The truth about social media and being an “influencer” in this day and age is not what most people assume it to be. The term influencer is thrown around more frequently and is becoming a common career young boys, girls, men and women want to strive towards. With social media being ‘the beast’ it is more people are tuning into their favourite influencers looking for a personal connection, someone they can relate to, trust and almost seem like a ‘close friend’. Most influencers would say that they strive on a daily basis to create relatable content, showing part or sometimes all of their daily lives in order to become trusted by their audience as someone who is really just like them. But this new trend of wanting to become an influencer is getting miss construed in becoming “Insta famous” or somewhat of a “celebrity”, focusing on building the largest number of followers (any way they can) rather than building a genuine brand for themselves and creating content that resonates with their audience.
I think the miss conception of a social media ‘influencer’ is that life is full of freebies, constant travel, coffee dates, freebies, events, brunch dates etc. (you get my drift!) But this is far from the truth. On behalf of myself (not taking into account other peoples experiences) I would consider myself an “influencer” 30 per cent of my day. Most people who look at my Instagram and I have met assume that I do this full time, get plenty of sponsored posts and have somewhat of a ‘perfect’ life. Remember that social media also has a blurred line between what we think is reality and carefully curated version of real life. I will always be the first to admit my feed shows a very structured, clean and aesthetically pleasing space and every image has an element of reality, whether it’s what I’m wearing but in a flat lay style, or my chaotic workspace, it is also a ‘stylized version’ of what it might actually look like.
The trend these days is to make this lifestyle their job and hats off to those who have made this social media world their full time careers. I have yet to put all my eggs in one basket and not sure that I ever will. I work the other 70% of my day as a Communication Designer and consider my Instagram and my blog an extension of that, plus a little insight into my world. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this crazy, fast paced world of social media but in reality it is not as luxurious as it may seem. Assuming that we all make thousands of dollars a week from working with brands and incredible sponsorships. Truth is, the jobs are few and far between, with the industry being so saturated with influencers all fighting for the same collaboration. Behind the scenes influencers and/or their management are consistently pitching concepts and partnerships to brands in the hope of landing a job. Meanwhile still creating content, building their following (or even struggling with the constant changes to the algorithm) and constantly pushing to stay relevant.
I have been working on my Instagram seriously for the past 5 years, building my following, watching others stream hundreds and thousands in front of me. As time goes on, I’m sure I’m not alone on this, that it can become disheartening. This space has also changed over the years, as more people quit their jobs and have become “influencers” full time, the urge to gain more followers is of top priority. For those that have experienced this first hand, friendships lost and potentially gained all because of a number that remains on the top of your feed. There is still an element of this space that is great to meet amazing likeminded people who will collaborate with one another, but I feel as though this is slowly changing and only occurring if it is going to benefit one another, rather than building genuine friendships (not to be a complete downer, there are still people who are great at sharing the love!).
Whilst I can consider part of my job as an influencer and I have incredible opportunities and gifted lots of amazing products. I think there is a huge misconception and sometimes feel as though I need to justify myself in order to make people see that I didn’t just “get lucky” or that as an influencer all you have to do is take a photo of some product and upload. Little do most people know that even though I consider myself a relatively small influencer I have worked for many years building a genuine following and interacting constantly, giving up weekends to create content and relentlessly developing my style and brand. Sometimes there is free product but at the end of the day the aim is to get paid whilst doing it which is not as easy as most may think. Influencers work incredibly hard planning concepts and briefs, taking hours not minutes to shoot, editing content and uploading (whether paid or not). It doesn’t just end there, we then have this duty to our job to then interact (which I really love) with our followers who really listen and take part in every image they are shown on our feeds. Still as a relatively new field, influencers have become businesses that deserve to make money from their platforms and to be used creatively for content and their particular talents. Don’t be fooled influencers have spent hours on end building their brand and following, even though sometimes we only see the small percentage of those who have become an ‘overnight success’, the dedication, passion and sacrifices go unknown.
Influencers get paid for every post.
Definitely not the case, in reality it would be a dream to be paid for every post, but unfortunately doesn’t always happen. Much to people’s disbelief some influencers don’t get as many paid posts as you think. Whilst some influencers are making thousands of dollars per post, some post for free and pretend they are getting paid, others promote brands for free in the hope of developing a genuine relationship with the brand which could then lead to potential sponsored posts.
Influencers receive free product daily.
Yes this is true for some. Free product may seem amazing (which it is), however, this doesn’t pay the bills! Some influencers strategically target brands, accepting product and then create content so other companies see what they can do in order to build a portfolio. The product I receive and choose to feature on my platforms I genuinely love, tried and tested myself. Although majority of the products you may see on my feed are typically bought out of my own pocket. By all means I appreciate gifts from brands, but I also invest in items myself rather than outwardly ask brands for everything.
Influencers have managers and plan everything for them.
True and false. I myself have management who respond to emails and clients who have contacted me directly, constantly scouting, pitching and negotiating on my behalf for brand deals or content creation. Apart from this, everything else is done by me and only me. From concept development, sourcing product and props, photography, editing, the list is endless. However, there are some influencers (even larger scale) who choose to manage themselves. Some paying for a freelance photographer to shoot their content but the rest is completely done by themselves.
Brands constantly approach influencers for sponsored work.
Unfortunately this is too and far between, majority of an influencers time (apart from creating content) is reaching out to brands, via email and catching up for meetings. Sponsored work can come from a simple pitch or take months to develop before it actually appears on your feed. So when influencers say they are hustling, trust me, this would be the most time consuming part of the job which may or may not become a reality. Which is why I have yet to commit to being an influencer ‘full time’ and incorporate my two worlds into one purely for the enjoyment and passion of loving what I do.
Influencers just take pictures and go to events for a living.
To some extent yes it might appear like that. But behind the scenes there is more of a strategic process of finding the right brand at the right time, attending a launch event, landing a sponsored post, creating and shooting content. Constantly being relevant, interacting and connecting with an audience all whilst being as ‘on brand’ but still genuine as possible. To say the least it’s a bit of a juggling act but all part of the job.
So the next time you look at your Instagram feed take a close look and realise the time and energy gone in to each and every image (sponsored or not). The influencer world is not what people assume and yes there is a element of a ‘distorted reality’ but I think we all need to appreciate the amazing content people create on a daily basis.