I recently sat in a meeting in which a female client, sipping on her coffee in my office, casually summed up the conversationwith “get me the mozza in the store” in reference to social media influencers she would like to invite for her store opening. Not only did this offend me as a woman and a professional, but it also showed the blunt disrespect towards the very person that should advertise her brand. Needless to say, we did not take this client on. As a marketing professional, a magazine editor and human being I feel obliged to give my 2 centsto the current social media craze.
In our business we are constantly looking for influencers to write about and share with our readers what these extra-ordinary people do to motivate and encourage others. It is about ideas that are worth spreading, about lives that are worth sharing and moments that are so precious that they touch the audience.
“If you are out chasing rainbows all day and night when do you find time to work on your blog, create your new winter collection or spend time reflecting on your brand?”
Substance & Content
For a person to be called an “influencer” one has to actually pick something one is passionate about, good at and live it every day. You need to be authentic and genuine. If you are into fashion it is not enough to dress nicely and take a photo every single day, as this just makes you a person that dresses nicely every single day. Create a blog, invest long hours in scouting trends, work on your writing skills and give your audience content to look forward to. Love what you do as it will show in every post, in every caption and in every action you take. If you love food and call yourself a foodie in your bio, it is not enough to post every single meal you eat paired with poor grammar. Choose a language that you master well, preferably your native tongue, and show us how much you love food through quality not quantity. Learn about food, its origins and tell us the story of every single beautiful food moment. Educate yourself with food photography tutorials and do it with love and passion and success will follow.
“Creating a brand and a business cannot have the hit and run “sabooba” mindset.”
Identity & Integrity
You have to create yourself as a brand and stand for something. You need an identity and stay true to it. You cannot be a chameleon that talks about anything and everything. You have to have a clear set of values and what you stand for. As a fashion blogger I don’t see you communicating about toothpaste on your channels because it’s paid. As a fitness guru I don’t see you advertising junk food because it pays well. As a magazine standing for women empowerment I cannot accept plastic surgery ads as it contradicts what we stand for. Yes, you do miss out on the money, but it’s the wrong kind of money. Creating a brand and a business cannot have the hit and run “sabooba” mindset. So make sure you are honest to your audience, respect it and stay true to yourself.
“For a person to be called an “influencer” one has to actually pick something one is passionate about, good at and live it every day. You need to be authentic and genuine.”
Quality vs. Quantity
In our business we have crazy social calendars, but as a brand you have to be selective and realize that less is often more. I mean if you are at every single shop opening, trunk show, open day, new menu launch and what the heck not; you might overdose on social events. I understand the “to be seen” part of our industry but quality should outweigh quantity. Ask yourself does attending this function really contribute to the growth of my brand? Does this function match my identity? If you are out chasing rainbows all day and night when do you find time to work on your blog, create your new winter collection or spend time reflecting on your brand?
Lifecycle & Staying in Business
Anything has an expiration date attached to it and for a brand to survive it has to constantly evolve and re-invent itself. Madonna wouldn’t be who she is, if she wasn’t constantly revamping herself and evolving with her growth. Staying in business is actually the hardestpart and requires discipline. You cannotstay stuck in the same timeline, allow random brands to misuse you and expect to be around in a year or two. It doesn’t work this way.
“Keep in mind that maybe some younger girls are following you thinking how happy and fabulous you are from the perfectly styled images you post, not knowing that it took you 36 trials and 5 filters until you reached “instagram-post-perfection” and that you are a very normal person with a pimple on your cheek.”
Reality vs Responsibility
Once you have an audience that trusts you a certain responsibility comes along with it. You are responsible for what you say or post knowing that your opinion matters to those who chose to follow you. If you constantly post images of you that don’t show the reality you are misleading the audience. You are faking a reality for the sake of paying sponsors, which is not very ethical. Keep in mind that maybe some younger girls are following you thinking how happy and fabulous you are from the perfectly styled images you post, not knowing that it took you 36 trials and 5 filters until you reached “instagram-post-perfection” and that you are a very normal person with a pimple on your cheek.
This is not a personal attack on anyone rather a sober outlook on what is happing at the moment. People are tired of brands sending free stuff to the same people everyday and it has no real return on investment on the brand unless these people are actually liked and respected by the very audience they are recruited to “influence”. So please agencies, clients and influencers stop participating in this charade and let’s respect our audiences more than this. If we all put rules to this game it will take its designated size and be one among many PR tools.