Ok, ok, I know there are some serious issues within the influencer industry – people who have bought their followings, cattiness, people who don’t disclose ADs, brands who seem to be incapable of diversifying their campaigns, I could go on for a while here… – but I have to say, if I hear ONE MORE PERSON say they’re going to ‘fix’ the industry I might actually scream.
Obviously, there are things that could change for the better within this industry – personally, I would love to see third party bots cut off from Instagram for good and serious action taken on those who do not disclose ADs – but often I find that the movement for ‘things to change’ comes from a business perspective, rather than a genuine desire to make things better. And with a business perspective, comes elaborative plans that ‘can’t be disclosed’ but essentially boil down to painting influencers as the bad guys and the business as the people who are going to ‘authenticate’ and help brands benefit from the industry.
You’ll notice I’ve put authenticate in quotation marks there – it’s because any tool or rubber stamp of approval I’ve seen so far tends to be flawed, with genuine hard working influencers losing out because a third party has deemed them unworthy to work with! All at a cost to brands desperate to find ‘genuine’ influencers to work with, of course…
So many of us have a huge desire for the influencer industry to thrive, and for those who are honest and creating quality content to be truly successful. So it’s disheartening when the only people who seem to get air time about influencers are those who only have a financial stake in the industry (and a flashy PR team to pimp them out).
Now, my issue isn’t with the desire to change the industry for the better, not at all, it’s with the people who are often the ones taking this stance. For instance, last week I was in a room full of influencers (some of whom had used bots, and some of whom were not disclosing ADs properly) where I listened to a presentation from a smug middle aged man who confessed he doesn’t use social media before vaguely making punchy statements about how his business would ‘fix’ the industry.
THIS is exactly what I’m sick of – people who don’t use social media, who don’t have a passion for content creation involving themselves within the industry under the guise of trying to make it a better place. Now, I’m sure there’s a tiny part of what they’re doing that is about that, but to me it just doesn’t feel genuine at all. Especially when these people hate the term influencer, think the majority are sell outs and don’t use the bloody platforms themselves.
There’s nothing appealing about a presentation from someone who talks about influencers like they are the dirt on the bottom of their shoe before trying to onboard you with their latest business idea. What’s so frustrating is that the basic ideas are often good, but the attitude about influencers and social media means I stand there rolling my eyes instead of getting excited about it.
It’s hard to invest my time (and promote) about a business that was created by people who seem to think they are superior to content creators, no matter how good their intentions may be. Honestly, I think these businesses would be much better off not letting those who lack a love for social media speak at their events. I would much rather listen to a more junior member of staff speak, if it meant they were passionate about the industry and increasing its longevity!
This is something that is really important to me – there are creators who have been a part of the industry since it began and I really wish those with the money to make a difference listened to them more! I know the ASA have previously consulted with influencers, but what help is that really when the CMA bulldozes in with more complex rules less than a year later?!
I worry about the longevity of the industry when big budgets are often allocated to companies whose CEOs are noticeably distant from the industry. There’s a lot of spend on ‘immediate results’ right now (which often leads to money spent on less than honest influencers, just to bump up the follower/engagement count on campaign reports). It would be great if we could all take a step back, listen to those who have learnt from experience as a full-time creator THEN start investing money in businesses whose focus is on improving the community and helping it to thrive, rather than benefitting off of it in the short-term before jumping ship once one too many brands have been burnt by phoney metrics and a lack of results.
*end of rant* those are my feelings on the topic, but I would love to know what you think! Do you feel the influencer industry can be ‘fixed’? Do you think the right/wrong people are applauded within the industry? Let me know!
Photography by @shotsbyfifi