False Assumptions about Social Media Influencers

In the year of our Lord two-thousand and seven, I went to Actor’s Model and Talent Convention, better known as AMTC, in Orlando, Florida.

That’s right, I was the kid whose parent’s signed them up at that infamous mall pop up booth, which appeared every spring. Was it a scam? The cards are still out on that one.

I do know that once there, my family and I met the owner of Halo, a modeling agency in Savannah, GA (very near my hometown).

Circa 2008, my 15 year old self was very much trying…

Circa 2008, my 15 year old self was very much trying…

Fast forward a couple months and I was full on working it at Halo, trying to be Tyra Banks. (You know how it is when America’s Next Top Model is on tiny flat screen TV in your room.. You naively think you’ve got what it takes to make it to the top.) It was a weird stage of my childhood, and as I think back on it I wonder how AMTC has survived in the wake of social media. Finding work in showbiz isn’t any easier to do now than it was then. But iPhones, YouTube and Instagram have altogether tremendously helped the chances of kids these days making it in entertainment.

When social media influencers came on the scene something in me knew they would begin to replace traditional modeling work. I remember seeing an influencer for the first time on an Anthropology ad on my sister’s phone in college. Her posture and her pose was friendly, but casual, even selfie-like. In my experience, this was not a professional model. All I could think was..what was this going to mean for models who had gone through formal training. At the time, this new form of model seemed to me to be unfit for the job. They were people who had probably never felt the unbelievable sense of shame from not meeting measurement requirements, like I had years ago. It seemed absurd to me that they were were appearing in online advertisements. I guess in a way even though I was done with modeling, that initial judgement in me toward social media influencers never left.

Years later when my friends started pursuing a professional aesthetic on their Instagram accounts, I really freaked. Not because they were invading the space of traditional models (by that time I very anti-modeling), but because they were more involved in their accounts than in their conversations with me. Soon, my negative assumptions about influencers became particularly rigid. It wasn’t until I joined Caffeine and began working with more influencers that my perspective finally began to changed. The more I learned about what it really takes to be an influencer, the more drastically my ideas about them shifted. Here’s a list of problems I once had with social media influencers v. the way I now view their role in digital marketing.

they’re self obsessed

When you have friends that are influencers/ good with social media, it feels like you’re loosing them to their self-obsession not to their hobby. It’s only when you start to view social media as their side job that you realize it’s their job to entertain and post. It’s not for no reason that influencers have to be confident and appearance-minded people.

If they seem a little into themselves from all the personal branding, there’s a reason for that. Cataloging the entertaining and adventurous parts of their personality, is for them an outlet and an art. They’re using their life, looks and adventures as the main story. They naturally want to look nice and/or be nice. Unless it’s a Mean Girls Teenage post-makeover Cady Heron situation, it’s already who they are! And even if Cady, the movie character was an influencer, she may have been more successful before the makeover and self-obsession. She probably would’ve been more successful as a young safari explorer chick. Also, there are a ton of influencers (post make-over) who don’t necessarily come across as self obsessed on screen.

Take Trey Kennedy. He’s a top influencer with two million followers. He’s very funny and has a massive following on his Instagram account. The thing is, he wears T-shirts, and it’s a part of his brand. Wearing t-shirts, he doesn’t come across as self-obsessed. He comes across as goofy.

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 3.03.35 PM.png

Sure, he uses a special light attachment on his phone in selfie-mode, but that doesn’t have to mean he’s obsessed about his looks. Maybe he does that because he’s passionate and wants his Instagram stories to more visually engaging. Maybe he wants to up his production game for his target audience, who is used to seeing professionally lit entertainers. Of course, this doesn’t mean Social Media Influencers should all wear t-shirts to come across humble. But it does say they aren’t all internally hyper-obsessed with themselves. In fact, I like to think of Trey’s t-shirt as the part of him that wants to not be self-obsessed. It’s as though so much of his life is based around him as the talent that if he could take some of the attention away in say, wearing a t-shirt, he’d do it. And it’s working. The guy gets promotional work all the time.

On a similar/separate note - Have you ever wondered to yourself, How much does an influencer cost? We have the answer to that question and more in a recent blog post. Read How Much Should You Pay a Social Media Influencer? to learn more.

Consumers trust their influencers immensely. Did you know that people rely on an influencer recommendation for products? Almost half (49%) of people involved in research conducted by Annalect and Twitter said this to be true. If you need help growing your brand identity and bringing awareness of your product to your target customer, finding an influencer in your niche on the right social platforms is essential. At Caffeine Marketing, we can help you do that.

They Have Millions of Followers

maddi-bazzocco-Vbt1zTCsSNA-unsplash (1).jpg

Influencers don’t all have to have millions of instagram followers to be successful and earn an income. In fact, they can have a follower count starting at about 1000 to get promotional work. Of course, they will still have to keep their day job, but earning a small bit of extra cash can be a reality for these micro-influencers. When they have fewer followers, micro influencers are relatable in a unique way: they can mimic the everyday customer. The outcome is that relatable influencer marketing will lead to more engagement and hopefully more sales. An influencer recommendation from a micro influencers will often achieve high higher engagement rates. That’s because they’re more likely to know the individuals that follow them, which is good for that word of mouth marketing strategy.

Micro-influencers are becoming increasing more popular as part of marketing campaigns and content marketing. While their rates are typically smaller, their impact is still massive. That’s why we at Caffeine mostly work with micro-influencers that can sponsor your product or service in a relatable way.

That said, Instagram influencers with millions of followers will definitely provide value. They’ll just be much more expensive (re: How Much Should You Pay a Social Media Influencer?)

Check out Neil Patel’s video on the topic of Influencer Marketing. He agrees that finding relevant influencers in your industry can be an added benefit to your marketing strategy. And they don’t have to break the bank.

Can’t pay an influencer as part of a paid content strategy? Here are 10 Tips for Organic Social Media Growth.

they lucked upon it

toa-heftiba-Kx8DDqb6Wbw-unsplash (1).jpg

Almost no one simply lucks into their dream job. Period. It does happen, but honestly, becoming an influencer is just like any other role in the entertainment industry. Social influencers that become successful have put in a lot of hard, consistent work. They’re constantly creating good content and great ig stories that people want to read or watch. You’re constantly thinking about your life in pictures, stories and video edits. It’s a lot of creating, writing and a lot of planning. It’s sacrificing time and money to get better and better content out there. Those videos and pics don’t just happen, y’all. If luck is a part of the equation, it’s a small part. Lots of influencers will tell you that it’s all about hours and hours of hard work and hustle.

Take it from actual influencers interviewed on manrepeller.com. A couple of the women interviewed mention that they were bloggers long before they were ever successful influencers. That means they created countless blog posts before ever achieving sponsored content levels of success. These are people that put time and effort into growing their brand and gaining a following so one day they might get paid to promote yours (in addition to their own).

[Want to learn more about adding hype to your product or service? Read Creating Hype Around a Launch.]

One example of a way you can partner with influencers is through give-aways. A giveaway can help you create brand awareness, authentic engagement, gain new followers, and much more. The benefit of an influencer gives-away is they promote your product or service in repayment for the followers they receive by promoting your brand. Influencers are likely to work with you if your company already has the type or followers, product or service that would benefit their brand as well. That’s because their followers are likely to follow you and maybe even buy from you (and vice versa) once they’ve posted the give away item. It’s an easy way for both of you to win in marketing.

Early on I had this other major realization that changed this specific assumption in a massive way.. Influencers are not the “lucky, beautiful few”. They are business people. We have a client that we often do influencer marketing for. Upon DM’ing a recent potential influencer with related content to our clients site, she told us she would not work with us unless she was also able to receive enough of the product she would gain as payment for her family to use. This wasn’t someone who was eager to get her first influencer role. Her instagram posts were decent and getting engagement. She didn’t necessarily need the attention the role would bring. She was seasoned enough to be picky and potentially loose the job in order to actually negotiate for more. That was really striking to me. It was the first time I actually saw influencers as shrewd and savvy business people who worked hard to reach their career goals.

they don’t have any other hobbies

We all have a friends who have big social media followings. From the outside they seem to only post post post all the time - no stopping, no going, just posting. And I viewed that as a purely unhealthy and bad thing. Then, one day I wondered, What the heck do I do to contribute to the world?

Even if SoMe is the only thing an influencer does for work (or my friends do for fun), what the heck is wrong with that?

Why can’t SoMe be a person’s side gig or main hobby. Most of us don’t have hobbies at all let alone ones where we contribute entertaining or instructional content to the world.

I watch their content, like it and respond, and then I judge them for posting all the time. AHH My judgement of them is a me problem. Not a them problem.

In addition, it might seem like running their social media accounts like a business would be shallow, but like anything else it’s all about the heart and the motivation. One person might be able to be an influencer and make money and not become self-obsessed. One might not. It depends on the person. I don’t have rights to judging people’s very motivation. What people do with their free time is their own decision - not mine. Of course like anything else there’s a balance that comes into play.

@Kevonstage is a comedian and influencer on Instagram and he posts jokes and lifestyle videos pretty consistently. It makes me think about how the rest of his life is impacted. Does he have other hobbies? Is he a healthy, well-rounded person? And then as if on perfect timing he posts a video of himself at the gym, and I think thank goodness he takes care of himself.

I know it’s a small thing, but when influencers write or post about their other hobbies, I get the solace that the voice I listen too actually has other things in their life. The main point is I want to follow people that are well-rounded in their life and in their work. And when an influencer has that it makes me feel better for contributing (as the audience) to their very livelihood.

I have learned that the moments in their lives that are pictured are similar to mine - they’re just public. And that’s okay just as long as they’re achieving healthy human status. Honestly, there are definitely accounts you should avoid; there’s a lot a negativity out there. At the end of the day consumption preference depends on the person. I just definitely prefer to follow positive people.

they’re perfect and have it all together aka they’re not real people

humphrey-muleba-Qyryr8O_3Wg-unsplash (1).jpg

This one goes without saying, but it’s always good to read: no one is perfect. You see these guys and gals, sporting their products and sharing their insights, creating laughs and memorable moments. They seem like they have it all together, but that’s just moments in their life - moments for which they’re getting paid. They’re working. Yes, they’re being themselves, but they’re also being the best, most pristine version of themselves. That’s the job. They don’t have it all together. None of us do.

In fact, now that I’ve crossed over to being pro-social influencer as a job, I’ve realized that, influencers are more relatable than celebrity endorsements. And I’m not alone. One study found YouTube influencers specifically to be more influential than traditional celebrities. The study claims that “because YouTube creators foster strong ties with fans, they have a more engaged audience.” It says that YT “creators earn more views, more actions and more comments than videos owned by traditional celebrities”. And that’s just YouTube.

Landing the Plane

Whether you have assumptions about influencers or not, I hope you can learn from this blog post. Discerning between what is true and false is really important when going about your marketing campaign. So let me say this once and for all, successful influencers can help your marketing campaigns in incredible ways. They aren’t the self-obsessed, shallow people you think they might be. They work hard and deserve all the success they’ve come to enjoy. Lots of influencers work hours and hours before being a top influencer as a full time job. They’re social media followings paired with your sponsored posts really can provide a higher level of brand awareness and engagement on your preferred social media platforms. The opportunities here are endless when you know the reality of what successful influencers do for a living.

Imagine what an authentic voice with thousands of followers could do for your business. Now, imagine having someone else (our digital marketing agency) identify social media influencers - the right one(s) who will speak directly to the relevant audiences for your brand. We hope that hypothetical idea takes you to a stress free place.

Like with marketing, we think finding the right social media influencer to support your brand should be simple. If you want to do learn more about how influencer campaigns and social media marketing can win your target customer, click the button below.

To find free marketing tips for your business, head back to our blog page.

Tanna Bagwell
Intern, Social Media Marketing

PS: This blog was inspired by my sister @shanland3. At first I didn’t get her hobby, but now I do.

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 7.04.19 PM.png