I started off my career as being just an Image consultant but never stopped accepting new challenges and avenues of growth. One thing lead to the next and I found myself adventuring into makeup, styling food events ,blogging, styling projects for fashion , mentoring students at various levels and also keeping my one on one clients in my radar all the while.
Over a course of a few years I found more and more people following me on my social media sites, which was also with continued efforts of documentation of work and being relentless in self promotion.
In the last one year more and more businesses started approaching me to use my following to get their message across. This was fantastic as I got to use all my skills of makeup, styling , soft skills and help them present themselves in the best possible way.
I wanted to share their stories through my blog but soon found myself just posting on my instagram and facebook with no real story to tell….
At a recent event somebody asked me if I was an influencer and that really got me thinking. I needed to redefine my role and take my campaigns more responsibly. I need to study my followers better and know who they are to be able to ‘influence’. This will help me to choose my projects to really bring tangible results.
‘Sponsored’, ‘Paid promotion’ and #ad are not uncommon to look at scrolling through your insta-feed today. The growth of influencer-marketing has been unprecedented as brands like SugarBearHair rely exclusively on their Instagram influencers and spend absolutely nothing on traditional advertising. And with this increasing investment being pumped in the newly opened up sector, more and more individuals are trying to enter the industry as ‘influencers’. There are guidebooks and listicles titled, “How to become an Instagram Influencer and start earning money now”, “How to become an influencer in any industry” and the “Step-by-step guide to becoming an influencer.” Now, there’s just something inherently wrong with the train of thought these articles are written on.
How does one become an influencer? It is not logically possible. It is not a career-choice. Even the Kardashians needed a reality-show to catapult themselves into the industry, garner attention and then build a following that they could then influence. ‘Influencer’ by its definition is not a profession. Socialities can be influencers, actors can be influencers, musicians, artists, authors, businesspeople. But you cannot go to college to study to become an influencer. The very idea of ‘becoming’ one is bizarre.
Another problem in the industry today is people seem to have blurred the line between ‘blogger’, ‘influencer’ and ‘marketer’. They seem to have a cohesive definition now and Instagrammers are using them interchangeably.
Now let’s get something clear, they are three distinct roles and it is possible for one person to play all three but they cannot be used in place of one another. A blogger is anyone who blogs. And not every blogger is an influencer just like not every influencer is a blogger.
Marketers are a separate industry altogether. Their primary job is to sell stuff for their clients and there is a lot of analysis and strategizing that goes into it.
Now, a blogger with sufficient following to qualify as an influencer can turn into a social-media influencer. That is how the progression would logically work. Or an individual with a marketing background can become an influencer because of the credibility they gained through their work as a marketer. But in no way on god’s green earth can one just start out with being an influencer.
Most of the successful influencers today are individuals who created content that they loved, regardless of how the brand they’re talking about would perceive it or how many likes it would get them. It has become such a number game today where brands focus on Instagram insights over the quality of the content. Those insights say nothing about how many of their followers actually translated into customers and more so, the brand image that one imparted. We see the same brand being promoted by multiple ‘social media influencers’ with more or less the same caption and giving out the same message. There’s no differentiation and there’s this incredible lack of credibility. A model, in my humble opinion, is not qualified to inform me about what supplements I should be taking with one #ad post. There’s an increasing inexperience that is flooding the industry. Most of the marketing content being created by ‘social media influencers’ is done with almost zero analysis. More often than not, their content is similar because brands have written very specific briefs for them. And why would the brands need to write these briefs telling them exactly what to write and what to post? Because they don’t trust their work, they just trust the said influencer’s following.
Blogging as marketing is like citizen journalism. It exists but it cannot always be reliable. It takes more than just a pretty face and modelesque figure to become a blogger-turned-influencer (which is a term we can try to be comfortable with). There’s photography, writing skills, a sense of aesthetics, an aptitude for analysis and certain other credentials that go into creating brand strategies that can be successfully called a marketing strategy. This influencer-marketing is a highly unsustainable model because
- there is no qualification necessary which it makes it an incredibly easy industry to enter.
- It’s a new form of advertising but there is no proof that it does significantly better than traditional methods.
- Even if it is here to say, it is here to say as a package with traditional forms of advertising and marketing
On a parting note, next time you are approaching blogger-turned-influencers; try and understand how they contribute to your brand in their own way and would you still approach them if they did not have the high number of followers that they have somehow managed to amass. What do they do for your brand image apart from just driving traffic towards your site? These are the real questions.