Mixed feelings about influencers


At what point does someone become an “influencer”?

We all have influence, but when does that become who you are?

I have mixed feelings about the social media influencer culture.

I’ve been influenced, for sure, but not always by people paid to do so – sometimes people are just sharing the fact that they really, really like a thing.

When my Instagram and Facebook feeds are flooded with a particular product, it mostly just annoys me and makes me not want to buy it. Off to the op shop I go, sticking a big middle finger to consumerism, for sure.

Active wear is an influencer’s bread and butter. There is so much active wear being promoted on social media, but where does active wear go when it dies? How much active wear do we really need? Why is it so hard to find it in my cake-loving ass’ size? And is it OK to buy active wear from the op shop? I think so. Just don’t buy your undies from the op shop – well, that’s my rule anyway, but you do you.

I’ve been following the accounts of a few influencers lately, and also what one might call the “anti-influencers”, most of whom are reformed influencers, but still seem to fit into that influencer model, which is quite peculiar.

Mostly, I don’t really care what the influencers do. Sometimes it’s entertaining when the anti-influencers and the influencers are having it out, and even more amusing when they are both “selling” the same products. Awkward.

If someone offered me a bunch of free stuff, I wonder if I would sell my soul to the influencer gods. I hope not, but until you are in such a position, how can you really know? Maybe if it’s really, really good free stuff, like a cool mountain bike or some rad new roller skates (I’m open to offers) . . .

Will influencers be invited to careers days at schools? I wanted to be a vet growing up, but perhaps being an influencer would’ve been a more realistic goal. You wouldn’t need a degree for that.

Speaking of unrealistic goals, a lot of influencers create an image of the perfect home, perfect life, and even the perfect dog – and they even have weekly checklists to make sure you are, in fact, perfect enough. Yuck!

Social media is a wonderful tool to connect with customers, there is no doubt. But I’m often torn. When you buy what an influencer is promoting, are you supporting an industry of pure unadulterated consumerism? Find the middle ground, support the online accounts you actually like and support the products that are New Zealand-made or at least go through New Zealand companies.

Macro- and micro-influencers are a thing; even if you have a small number of followers you can become an influencer. Knock yourself out, get into it. But will you be authentic and only support products and businesses you believe in? Or will you give anything a go for a freebie and the commission from a discount code, complete with the self-made image of unattainable perfection?

There’s a well-known New Zealand influencer being investigated by the Commerce Commission relating to claims about donations to charity, from sales of gifted products. The slightly more interesting (or un-interesting) fact is that they allegedly sell the active wear that they have gone commando in. This brings me back to buying undies from the op shop. If someone goes commando in their active wear, do you really want to be buying that second-hand? That is a strange thing to know about a person you have never met, but welcome to the world of social media.

Also, if you are selling off the products you were gifted by your favourite brands, that can’t be a good look for those brands. If you actually loved the product, wouldn’t you use it to the extent of its capabilities?

Once you have sold all of the active wear, what do you do next as an influencer? Write a book? Bring out a line of dog clothing? The world appears to be your oyster – and you can probably get your own discount code for those oysters! Oh what a world we live in.

And when did influencer opinion become a reliable source of information? That’s a yarn for another day.

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