In this day and age, everyone’s on their phones, laptops and gadgets constantly. Long gone are the days where our only source of entertainment on the SBS bus ride home are your discman and the television playing a repeat episode of Mr Bean and Just for Laughs. Its great because now we don’t have to feel like our time in traffic is wasting away and you can actually see what your friends are up to without having to meet them in person. All that time spent online has also reached new heights. From sharing information we find on our Facebook feed and instantly uploading a picture of your dinner to share with your friends, social media gains more attention than TV and magazine advertising did. So, a new form of marketing has emerged – Social Media Marketing. And who do these companies look for to help advertise their products? That’s right, Influencers.
Yes, Influencers in italics. The term Influencers has always made the hairs on my back stand. So does the term fans and followers. It sounds like you’re so full of yourself. But that is how marketers and companies refer to anyone who earns some sorta income from blogging, uploading YouTube videos and, these days, even just posting a photo on Instagram. Companies don’t just look for a specific media to target their audience anymore and to say they’re looking for bloggers (who are required to blog) or YouTubers (who are required to create YouTube videos) just won’t do. You’ll need to be on other social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook to be more specific, to have higher chances of getting the job. And how do we clinch the deal? Mainly from your number of followers.
Just a while back, I was asked by one of bosses of a shop I was promoting for my number of followers even though my blog stats and profile have been reviewed and accepted. I’ve been doing this for a while so I immediately knew she was refering to my Instagram and, to be very blunt, she probably wasn’t too keen to hear that I don’t have a jackpot number of followers. She then went on to mention how she had a certain Influencer who had over 10k followers promote her products. Erm, okay. Not a really good start but her demeaner towards me changed when she realised that I blog too. Thank goodness, her product was really awesome and I figure as a business, she wants the best way to reach potential customers and not merely some freeloader claiming to be an Influencer. But this made me realise how much the numbers on your social media profile really matters to companies. But can these companies trust these numbers?Over the recent years, there have been many stories of people buying followers for their Instagram profiles. And mind you, they’re not cheap. I’ve heard some people spend hundreds of dollars for that! Whatever for right? That’s because, the larger the numbers, the bigger the brand and in some cases, the bigger the paycheck so some people cheat their way around it and some marketers then didn’t know any better. Of course, Instagram has curbed this problem now and many Influencers who have been exposed buying followers (that are really just robots) have had their reputation and good name flushed down the toilet. You’d think that companies and brand owners will be more aware of this by now? Nope, not all of them are educated on this matter merely looking at the big number on the profile but not realising that what really matters is the engagement on each post – the likes and comments – and that not everyone’s focus is on Instagram. I’ve seen and know of some who have less than a 1000 followers on Instagram but have thousands of YouTube subscribers with a huge audience on almost every video.
Having said this, for bloggers and video creators, you’d have to clock in that additional hours on Instagram too. Because, like it or not, it is part of your branding, you don’t wanna be a social media caveman and chase away potential advertisers who might appreciate your work. Think of Facebook like an appetiser, YouTube or your blog like the main dish and Instagram like a side dish, you can’t say you’ve had a the full experience until you’ve tried all 3 courses so having one and not the other is just not gonna cut it in the competitive world of social media marketing. This goes for those of you who are just Instagram-ing, putting all your eggs into one basket is risky business and may not give you as much value as a YouTuber or a blogger because you can only fit so much info into a small space and only one link out of your profile; already missing out on the opportunities you may be able to make with affiliate links, promotions and traffic. Unless, of course, if you’re as big as Kylie Jenner or earn $300 per featured Instagram post then, fine. But other than that, you may wanna have an actual ‘home base’.
So does your number of followers really matter? To a certain extent, yes, but it shouldn’t consume your life. No doubt, having more likes on a picture gives a temporary boost to your ego and loosing some followers due to your short absence from the platform can make you feel really sad. I’m human, I’m guilty of this and I feel it too. But you must remember that you have a life and actual friends and family who really love you and not fans who are merely liking every one of your pictures. That makes you incredibly lucky, some people search their whole lives for true love and trust but can never truly find it. If Instagram makes you feel lousy, take a break from it and, just like friends, if your followers want to be in your life, they’d wait. If they don’t then let them go, don’t waste your precious time, efforts and energy. At least, that is what I tell myself. Some days, I get merely 50 likes on a picture, screw it. Other days, I get over a hundred likes within 2 hours when I’m not looking. Don’t let your focus be collecting likes, collect beautiful memories and showcase them like your personal storybook to look through and reminise next year, life means so much more than a perfect colour coordinated feed. That is my Insta-goal now and it has definitely made me feel much better about myself, the likes and followers will soon follow.
I hope this gives you an insight to what Influencers really do and why you shouldn’t let your Instagram following dictate your life. Remember that you are love beyond just the digital world, it’s okay not to be picture perfect and that you’re a person, not a robot. Lots of love from me to you.