Influencers and Realism

Categories Blogging, Featured

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. 

Recipe posts: Usually a bowl balanced on a breadboard next to my front window in a desperate attempt to catch some light before it sets.

#Goals

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.  

too faced born this way foundation

influencers
The reality behind those photo: My bathroom is all white, so the light reflects well on a grey day. Almost all of my beauty photos involve me on my bathroom floor pointing at a sheet.

An advert is an advert, whether it’s in a glossy mag, a billboard, TV screen or an app on your phone. 

Creator Reality

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.  

Your Choice

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,

Sophie

No regular Sunday recipe today, to view my previous ones, click here.



29 thoughts on “Influencers and Realism

  1. Growing on social media does take a lot of time indeed. The thing with “relatable” is that it is relative. Something that is relatable to A might not be to B so it’s really hard. Also, I think people now know that social media and photos are staged and curated so it is embellishing reality and can now separate real life and social media.

  2. Wow, I found this post so interesting to read. I completely agree with you. When it comes to social media and online sharing, there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. There’s a lot more behind the scenes than people would probably expect. I’ve heard a lot about Zoe and Alfie recently and I think what you said about them is so true. Great post!

  3. This is such a well written and thought out post, and based on the events of the past few days I completely understand why you wrote it! The issue is, some people still see Instagram as the photo sharing app it once was because that’s how they still use it/who they see in their feeds. They don’t understand that it’s grown so much as an “influencer” (I hate that word so much too!) platform that ads are the norm. Of course an ad is staged – every advert that you see on TV is staged! Nobody complains about how realistic a billboard or commercial is, they need to stop complaining about these too.

    Jas xx | https://thoughtsfromjasmine.co.uk

  4. I didn’t start hearing about the term, “Influencer” until recently. It takes time to build an audience and there’s a lot of responsibility of being one. It’s a bummer when there’s always at least one person who hates on your work @___@. I agree about IG not being 100% real. I mean I don’t share the down part of my life for personal reasons. This kind of reminds me of some Tweet that went viral went someone made negative comments about some lady’s morning being filled with balloons and etc.

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

  5. The only thing that annoys me with influencers on Instagram is when you can tell they’re promoting a product just for the money and they probably don’t even use it really! This was a great post and I completely agree with you!

    Jess // foundationsandfairytales.wordpress.com
    xx

  6. This was a really interesting post! As I am a very small blogger, I can get drawn into all these different whirlpools within the blogging/YouTube world but have to remember, it should be about my content and what I want to share with my readers.

    Ellyn xx | Life Of A Beauty Nerd

  7. I love this post and totally agree with you! It’s ridiclous for people to slate something that isn’t real life- so they have an issue with tv, movies, ads in general? No- they target individual influencers who are doing a job creatively and aren’t hurting anyone!

    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

  8. I know what you mean about this certain ‘ad’ recently, personally, I think it’s all been blown out of proportion. It’s clear that Instagram isn’t 100% real life and that images are staged and edited so why people have kicked up such a fuss about that one I don’t understand. It’s a job for people nowadays and a lot of people don’t understand how they can actually make money from it as it’s so new, they then must think they don’t put in much work and it’s ‘easy’ which omg omg is the total opposite! x

  9. This is one of the most honest posts I have seen recently regarding influencers. Not everyone aspires to be an influencer but I can guarantee that we all want to either be noticed as bloggers or congratulated on content. People should b educated on the unrealities of the internet and be told to just enjoy it for what it is & not complain if it is not “real” enough.

  10. Yeah I saw that Instagram post and it is so clearly staged which is okay. I blog, but I constantly find myself looking at my follower count, wondering if people genuinely like my content because thats what I should focus on, not whether or not I can score a brand deal. Th blogging world isn’t all pretty pictures and money, it’s hours of work to be able to share our thoughts and passion even if we don’t get thousands of reads

  11. This is a really great post, I was a bit swayed when I saw the post in question one the one hand your totally right and I also think people know that’s not what an average morning looks like and on the other I feel like it can make people feel less if they don’t have that muc or look like that! It’s hard but times are changing xx

  12. This is such a great post Sophie! I’ve seen a lot of ‘influencers’ and bloggers being criticised recently due to posting unrealistic photos. I personally don’t see the problem with it, everyone presents the best parts of their lives on instagram anyway. I don’t think staging photo’s are that different. The only thing I can’t stand is when people are blatantly promoting a product that isn’t relevant to their niche.

    Eve x | http://www.evemorganinteriors.com

  13. This is a great post Sophie! I comepltley agree with some of your points. Anything that I post, wether it’s on my blog Instagram or private Instagram is more or less staged, who’s really going to be caught on camera by accident holding an ice cream or walking across a road with a nice mural in the background!
    Love, Cally x
    http://www.lovecally.com

  14. I found this a super interesting read since there are parts that I agree with and parts where I don’t. I completely agree, firstly, that the term ‘influencer’ is ridiculous, but that is because I find it pretentious! I think the reason people are becoming alienated by these ‘aspirational’ bloggers is because it’s simply not how the blogging community started out. We wanted to see real people, ordinary people, just like us, create content. Content that we could relate to. The fact that it’s turned out so differently is no one’s fault. But I don’t think we should be surprised, or condemning of the fact that people are kind of fed up with it. I think one of the biggest tragedies of social media is that it has created a new level of ‘celebrity’. That’s not because I don’t want to see people successful, or making money, but because it’s a culture that simply does not help us. It continues to perpetuate unrealistic expectations, and whilst I agree that teens now are more aware of what’s real and fake on social media, we also have to be aware that it’s more subtle and harder to distinguish the truth from the fake. I.e., more and more influencers are getting cosmetic surgery, which is completely fine, but if it’s not disclosed, it subtly alters the goal posts, by further distorting what beauty is real and attainable. Social media has become such a weird world now, and I’m not too sure where I stand. I actually have a blog post on this same thing (and prompted by this weekend’s twitter debacle) coming this week, but what I can say is I’m glad we’re openly discussing the place of ‘aspiration’ blogging and the possible effects it could have! Thank you for such a thought provoking post (and sorry for such a long comment lol!)

  15. This is such an interesting post Sophie. You are so right saying that we do have control over who we watch/follow. I’m not really into Zoe and Alfie but I have a lot of respect for the massive following they have and what they have created. Like you say, building a social media following doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a lot of effort and hard work. Very well written post with good points. Thank you for sharing <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  16. This is a great post and I like that you shared your BTS of your instagram photos. It takes so much more work to take a “simple” photo and create content people find appealing. I just don’t understand why some people – not mentioning any names here – don’t are so spiteful of the work. I guess it goes along with the fact that they don’t want to believe that it is much more work ….

  17. Incredibly thoughtful post, and I agreed with what you said here. People that are in the audience of “influencers” always have so much to say & complain about when those that they follow don’t come up to par with what they want from them. I’m actually thinking of writing about the recent controversy from that morning routine insta post myself as I think it went far out of hand.

  18. Such a good post especially in light of the recent drama. I personally don’t follow many overly curated Instagram accounts, with the more “perfect” looking photos because quite honestly I don’t like them. But if that’s the case, just don’t follow those people, it should be simple? I appreciate the work some influencers put into these type of photos I sure as sh*t couldn’t do it and I totally understand that #ad’s are going to be “perfected”. Like does Nicole Scherzinger really eat yogurts on a cloud? Probably not xxx

  19. This is so interesting and so well written. Very true about everyone having influence! I never hate others content or if they do an ad, good for them and if it’s not a topic I like then I may avoid reading, but not out of hate!

  20. Just came to your blog through the latest post on http://www.justmorgs.com!
    I really enjoyed reading this as the same situation with the mouthwash photo has played on my mind ever since. I agree with everything you are saying and find it shocking that one person could receive that much backlash for posting the type of photos loads of influencers would create. I personally enjoy photos like that, they are a dreamy escape from reality – inspiration – and that’s all Instagram should be. Thanks for sharing!

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