Are you REALLY an Influencer?
Yo. Let’s talk about spheres of influence and influencers for a minute.
If you’re a blogger, you probably freaked out when Instagram changed their algorithm, presumably just to mess with the insta-famous influencers out there.
If you’re not a blogger, you may or may not have been introduced to the term “influencer” but I can guarantee you’ve been affected by one.
If you’ve seen any sort of ad with celebrity star power in it, you’ve been “influenced”. Or if you follow a particular blogger or entrepreneur, they’re an “influencer” on your world – whether you buy what they peddle or not.
Becoming an Influencer
I’ve made friends with a handful of newbie bloggers, many with the same concerns about becoming an influencer or questioning the influence of others, since I started my blog. As I’m writing this, I have around 500 followers on Twitter, about 200 on Instagram, less than 50 on my Facebook page, and about 8 subscribers to my blog. In terms of Internet real estate, I’ve got nothing.
What I do have is a rock-solid marketing background and critical eye for both self-proclaimed and authentic influencers. So yes, I’m going to “go there” even though I am not an influencer.
Busting Influencer Myths
The biggest myth about influencers? Numbers = influence.
Sorry (not sorry), but if I’m a brand looking to partner up with an influencer, I’m looking at more than how many followers you have.
I’m looking at how your followers and fans interact with you, and how you interact back. Are you getting a ton of likes? Cool, good start. What about comments? It takes two seconds to send some double-tap love, but leaving a comment shows people actually dig your content and find it worthy enough to engage with it.
The second biggest myth? Influencers get free rides and free stuff.
I hate to break it to you, but the guys and gals of the internet out there rocking those totes adorable shoes and lounging on pristine beaches worked their butts of to get there. They were baby bloggers and Instagrammers once upon a time too, using their paid vacations to source content, scraping up pennies to buy luxury handbags and reviewing them fo’ free.
Now? If they’re lucky they get comped a stay at a swanky hotel, but it’s still not free. Why? Because they’re photographing it, filming it, critiquing it, writing about it and posting their little thumbs off to promote it.
The third biggest myth? Influencers always get what they want.
I don’t care if you have a million followers, and every tweet you send fluttering into the world gets a hundred thousand interactions. Even if you’ve reached true “influencer” status, no one is doing you a disservice by turning you away from their brand.
From a marketing perspective, brands have to think strategically. If they turn you away, even if you consider yourself a perfect influencer for them, then maybe you aren’t a perfect match.
If that happens, see what went wrong. Maybe your numbers are too low for them. Maybe your engagement isn’t as high as they’d like. Maybe you asked for the penthouse suite and the Kanye package and they gave you a bottle of champagne and a standard double room because that’s the value they equate you with.
Business is business, after all. No one owes you anything.
My Experience as an “Influencer”
Remember how I said I’m not an influencer like 8 paragraphs back? That’s not exactly true. I may not have the big numbers to draw in hotel packages or couture clothing, but my teeny little sphere of influence does exist.
When I wrote my review of Blush & Whimsy’s lipstick, I did it to support a local company, knowing that there was no way in heck I could get a real collaboration out of them with my measly 8 followers.
After I published my post, I got a few messages from people thanking me for the tip and posting their before and after photos with #findingataraxia. Pretty cool for my little baby blog.
Moral of the story? You have influence, even if you’re not an influencer. Just know the difference before you start throwing shade, k?
A Call To Influencers
Still think you’re an influencer? Then I’ve got a challenge for you.
There’s a lot of ugly in this world; death and destruction, pain and despair, people starving, pleading for basic human necessities, people slinging politics and hate-speech, spinning fake news for attention. I’m calling all of you real influencers out.
Use your spheres of influence to spread a message of love and hope, kindness and decency. Drown out the hate speech. The ignorance. The racism and bigotry. Take a stand simply by filling the world with one more kind word, a smile instead of averted eyes.