So, you want to be an influencer? I’ll be honest, I have been delaying this post for a while now and for obvious reasons: most people don’t feel comfortable talking about this but I still feel like some things need to be said. I receive a ton of messages from start-up pages asking for advice. So, this one is for you, the new-comer or aspiring social media enthusiast, I hope you might find this of some benefit.
Social influence on the internet and beyond
An influencer is a broad and loaded term. And a scary one if I’m honest. It comes loaded with responsibility and needs true passion for the field you have selected. You are in the position where people consider your opinions on specific matters – from something as trivial as one perfume scent over the other, all the way to something as substantial as making life altering decisions.
I know the influencer label has become a trending buzzword among Youtubers, podcasters, bloggers and even fashion marketeers.
What frequently goes unsaid and how I interpret this term myself is, as an implied contract; where both parties must understand the legal, and more importantly, the moral implications of their actions. Which is why I don’t associate with brands that I don’t personally believe in, because at the end of the day, with all that prestige, power, fame and wealth, also comes a humbling dose of obligation and responsibility.
My influencer journey. Planned, happenstance, or just luck?
Here’s a little background on me and how I found myself on the path to where I am today. I first started blogging in 2014, right after finishing my Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. At the time I was juggling work as a lecturer at a Dubai-based university and completing and supervising some research projects. Me and my best friend were discussing beauty products and perfumes one day and she suggested that I start a page where I store an archive of things I liked.
I never dreamed that my page would grow to the point it is at today, that a small square picture of some perfumes would slowly plunge me into world that I was pretty much unaware of (for the most part), especially since I came from an academic background.
The journey was fun! I learned, experimented, and slowly grew my foothold into this strange new world. And a world it is!
PR and blogger outreach
The exclusivity of media events, influencer ranking system, which I later found out includes mega-influencers, macro-, micro- and even nano-ones. These are terms that I had only heard of, or referred to, in my pharmacy calculations.
Turns out, you are graded by the ‘3Rs of influencers: reach, resonance and relevance’. My PR friends would probably know best, but I’m assuming there’s a lot of paperwork that runs in the background and notes being diligently taken in their diaries. Oh, that reminds me, if you’re new to the events, its always easy to spot them.
They’re always the ones trying to run things smoothly in the background while making sure the limelight stays off them and on the brand. Probably even carrying a notebook and a phone in their hand, running back and forth in the venue, and always, always carrying some bags. It’s not an easy responsibility to undertake and requires a special type of resilience and dedication to overcome the challenges that might arise.
During the lockdown period, Natasha Hatherall-Shawe, the founder and CEO of Tish Tash, journaled her own quarantine challenges during the covid-19 pandemic. Her online journal was an eye-opener and her narrative was something I genuinely enjoyed reading and following during the grim lockdown season. Covid aside, she also frequently shares marketing, PR tips and her spin on the common mistakes that new bloggers make, so it’s something I recommend for light reading if you have the time.
And she is just one among the many, many inspiring figures out there, so I can’t say this enough to all my PR friends: thank you for all that you do, really.
What you’re seeing is really just the tip of the iceberg
Over the last few years I’ve had my fair share of comedic experiences (coming to an event on the wrong day because of an oversight in a hectic week was probably the most embarrassing!). But what is frequently overlooked is the sheer amount of time and work that goes on behind the scenes.
Behind every long post I make here on this page, there are usually over 8-9 hours of planning, photography, design, editing, research, social media posts, answering questions etc.
But what amazes me that despite doing this for six years, I still learn something new every day. So, if you’re just starting out, don’t despair. Take it one day at a time and remember that your social media presence never takes precedence over you as a person. If you find it stressful, it may be time to take a short break. The internet will still be here when you get back, I promise.
But remember that in this ever-evolving ecosystem of celebrity, competition and race for content creation, some of us might find ourselves lost in the blur— the glitz and glamour might make you forget why you started this in the first place.
Try to remember that people are reading your posts and what you say, do, or encourage has real-life consequences. Goodies are great, but consider them as a labor of love, and not the driving force of your passion.
Do birds of a feather flock together?
In today’s chaotic media landscape where digital creators are competing with one another, media endorsements are popping up like money plants across all social media platforms. Unfortunately, we are now fast moving towards a phase where we see influencers pitted against each other, being forced into groups that is becoming a harsh ecosystem for talent to grow.
There’s a slowly simmering undercurrent of uncertainty and confusion amongst us, which might in turn make us drift further from the subjects that should’ve come first, the audience.
What should have been a fun, learning and engaging atmosphere has regretfully been reduced down to numbers, clicks and engagements.
That is not to say I don’t have good friends in the blogosphere, because I do. I have met some wonderful people through this platform, people that I will always fondly remember. Thank you for your support and encouragements. Seeing your name in my page always makes me smile.
Find your niche: follow your dreams
Sometimes all we need is a support system to help you tap into your “focus niche”, and discover friends along the path who share the same passion and interests. What we need is an influencer union, or much rather, an influencer wellness group in this region.
We need to grow together and grow stronger. If you ever need to talk, my DMs are open. I’d love to get to know you as a person, not just an Instagram handle.
So, hey beautiful. Just pause. Ask yourself, before you click that perfectly angled photograph for your next endorsement, does this product even work?
Would I buy this? It’s okay to change your mind, just remember to keep your reviews informative, real and personal. That is the person your followers love: you. So just be you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to share your comments below and let me know if you found this useful in any way.