The Problem with Influencers
“Influencer” is a title that I’ve been flirting on the edges of for about a year. My blog makes some money, if only a little, and I’m on a PR list or two for some smaller niche brands. I don’t really consider myself to be an influencer, and it’s increasingly becoming an uncomfortable thing for me. When brands reach out and refer to me as an influencer, I feel uneasy. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about why.
I don’t feel like an influencer.
I think the world influencer is dumb, because I don’t think I influence people. I’ve been blogging out of bedroom since I was in a college dorm in 2010. This blog has undergone multiple different iterations and the equipment has gotten more high-tech, but in the end, it’s a girl sitting on a couch with a camera and a laptop. Can I influence people? Some people use my affiliate links, but I wouldn’t even start to call that influential. Likewise, I don’t think of myself as someone who is influenced by influencers. They are pretty pictures I follow on instagram, and on some occasions, they do cause some sort of inspiration, but I am rarely leveraged to buy anything being advertised or recommended, which also makes me question the return on influencer marketing dollars spent.
There will always be bias in your reviews as an influencer.
This is something that influencers, including me, will fiercely contest. My reviews are honest and I wouldn’t think of lying to the followers that I love and trust. Buuuutttt…when you are not the one standing in the store, looking at products, getting ready to fork over your hard-earned cash, your opinion will be different compared to someone who got the product for free or was paid to talk about it. When something is already in your house, and has appeared via UPS like magic, it does make a difference in how generous a person is when discussing a product. See, for example, the difference in reviews for a pricey item like the new Dyson Airwrap Curling Iron. The difference in reviews between people who paid $500 for a curling iron and those who received it in PR is striking. Even when we try not to have bias, it’s there, and I think that’s something that any “influencer” needs to recognize and work through.
It makes every day a photoshoot, and that’s not fun.
I hate that when we go out to dinner, I’m thinking about things I can tweet about, or pictures I can take, or how to switch it into a blog post. I don’t want that. I have been working really hard to be in the moment and spend less time essentially ruining my vacations with content planning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not eliminating all of my content from when I’m out and about (she says, vlogging ever day in December), but I am focusing a lot on being more selective about how to spend time blogging while with Charles, or our family and friends. It’s made me more strategic, and also made blogging and instagramming more fun again instead of treating them like an obligation, but it’s also slowed my growth a lot.
Anyway, all this brings me to something I have been loving lately. It’s a website called SwearBy, and I have hugely high hopes about it. It’s a website that I have been using almost every day where women “swear by” their favorite things. It has to be something you’d rate 11/10, and there is no compensation or paid reviews of any kind. I am hopeful that this is a new kind of influencer marketing that feels more authentic and real. If you’re interested, you can check it out here, and if you want to join, hit me up for an invite! It’s not a kickback thing, but the website wants to make sure that the contributors to the site are trustworthy. I think it’s a good system, and I hope it works!
What are your thoughts on Influencers? Let me know!