Influencing with Purpose
By: DM Blunted
Everyone and their mother is an “influencer” nowadays, but what really is an influencer? Is it just someone with a large amount of social capital who is constantly pitching you sales or is it more than that? Because with over 40% of the world’s population now on social media, consuming brands and influencers content, good or bad, true or false - it’s important to start asking if influencers are using their power of influence responsibly.
It’s so common to hear of an influencer getting dragged and “canceled” for being shady with a brand, their products or with their own followers. It’s so common that within the last week, not one but two massively popular YouTubers (James Charles and Trisha Paytas) have been called out for two different problematic reasons. I’m not comparing why they’ve been called out, just pointing out that influencers don’t always have the best moral compass. Which is a problem.
Take the beauty industry’s influencer marketing for instance. Every makeup palette, lip gloss kit, and multi-vitamin is heavily pushed by large “beauty gurus,” who in return receive tens of thousands of dollars. Often times these influencers are told explicitly or implicitly that the brand they’re working for wants a positive review and only a positive review. This will obviously skew any influencers “honest opinion” on whatever they’re talking about to you. There are plenty of examples on Youtube of beauty gurus with a range of social capital that have made videos calling out this issue, with personal experience. The culture of vague honesty isn't only perpetrated by influencers but the brands as well.
So what’s an influencer to do, when you want to make money from your content but you want to do it responsibly? Well firstly, it starts by following the law. In April of 2017, the Federal Trade Commision sent out 90 letters to some of the most influential Instagram users reminding them to “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands.” With a 2017 study showing that 93% of the top celebrity Instagram ads aren’t properly disclosed. It’s important to draw a clear and distinct line of what is real and what is ad. We know social media ven diagrams what is a reality and what is a clout fantasy. If responsible influencing is the goal it’s your duty to help add to the reality.
That also includes being honest about what you’re promoting. If you don’t like a product you’ve been given don’t continue to make a raving post about it just to stay on that brands PR list. People are following influencers that seem like everyday people. Many see them post about their breakfast, their breakups and everything they’re smoking on, it feels like you know them and their friends and family - so why wouldn’t we trust in what they have to say about a product? Don’t get caught up promoting snake oil.
But that brings me to the most important part. Before you even get to promoting anything you should be doing a background check on the company you’re going to collaborate with. I know the excitement of a brand reaching out can make all the hard work and effort you’ve put into your platform feel validated but don’t rush into it. Take a moment to look into their business practices, their social media, who founded it and who works there. We are in the Age of Information, it’s so easy to be your own personal investigator. And if you find that what is being offered to you or the people behind the offer don’t sit well in your soul, it’s okay to say no. Not everything that is handed to us is meant for us, and it’s up to us to navigate that. To make sure that what we’re offering to our followers isn’t harmful.
Editors note: Much like the world of the Influencer, the world of CBD can feel veiled in unclear information. With so many companies claiming to carry “CBD” products made with Hemp Seed Oil, it can be hard to know who to trust. It starts by doing your own research. Don’t take our word for it, or your favorite writters word for it, dig in and do the research for yourself. Seek transparency from the companies you support. If they are legit, you will know, if they are smoke and mirrors you will figure it out fast. Stay vigilant!
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