Are Influencers Loosing Their Influence?

The definition of “influencer” has become more and more convoluted as time goes on. Even now, everyday people are really starting to question the validity of the influencers they already follow. With Instagram taking steps to eliminate likes we are starting to see a decline in the actual influence your favorite bloggers have over their followers. We are all familiar with the infamous Instagram algorithm and the outcry from its most active users feeling marginalized by the platform. Yes, the algorithm blows, but is it the main cause of the ever-decreasing number of likes we see on these accounts? Hmmm, maybe not. With influencers being required to put #ad, #paid, and #gifted on posts promoting products in which they didn’t purchase themselves, people are starting to shy away from engaging with these types of posts. A recent study shows (InfluencerDB Link) that the engagement rate for sponsored content dropped to 2.4% in 2019 from 4% just a couple years back, while the rate for non-sponsored content jumped 1.9% to 4.5% during the same period. InfluencerDB thinks that this crazy decline is due to the fact that people are being pounded by sponsored content, and genuinely don’t care. So what are people actually looking for?

As big influencers lose their effectiveness it seems that the micro-influencers (1,000-5000 followers) are still holding strong. People are drawn to the authenticity of these people as they appear to be “just like us”. They are creating what appears to be authentic content that they actively use that we can all resonate with. They don’t come off as someone who is just “in it for the money” and they genuinely care about what they promote and who they are promoting it to. But don’t get it twisted. The industry is full of social climbers and clout chasers and that alone has played a big roll in whether or not you can take an influencer seriously or not. In a recent article published by HYPEBEAST they break down who and what people are actually influenced by. And not surprisingly 40% of users look to celebrities, more importantly, musicians. This is also due to the fact that the social media landscape is VERY over saturated with bloggers theoretically growing on trees. It seems that every day some kid pops up with 20K followers talking about their new favorite tea brand. So it makes sense that people look to someone they already look up to. But when it comes down to it people are just tired of being to what to do. 

It just seems that in today’s internet climate people love to hate influencers and the receipts are there. They are quick to call out their new favorite shampoo or artisan sneaker but when it comes to global issues I.e. climate change, black lives matter, and political injustice they seem to stay quiet. The argument can be made that not all of these issues align with the brands that these influencers have cultivated. And that’s okay, to an extent. But again this is where a lot of us “regular” social media users question the validity of the people we have looked up to who have a voice. 

All in all no one really “hates” influencers and influencers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So if you’re an influencer or looking to become one because you’re starting to get a following and think you have something to say just remember to come from a place of authenticity. Be transparent, promote products and causes that align with who you are and what you stand for morally, and stop shoving ads in peoples faces. There is a reason everyone switched from cable to Netflix. 

Hard Work Really Does Pay Off

Probably the most common cliche in the professional world is “hard work pays off”. And it wouldn’t be a cliche unless there was at least some truth behind it. The latest adaptation of this mantra that has probably made its way across your twitter feed is “turn your passion into profit”. 

While being a cliche unlike its counterpart I don’t feel like there is a lot of truth behind it. We are constantly bombarded by a plethora of “self-made” entrepreneurs tweeting like fortune cookies talking about the successes of following their dreams. Leaving us star-struck by their magnificence urging us to leave behind our 9–5 to pick up a hobby to emulate the idea of “never working a day in our lives”. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I will never tell someone to stop following their dreams as we are all entitled to seek happiness no matter what shape it comes…..but you should be self-aware enough to know that something may not be for you. And that’s okay. So maybe instead of chasing a dream, you chase your curiosity. Here is where the difference of the two mantras comes into play.

Speaking from experience I had a very hard time trying to turn my passion into a profit. As a jazz musician straight out of school I was hit with the harsh realization that no one gives a fuck about a 22-year-old jazz musician from the Pacific Northwest. 

Thinking back to being in school there were so many red flags that I chose to ignore simply because I was under the impression that I was doing what I was meant to do. During this period I remember struggling with the drive to continue to play music. I was constantly searching for motivation, thinking to myself that this was no longer for me, and facing the inevitable pressure of trying to find a job and make a living. 

Instagram was fairly new at the time and I started to get interested in photography. Fast forward a year I am graduating and I have roughly $120 to my name. That summer I took my $120 in spare change to the nearest electronics store and bought my first camera. I immediately drove to the coast and started taking pictures of anything and everything I could see. I didn’t care that the images sucked, I was finally creatively free. I was choosing to chase my curiosity and explore new mediums of self-expression that would eventually develop into a passion. Not following my “dreams” was the smartest decision I’ve ever made.

We should never tell anyone to deprive themselves of their dreams, as we are all entitled to be happy and have a “purpose”. But more often than not people fall into the idea of “if I follow my dreams I will never work a day in my life” and that is so wrong. There is a huge difference between following your dreams/passions and developing them. If you are feeling stuck and unsure of your path let go of the idea of what your passion is or was and stop pursuing things that your past self thought would make you happy. Instead of chasing your “dreams” try chasing your curiosity. You’ll be surprised at what you might discover.

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