often be referred to as content creators as well because of the amount of time spent on photography, editing, writing etc. to curate articles they’re proud of.
Of course these two can get crossed over sometimes because a popular blogger will have an influence on their readers, but wont want to be called just an ‘influencer’ because there’s so much more to it than that, it doesn’t represent them fully. When someone just calls me an influencer, I feel like they’re dismissing the fact that my blog is first and foremost, I spend hours on content and imagery, I spend hours engaging and connecting with all of you and trying to build a community. It’s a pretty dismissive term in my opinion. I’m guessing it might be like calling a specialised programmer an ‘I.T guy’ or an Olympic athlete ‘a jogger’ as an example. It’s not fully true.
I have absolutely nothing against anyone and their chosen career path as I’m always supportive and appreciative of everyone else, but what inspired me to create this blog post was a video I saw on Instagram earlier this week. It was a speech by Prince EA (a film maker and creator who gets called an influencer because he has 1.2 million followers) and he made such a valid point about the term ‘influencer’ and whether or not it’s good. You can click here to see the video.
He said, when you’re caught drunk driving, you’re under the influence. When you get sick with flu, that’s influenza. Influence was usually a negative term that meant you’re not in control or thinking for yourself because you’ve been influenced by something or someone else. What I took away from his speech was the feelings towards influencer’s pages – are they really just making you buy another product you don’t want? Are they making you lust after a car, an unobtainable beauty image, a millionaire lifestyle, an addiction to travel, or making you feel shamed about the way you look and how your body looks etc. without realising it? Isn’t this all where the term ‘FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out’ came from? As someone in this industry, do people go away from your page feeling positive or negative? It’s a valid question. What are you influencing?
I’ve given this a lot of thought and I would hope that the general consensus here is that people feel inspired, positive and happy when they read my blog. I don’t want anyone going away with jealousy, a negative mindset, or feeling unhappy because of something I did or said. I’ve always made sure to keep my blog as a hugely positive place, filled with nothing bad or distressing, and only helpful articles. Even when I do my reviews of items I’ve saved up money for, I have them with helpful intentions in mind. I know a lot of you here aren’t going to buy a designer bag because I bought it, but my reviews are there for people searching Google for help and advice on an item they’re looking to buy. We are all influencers in life in some way, as people ask advice, look up to you, your child is influenced by you as a parent etc., but it’s about how you use that, I think.
I don’t want to just influence you to buy something I don’t really care about, I like the fact that you trust me and trust my opinion, then you make your own decisions. I see so many things which aren’t relevant on other peoples accounts, like diet shakes or vaping (even if they don’t smoke) and I personally don’t think that’s right to do that for money, when you don’t use or care for the products. I’ve been offered the same collaborations, especially diet foods, for a lot of money, and I turn them down because I believe in a healthy diet instead. I don’t want to pretend I take diet shakes and in order to look like me you have to buy this product I don’t even use. I completely disagree with it.
I personally care about all of you and I don’t see how promoting items I don’t like is any better than buying thousands of fake followers and ripping brands off because you’re now considered a ‘popular influencer’ or buying fake designer items, claiming it’s real, and influencing others to buy the real one based off your fake one. There’s a lot of mess in this industry at the moment, which is a lot to do with why I quit my fashion blogging career, as you know. Honesty seems to be the wrong policy in this industry, and that doesn’t sit well with me.
I’ve fallen into these traps myself, numerous times, when I start looking around on accounts and I touched on that a bit in a post I wrote about Happiness From Self Acceptance & Self Love so I try to make sure I only follow accounts that are down to earth and genuine. I’ve got lost in moments where I end up thinking I need to have a bigger bum, I need higher boobs, I need a lot more make-up, I need to pose this way and wear this, I need to travel everywhere, in order for me to get more followers and likes. Then I quickly catch myself and think hang on, that’s not me, I’ve been influenced and now feel bad about myself and think I need to change, when I don’t. Insecurities can rear their heads, especially if you’re a teenager and going through a lot of changes in your body, as well as mentally, so it’s a dangerous game. As a collective, we really need to make sure that what we’re promoting and portraying is authentic to us, what we believe in, and truthful.
I’m not saying all influencers are bad though, they aren’t, they’re normal people like you and me, but often can portray a lifestyle they don’t even lead for the fame side of it, which is missleading because people who follow them don’t realise it’s not true. I’ve heard stories about some who got into serious debt buying all these designer items and going to amazing locations just for Instagram, then borrowing clothes and other items from family or friends, and living a lifestyle online that they didn’t live in real life, leading them to almost be homeless then start asking readers for help… which is just wrong. It’s a lie and it’s false advertising. There’s a difference between showing your positive and happy side online, curating pretty photos and leaving the negative for offline, which is fine, but lying and portraying something that’s not true isn’t ok, in my opinion. It’s not the right kind of influence you should be portraying. What are your thoughts on this? As bloggers, how do you feel about promoting absolutely anything to anyone even if you don’t like it? Or do you have rules?
This is slightly off topic, but also to do with it, but there’s also another aspect that is now happening because of the influencer craze. It’s the disassociation of humanity. I get upset when I’m not classed as a ‘real’ or ‘normal person’. It’s happened to me a lot lately, on Instagram, just because of my job and I’m treated differently. If I like someone’s photo that I don’t know, sometimes they message me to ask why, ask if I’m a fake person, or wonder why I would even like their photo because ‘I’m a model’ or ‘I’m famous’ (said with air quotes)…
I’m understanding of where the perception comes from as most famous people ignore fans due to the high volume and their own safety, but I’m not famous, and just because I have this as my job, doesn’t mean I’m no longer a real human like you are. We’re all equal, I’m exactly the same, regardless of how many followers I have. I’ve spoken to lovely ladies with millions of followers and they’re just the same, normal girls. In reality, we don’t have a number over our heads. In person, we’re just normal people, so I think this is another issue where influencers have gone a bit wrong. We’ve objectified them and see them as something more, or untouchable. So if that’s something that’s ever stopped you reaching out before, commenting before etc., then put that thought out of your head. You might get a reply, if you’re respectful and kind, I know I always reply so others hopefully will too. Like I said up there, we’re all the same, we’re all influencers in some way in life, to our pets, children, neighbours, friends, family, but online, has it really become this negative thing? To quote Prince EA “When you call yourself a ‘social media influencer’ what are you influencing?”.
I would really love your opinions on this. I’d love your honesty in how my blog/social media makes you feel etc., whether it’s negative or positive. We’re all equal here in this community. Lorna xx.