Why are we still mocking the influencer?
We've heard it all before… from people stating adamantly they are 'not an influencer' to it not being seen as a 'real' occupation, the stigma attached to being an influencer is definitely out there.
Gary Lineker recently posted:
How do you become an influencer?— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) January 27, 2021
As you would expect (generally) from Twitter the replies were abundant and mainly derogatory, but then there were the few that stood up for their profession:
I wonder if writers, photographers, social media managers, those who work in marketing, advertising or accounting have to constantly justify their job in the same way that those of us who do ALL OF THOSE THINGS under the label of “influencer” do on a daily basis....🤔— fivelittledoves (@fivelittledoves) January 28, 2021
Yes, they are an easy target. We've laughed and learnt when they've got it wrong - we've followed an 'influencer scandal' with interest or mocked the use of forced advertising or the over-filtered face. Brands get it wrong too, with many being outed for assuming every influencer wants something for free or not respecting their time and individuality.
We've worked with influencers for nearly 10 years. From the early days of freebies and nobody having any idea what to measure, to where we are today. The industry is growing and becoming more measurable and credible with every year. The tools we have allow us to find the right people for the project, the new TikTok Creator Marketplace for example is brilliant (note how they call them Creators). The brands we work with take it very seriously with larger budgets, creativity and higher expectations.
So, why are will still mocking them?
There are definitely influencers that get the mix of paid/authentic off balance, but then there are many that take a huge amount of pride in their collaborations and only work with brands they can genuinely get behind.
There are lots of reasons from a brand perspective why we work with influencers, which we can easily justify, but moving that aside for a minute, here are a couple of reasons why we all need them and why the reputation of the influencer needs to shift.
They are real people
Unlike models and the celebrities that have a team of pros making them look their best selves, most influencers are real people.
They come in all shapes and sizes from all different backgrounds and cultures and we need this. I'm talking about the community of hard-working influencers that have a solid, committed following and an important message to share.
So, for every woman that posts about the reality of their postpartum body, who celebrates their curves or talks about stretch marks - we need you. For the parents that are talking about the difficulties of parenting, home-schooling or posting tips to help others that are finding it difficult - we need you. For the ones that talk openly about their mental health to encourage others to read and reach out, the ‘I had a bad day’ sharers - we also need you.
Not every influencer needs an empowering message, of course, we just welcome an alternative from the one-dimensional hero we get in the mainstream media. Whether you are an influencer or follower, the influencer community can be a refreshing, outspoken, supportive, modern, diverse and flawed mixture of people to look up to. And that's what we really need.
It's really hard work
I've read a few posts today with experts stating that 'it’s easier than ever' to become an influencer these days. No, it’s not. Most of the influencers we work with spend ages on their content, often juggling two jobs. They invest their money on making their content interesting and put a great deal of thought into getting it right - making sure they give their followers something relatable or inspirational.
So yes, we can call them a 'creator', 'content marketer', ‘tastemaker’ or ‘key opinion leader’ but 'influencer' is not a dirty word. Especially when most influencers are part photographer, designer, copywriter and social media expert, which is no easy thing. So, I think it’s time we moved on and respected the influencer like any creative freelancer and give them the credit that is due.