Hi guys, today’s post is something very different and I’m still in two minds about whether I want to post this. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and certain events yesterday regarding a mouthwash ad are kind of the icing on my cake. I’m talking about ‘influencers’, relatability and what that really means.
I see a lot online about people not liking certain content creators because they don’t find them relatable. Or how a lot of ‘influencers’ seem out of touch.
Firstly, I’d like to start with how the word ‘influencer’ is the most ridiculous term. Everyone has influence. Whether you’re a Kardashian with influence over millions, a small, but successful Instagrammer with influence over thousands, reaching a few hundred on Twitter or just chatting to your best friend, everyone has influence over someone. We’re all an ‘influencer’ to some degree.
Growing a Following and Gaining ‘Influence’
But, ‘influencers’, as in those with a large social media following who create pretty pictures, don’t become influential overnight. Anyone who has ever built a platform knows it isn’t easy. Whether that’s a blog, YouTube or an Instagram account, you don’t start from nothing and suddenly end up with thousands of followers without making an effort.
It takes a lot of work, planning and strategy; much of which comes without reward. You build a following because people like your content, ‘theme’ or voice. Why people follow you may differ depending on your platform. I know there are people I follow on YouTube whose content I don’t love, but I like the vibe they give off as a person, so I follow them anyway. Likewise, I’m sure some people follow people they don’t necessarily like as people but love their makeup looks (or whatever they do) so continue to follow for those.
With Instagram though, it’s all about the photos. Sure, you might have punny captions that are entertaining, but really when you look at the grid, all you see are images. People follow you because they like your photo style, whether that’s lots of pinks, glossy and white, full of florals or something different entirely.
Social Media Advertising
It takes a lot of work because it is work. Yes, it’s a new career and many people don’t understand it, but being an online content creator is a real job, paying very real (and sometimes substantial) money. When you get paid to run an ad, it’s because they like your style. That image you perfectly curated paid off, you built a following who like that style and a brand wants to pay you to feature their product. Great. You create an image that fits within your theme, then you get hate for not being realistic.
You’ve created an advert that isn’t 100% real? Groundbreaking.
I know Instagram started as a simple photo sharing platform and some people don’t see that it’s become a place to advertise as well. But, nothing you see on Instagram is 100% real. Even if you’re not a content creator fully staging images, that photo you took with your friends last week? It was still probably staged in some way. Whether that’s for better lighting, a nicer angle, better background, you took 50 until there was one you were all happy with. I guarantee that you didn’t take out the camera, point, shoot once then put it away again.
Yesterday, I saw people criticising that ad in question because of the impressions it creates on young girls. I think, personally, any younger girl growing up in the age of Instagram knows that it isn’t real life. I think anyone who has ever woken up and got out of bed knows that isn’t what the average bedroom looks like, as much as they know I don’t actually keep my beauty products perfectly lined up on a scrunched white sheet. But, if they don’t know, that isn’t the fault of the content creator. We teach kids that TV isn’t real, we tell young girls not to compare themselves to magazines because it isn’t real; it’s about time that we educate them that the internet isn’t real either.
An advert is an advert, whether it’s in a glossy mag, a billboard, TV screen or an app on your phone.
But this isn’t just about adverts, or just about Instagram. I said in the beginning that this had been on my mind for a while, and the events yesterday triggered something I’ve been wanting to say. This is about an overall image online and why people think it needs to be realistic.
I see a lot of people say they don’t like Zoe and Alfie anymore because they aren’t relatable and their lives don’t seem realistic. Newsflash: they aren’t, and that’s down to the people who watch them. You can’t run up to someone on the street like they’re a celebrity, get excited, starstruck and ask for photos, buy their merch then complain when they no longer live like a regular person.
You can’t make someone a celebrity then complain when they live like one.
Now, that £1 a day video clearly missed the mark (no excuses there). And the content in the average haul gets more expensive. But people live within their means, it isn’t their fault that your life isn’t the same. These people built their platforms from nothing. They can be aspirational rather than relatable.
Do Creators Have to be Relatable?
I’ve never understood the notion that a content creator has to be relatable. I read fashion magazines knowing I can’t afford the Chanel dress on the cover, and that doesn’t make me enjoy it less. We built these people up to become (low level) celebrities and will only continue to watch if their content doesn’t change even when their lives do? I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen anyone complain that Kylie Jenner is wearing something that they can’t afford on Instagram.
I keep referring to the Kardashians and Kylie because their journey is somewhat similar to the average content creator. I’ve never followed, and I certainly don’t ‘Keep Up’ with the Kardashians. But, I don’t live under a rock, so I see their lives online frequently. Of course, this is a different scale but look at that family in season 1. Then look at them starting to get magazine covers and becoming excited to buy certain things. Now, look at the entire family and their empire today.
That show has been on just over a decade and thanks to social media, people seem more interested in what they’re doing than ever. Some of your favourite YouTubers have been making videos for about a decade too. They started with a bad camera on their bedroom floor, now they have a studio in their homes with phenomenal lighting. Their content is less raw and more polished, but please tell me how this differs from that TV show we were just talking about and their public image as a family.
Whatever you choose to read or watch, whether that’s a blogger, vlogger or TV show, is your choice. If your only desire is to watch people that you find relatable, you can absolutely choose to do that. But you can’t hate someone for making content that fits with their audience. You can’t criticise someone for creating an unrealistic ad that fits perfectly within their brand. And you definitely can’t complain when someone enjoys the rewards of the life you gave them.
This post isn’t meant to be hateful or offend anyone, it’s just me having a rant about my stance on things in the current social media climate. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Until next time,
No regular Sunday recipe today, to view my previous ones, click here.