HOW I WANT THINGS TO CHANGE ON INSTAGRAM IN 2019
Is it just me.. or does it always feel like there’s a big elephant in the room whenever someone drops the word ‘blogger’ or ‘influencer’?
For me, there always is, which is irritating when it’s your full time job that you absolutely love, but the industry is still new and is having some serious growing pains.. and all you can really do is write a blog post about it.
So, here we are! I want to bring up some topics related to influencer marketing that either have some major misconceptions around them or really just need a big, ol’ shake up so that they continue to have purpose.
When reflecting on my first year of working as a self employed blogger, there was a lot about the way people do things in New Zealand that just didn’t sit right with me, or that I knew a lot of Instagram users were getting really sick of (myself included). I think there is a lot that isn’t being spoken about enough, a lot that needs to change and a lot that needs to be understood better.
PR SEND OUTS
So let’s start with WHY bloggers and influencers are sent ‘free shit’ and do ‘PR unboxings’ all the time. Basically brands have been doing this waaaay before the social media influencer was even born. They would send product out to celebrities and magazines to test and try with the hope that they would say something positive about the brand/product and could get some free exposure out of the celeb/mag without having to pay them.
Now they also do it with the influencer, hense the amount of PR unboxings you see on peoples stories! I might also add that if the influencer is on a PR list and is sent a product without agreeing to post in exchange for the product, they are under NO obligation to post about it or give it a positive review. 99% of the time the influencer has no idea that the product is being sent to them, and will just pop it on their Instagram story as a thank you to the brand and to show their audience a new brand or product that is new to the market.
Now there seems to be bit of a divide when it comes to PR unboxings, some people love staying on top of new product releases and then some people couldn’t give a crap and would prefer the influencer to test the product off camera and then come back onto their Instagram story once they have a review to share.
So here’s how I’m going to (hopefully) keep both types of people happy.
This year I want to still show you new products that I love and are new to the market so you can be aware of them, BUT I won’t be showing absolutely everything I get sent anymore. The amount of PR send outs that can often arrive daily would mean my entire Instagram story would just be constant PR unboxings, which is probably boring even for those who love a PR unboxing.
That being said, sometimes a WOW delivery will arrive and I can’t help but unbox it to share with you guys, so I will continue showing you highlights as they arrive and then come back to you once I have used the product to give you my review later on.
With beauty, I’ll be showing you beauty product applied more often to give instant, first impression reviews and probably talking about it a lot more in depth on my YouTube channel. With fashion, I’ll be styling more clothing and showing you things worn rather than just filming a piece of clothing that hangs off my bed. Basically I just want to demo more for you because it’s much more interesting and real content for you to watch and consume!
THE INFLUENCER REPUTATION
I think a huge issue that people have with the ‘blogger’ or the ‘social influencer’ is that a lot of people are in it for the wrong reasons, which taints the intentions of people who are in it for the right reasons.
Yes there are people out there who only care about numbers to soothe their ego, who just want the money or the free product, but remember there are still so many awesome creators out there who do this to connect, as a creative outlet, because they have a true passion for beauty, fashion, fitness etc who want to do this because they absolutely love it. I started blogging 4 years ago because I went through a difficult break up and I wanted to connect with others, I spent the wake of that breakup obsessing over YouTube to feel less lonely, to learn how to improve my makeup skills and learn about skincare because naturally my skin had turned to absolute crap during that breakup period.
I learnt so much in that time and needed a creative outlet because I was in the middle of a really academic degree at university and wanted to share all of this knowledge with others, so I started the blog and four years later I have the exact same intention when creating all of my content.
There will always be people who make you cringe online, but there will also be people who inspire you, who’s images you love, who’s writing you connect with that doesn’t deserve the negative connotation that so often comes with the word ‘influencer’.
(Sponsored content is content that has been created in exchange for money.)
Being a full time blogger is an absolute dream come true, but I couldn’t do that without creating sponsored content. There is SUCH a stigma around sponsored content which I think is really unfair for those who are just as genuine about their sponsored content as they are with their normal ‘a day at the beach with my friends’ content. People seem to automatically think that just because a promoted product is sponsored, it means the blogger or influencer is only promoting it for the money and not because they actually like it. Before I say yes to any sponsored content I always ask to test out the product before I lock myself in, so that I have the opportunity to say yes or no to the sponsorship.
Now this might be kind of controversial or piss some people off but I’m going to be completely real with you guys.
The honest, authentic, successful influencers will not take on sponsored content JUST for the money because there is plenty of money going around in this industry, I don’t think it’s any secret that influencers are capable of making very good money from what you can see on social media, and so they should, they work hard to create a loyal following who trusts their reviews and recommendations and deserve to be paid by the brand to have access to this loyal following for marketing purposes, it’s the same way that magazines work. A lot of people can afford to say no to 60-80% of the opportunities they are given because that other percentage pays so well. Never assume that everyone is just super desperate for the money and say yes to every sponsored opportunity that they are given! Some people will, but it will be obvious and you will be able to tell. The good egg’s are fine with just getting the bills paid and prioritising honest sponsored work with products & brands that they genuinely love.
Right from the minute I started this blog my intention has been to share things I truly love with you guys that I have fairly tested, so you never have to worry about product sponsorships. I can’t speak for everyone, but because this is my full time career it would actually be destructive for me to not be 100% authentic with my reviews and recommendations! My word is always tried and true and it always will be.
Yes I am often paid to promote product from certain brands, no I will not say yes to payment if the brand or the product isn’t something I would use if I wasn’t being paid.
If the content is sponsored, I will use the hashtag #SP (sponsored post) at the end of the caption or on the first clip of the Instagram story. If I haven’t used that hashtag, it has either been gifted or I have bought it myself! I also often try to mention whether I have bought it myself or not but I think what you really need to know is whether I have been paid.
HOW I WANT TO SEE CHANGE
What I would love to see more from this year (including from myself) is New Zealand influencers not being afraid to discuss their negative reviews. I’ll be honest, I have never said I liked a product that was shit or mediocre, buuut I have had the tendency to banish a product that didn’t work for me, throw it in the bin and just never speak about it again because I didn’t want to upset the brand.
This is more so something directed to influencers but I think it’s good to think about it this way: brands actually get more from an influencer who will fairly discuss products they like and dislike due to the credibility it creates. If someone talks about one product from one brand and says it didn’t work for them for which ever reason, then talks about another product from the same brand and says that they really like it, that positive review is going to resonate so much more with the consumer and from a marketing perspective, much more likely to turn into actual sales because the influencers opinion is much more trusted.
Now you don’t have to be nasty about a product to give it a negative review, for example if you’re obsessed with glowwy, light coverage foundation and you’re sent a full coverage matte foundation, you can simply say that you personally don’t get on with the matte foundation because you love glowwy foundations and that those who love full coverage & matte might really love it and should give it a go. If a face mask made you react or break out it could be because you have really sensitive skin, but for someone else that particular formula might work really well to exfoliate and give their skin a glow. Just because you give a negative review doesn’t mean it needs to be savage! Just be honest and polite.
New Zealand is SO small, and I’ve noticed that influencers will do everything to keep a brand happy, but I actually think if this industry is going to continue to grow we have to put our honest reviews first before keeping anyone ‘happy’. If a brand wants to be on a high horse and doesn’t want to work with you because you said a product of theirs didn’t work out for you for which ever reason, then they don’t deserve to work with you and they can go and manipulate someone else, don’t let that someone be you.
LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS OF INSTAGRAM
I also believe there needs to be a change in how we all manage our expectations of Instagram.
Yes it has the power to make us self compare and feel less than the portrayed ‘perfection’ we see on the app, BUT I believe with a shift in attitude we can learn to scroll without automatically comparing our lives and feeling like shit afterwards. We all know Instagram is just a highlights reel, so we have to put that into the front of our minds while we’re scrolling, it’s like wearing a safety belt as soon as you get into the car. Learn to create a permanent positive scrolling mindset where you are conscious about the fact that you are looking at the best parts of the lives of the accounts you follow, and never allow yourself to compare your worst day with their best photo.
The best accounts often discuss their struggles anyway so make sure if you are prone to comparing yourself with perfectly portrayed accounts and feeling like shit for it, follow accounts who like to discuss the negatives of their lives just as much as the positives because there are definitely a lot of people who do!
Get familiar with the unfollow button! I definitely need to continue unfollowing any accounts that don’t ~spark joy~ or that I feel aren’t authentic or genuine. I continue following travel, art and news accounts so that when I’m scrolling I’m learning, being inspired and getting informed rather than only being smacked in the face with imagery that either makes me feel like shit or doesn’t resonate with me.
I truly believe that the app doesn’t have to be this fake place that sucks away your happiness and forces you to constantly compare yourself to others. I think that following the right accounts is the key to a positive every-day scrolling experience where if you did find yourself scrolling for half an hour, you are walking away feeling inspired and happy and not feeling like you aren’t good enough.
You are good enough, but remember it’s only you who can remind yourself of your worth.