“Social Media Influencer” is such a fancy title. Well, at least that’s how it presented itself to me in early 2017 when I was trying to grow my follower count. I noticed that some “Instagram bloggers”, as they preferred to be called, were using the hashtag “#influencer” next to their captions of envy-inducing, highly-curated photos. I figured out, after following a series of popular IG handles, that it was this particular hashtag that helped them gain likes and followers on the social media app.
I know zip about Instagram algorithm nor do I have any desire to learn more about it; but as soon as the first photo I tagged with “#influencer” was up, my notifications almost crashed with an onslaught of more than a hundred likes and new “follows”. That began my journey to socmed obsession of chasing crowd approval. Not that I was intent on competing with others in terms of follower count, but more of seeing how far my “influence” could go in this jungle of a cyberspace.
After just six months, though, I began to get tired of the routine; of having to wrack my brain for appropriate captions to keep up with the reputation I had built, as well as planning shoots for my “OOTD posts”. It did get me plenty of opportunities to become an ambassador for a few local and international brands, but I became listless and soon enough, I would just upload random stuff without any expectations of getting attention. Little by little, my active followers silently detached themselves from my fanbase and my “likes” slowly diminished.
In turn, this experience has given me several lessons to be learned:
- If anyone can claim to be an influencer, there’s no real influencer. It’s true that it’ll make you feel like a rockstar, but this feeling won’t last. You’ll be bugged by thoughts of keeping the follower count stable and coming up with really good content on a daily basis; that to me sounds like a lot of work for someone who takes pride of their popularity. Although I know some people who are doing a great job in content creation, I can’t say the same for the rest who have volunteered as individuals with an extensive reach. I have found some of them to be reputable; otherwise, brands wouldn’t try contacting them.
- A follower count doesn’t always equate to conversion. If you’ll see my recent posts, you’ll probably wonder why out of the 6K+ followers I had gained, only 50 or 60 of them actually showed support for my posts. The fact of the matter is: most of my followers are just dummy accounts while some include influencers who are there to keep the unwritten rule of mutuality.
- It has become a trend to use too many tags that don’t even come close to the concept of a particular post. In my case, they’re just there to make my photos appear fanciful or relevant. However, if I’m being honest, I actually used them as a trap. Whenever you type a specific hashtag in the Explore search box, you’ll see one of the many posts I’ve intentionally incorrectly labelled with the said tag. And if you’re like me, who organically grew a following by voluntarily returning the favor a.k.a. “follow backs” and “like backs” at random, you’ll end up double-tapping my post. See the magic? That’s how I went about luring brands into taking me in as their brand ambassador. I received plenty of invites, and I had a wonderful time working with some of these brands. However, everything has an end. After realizing that what I do no longer makes any sense, I threw in the towel and went back to writing essays.
- Not everyone has the potential to influence you into doing what you want them to do unless you mean what you say. This holds especially true for products being sent to you in exchange for an “honest review”. You can’t expect people to believe in you all the time, especially if you’re consistent with your words. Reviewers who hoard items and rave about each and every one of these products often end up being ineffective in promoting each brand that reaches out to them. Faking your opinion of the brand isn’t hard to do, right? It’s like kissing their asses for favors. Know that for every rave review you give, there are a couple of followers who will begin to doubt your credibility. All because you said that every product that was sent to you works like magic. Netizens aren’t as gullible as you may think. It’s 2019. Do you really think you can convince your followers when most products being sent to you are actually competitors of each other?
I would like to conclude with a call to other “fake influencers” like me. Ponder this quote that’s been making round in the IG community: “Being famous on socmed is like being rich in a Monopoly game—it’s not real.”