Influencers are everywhere online and you can find people who will talk, blog, and record videos about any topic or promote various products and services. With the rise of sites like Influenster and Pinch Me, everyone can feel like one for a moment. (If chosen for those sites, as they have criteria that reviewers/testers must match to qualify.) However there has been the trend of people who fake their follower counts by buying users to bulk up their numbers or those who loop in people to sign up for updates and newsletters through giveaways and contests. This leads to the question of who is truly an influencer and who is in it for the freebies?
Perhaps the concept did start with good intentions though. Regular individuals like you and me have shown that they would rather trust the opinions of a regular, working individual versus a celebrity endorser these days. Especially if the regular person reviewing the item or promoting a business doesn’t look like your stereotypical air-brushed glamazon with a perfect life, home, job, etc. We feel we can relate more to the every day individuals, which may be why we spend time subscribing and following normal, every day people who claim they buy or try things on their own dime and give candid reviews for everyone to see.
Nowadays, anyone can open a YouTube or Instagram account and post content to grab attention. Once someone sees your work or your style, usually it gets passed along by others, increasing the potential for foot traffic. Yet for every successful person with a strong following, there’s several struggling to make a name for themselves. It’s almost a get rich quick scheme when looking at it from the darker side – some of the celebrities and influencers make a good deal of money from their endorsements or for making posts about various products. No office required, no staff, just one person (supposedly) making the content on one platform and showing the world who they are.
While some brands have embraced the trend of reaching out to influencers to help promote their brand or product, others have stayed away, having seen the uglier side of it. Many “influencers” try to reach out to brands, boldly asking for free product or trips so they can create more videos and image content for their accounts, claiming this will drive the brand’s business up. But companies such as this ice cream truck have struck back, pointing out that they have their own publicity and name for their brand out there – no “influencer” assistance needed.
The question I now ask is, who truly is in the influencer job/business for the right reasons any more?