I’m not sure who’s going to read this, but I will say my piece and rest my case thereafter.
Reminiscing the days when I first started out sharing my love for beauty through social media makes me feel a little happier. Back then, the (social media) world seemed like a community of liked-minded individuals looking to share information, news and ideas. We were all trying to share our (beauty) tips and finds on platforms such as blogs and the now #1 photo sharing App – Instagram. The conversations we had were all about sharing the best (and worst), and basically everything else under the sun.
Fast forward three years now, it seems like the whole social media landscape has changed (or did I not notice it right from the start?). The once “genuine” community I let myself into seemed to have morphed into a factory of workers churning out (similar/identical) content from the same batch of materials, or what we call “sponsorships”.
It’s no longer about the hearty conversations on what’s new and exciting but the incessant and never-ending hunt for more “freebies”. True enough, one may be tempted to want to receive more once he/she starts gaining a bit of what-you-call “fame”. I wouldn’t deny that I didn’t enjoy having things being sent my way because it’s a nice feeling having gifts delivered to you every now and then. Most of the time I don’t find the need to spend a single cent getting that favourite serum or palette because they get sent to me, but every PR drop to me is a gift from heaven and an affirmation to my hard work (on paradeoflove.com and @paradeoflove on Instagram). But guess what? People, or rather “influencers” are selling them.
I didn’t know about influencers selling products and PR kits until a once-close friend of mine decided to succumb to the temptation of making quick bucks out of it. Of course, we had our ways to confirm that (yes, I have evidence). What is then the true purpose of the PR kit if it was going to be gifted to be converted into cash for selfish gains? Whatever happened to genuine sharing? It’s disgusting.
Well, you can be with the school of thought that the monetary gains serve to be “remuneration” for the work being put in. After all, marketers are exploiting influencers now for “free” marketing by seeding products versus spending large sums of marketing dollars for traditional advertising. Who’s to blame then?
On another note, with the rise of brands diving into influencer marketing comes the exponential increase in the number of influencers in the market. (I never liked the word “influencer” … Like what does that even mean?!) However, with the recent Instagram algorithm changes*, new tactics are being employed by bloggers, influencers alike. Such tactics include and are not restricted to:
• Engagement pods: a private community of people that come together to help each other “like”, “comment”, “follow” etc. on posts with the aim of improving (cheating) engagement rates; often free
• Automatic Bots: automated systems of robots/made-up accounts to generate “likes”, “comments”, “follows” and more; paid platforms
*If you didn’t now, Instagram has changed its algorithm to show posts on your feed based on who you engage with the most instead of having posts displayed in chronological order. This has affected influencers in terms of getting the desired engagement and reach (to prove themselves).
The reason why I know so much about them is because I’ve tried both methods before, and they work, only to a certain extent. Tempted as I may be in trying to beat the algorithm, the reason I tried these methods was to understand how my fellow peers manage such seemingly high engagement rates amidst the algorithm changes, and also the crazy tactics people are using to boost their account statistics/engagement rates. Oh and with brands only looking at engagement rates, how would any quality content producer who’s not on such (cheating) platforms benefit? The highly inflated engagement rates (“likes” especially) on others’ posts just makes my 18.3K followers look fake because I can’t even get a fraction of the “likes” they have per post. Sad as it may be, life goes on. I hold a full-time job – I don’t depend on this for a living. However, I know that there are many out there who “influence” to feed themselves. With the Instagram algorithm hitting an all-time low, coupled with the cheating platforms, I am doubting the actual reach the brands will get engaging with so-called “influencers”. Oh, and don’t get me started on those who shamelessly write in to ask/beg/request for sponsorships…
At the end of the day, for me, it’s still about the passion. As much as I still enjoy receiving products, I buy what I love, and I enjoy penning down my thoughts. It’s depressing knowing that the people I was once acquainted with have (almost) all turned into such methods and means for their selfish gains. It is even more discouraging to know that (fake) numbers matter more than quality content. It goes to show how much people value authenticity and integrity compared to mere numbers.
To end off, I believe in hard work, but more than hard work, I believe in authenticity and the genuine belief of wanting to share from the heart. It’s only a matter of time that the influencer bubble bursts with all these people tarnishing the name of bloggers and influencers, don’t you think?
Create yourself and be gorgeous!