The rise of influencers. Are online influencers good role models?

9 May 2018

Hyprbrands.com define an influencer as;


'an individual or sometimes small groups of people that exert an influence over a certain group of people through their online presence...to promote a brand'

There's no denying the benefits influencers have on businesses. By 2019, a projected $2.4 billion is set to be attributable to the global influencer market. Due to their active engagement with consumers, influencers can create great brand equity, reducing the need for companies to go through the trouble of building their own fan base and campaigning from scratch.

To give credit where credit is due, influencers have been doing a great job at promoting various products, brands and lifestyles to millions of consumers. However over the recent months, online influencers have come under a lot of criticism. From the Logan Paul scandal where the YouTuber controversy uploaded a vlog of his encounter with a victim of suicide in a Japanese forest, to online influencers being seen as greedy and undeserving in the light of published emails from a certain blogger asking a hotel to review their services in exchange for a free stay.

Okay - so just because our favourite influencer showcases an item from a retailer such as; Tobi or MAC and we choose to buy it - does this mean we should class them as a good role models and encourage children to want to be 'Youtubers' and 'Influencers' when they grow up?




 



For some, the term blogger/online influencer is associated with super narcissistic, superficial individuals selling teeth whitening strips on Instagram, promoting protein powders or coming from a reality TV background. And yes, there are the odd few cases when you see these 'influencers' and think 'What is the Internet coming to?'

However, the term influencer defies this and means so much more. Let's use Victoria Magrath as an example, formerly known as Inthefrow. This woman is a powerhouse. Victoria is an award-winning fashion, travel and beauty writer, former University lecturer,  ambassador for L’Or√©al Paris, recently launched her own bag collection with Strathberry and has worked with a host of brands including Ted Baker, Dyson Hair, HP, Google, Olympus and Selfridges. She has a PhD from one of the best universities in the country a.k.a. The University of Manchester and most importantly is a lovely, humble person. Victoria is the perfect role model to young girls and woman across the globe.

And she is just one of the inspirational bloggers/influencers (or whatever you want to call them) out there. Patricia Bright, Lydia Millen, Emily Canham, Grace Beverley (GraceFitUK), Kristabel Plummer, Samantha Maria and Gracie Francesca are all great role models for different reasons. What they share is a smart, business minded mentality, with an incredible work ethic. Each of these women are needed in today's society to aspire young girls and boys to set goals, work hard and achieve their dreams. With these influencers, there is so much more than mere fashion and gaining a few $$$ on affiliate links. It's so inspiring to see bloggers and influencers who are using their voices and platforms to share messages of positivity & empowerment, whilst raising awareness on a range of taboo topics from mental health to sexuality.




I'd hate to be a party pooper but as an observer to the rise of influencers, there are a few things that are particularly worrying...
  • The aspirational aspect of influencing and even blogging is sometimes lost behind the obsession with the number of followers you have and this being your 'digital currency'. Like most things, there can be heavily commercialised and 'money driven' intentions behind blogging and social media influencing, rather than creators being passionate about the brand or building an authentic connection within their following.
  • It's easy to forget social media influencers have followers as young as 7/8 years old. Whilst a large part of the setting a good example is down to the immediate family and friends, the rise of social media personalities also play a role. Creating content can be a great outlet for individuals. However, having noticed a few influencers drop out of university or education to pursue content creating full time. This obviously depends on the person and a lot of other things but we have to question if this is the message we really want to pass onto future generations? Social media is a public space and thus requires influencers to think carefully about their audience, the kind of products they endorse and the lifestyle they choose to display.
  • Idealisation is another danger. There needs to be some understanding that being an influencer doesn't require you to have the latest Gucci item, or eat at restaurants where the food is perfectly positioned or jet off to Paris 3 times a month. This is not the reality for most. What's great is when bloggers and influencers use their platform to talk about what is going on in the world and outside their highly aspirational lives instead of just focusing on the new pair of shoes they bought last week. 


                                                       

Don't get me wrong, there are a number of great content creators that absolutely have the right to be classed as role models. But, there is still a long way to go to show that mainstream blogging or 'influencing' is so much more than Gucci belts and Quay Australia sunglasses. There is a need for strong mainstream online influencers within the political, educational, sports and the social spheres. But it is also wrong to give all influencers flack when most are genuinely passionate about their chosen areas, focused and hard working, deeming them great 21st century role models.

Outfit details

Dina Ruffle Top - Tobi
Desiree Slit Mini Skirt - Tobi
Black Fluffy Bag - Very (Similar) 
Watch - Accurist 


Mx

NB: This post was a collaboration with Tobi. However all opinions are honest and my own.

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