What's our job as Influencers?

Instagram Influence.jpg

What even is influence?

This is a question I have been pondering a lot lately. I never really wanted or intended to be an influencer; I’m not a massive fan of the word or often what is associated with it.

Also, when I think about influence I start getting caught up in numbers and account growth and find myself wanting to curl up in a ball on the bed because my last pictures didn’t get a great engagement rate, and that is no way to be. When I feel this tension in me I tend to just sit back and watch and ask myself questions.

Whose accounts are growing and what are they doing?

Who has a good engagement rate?

What do I like to engage with on Instagram?

And then the biggest one…

What really is influence?

When I look the accounts I see that are growing, they tend to produce content that all looks similar, do giveaways and get great engagement. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t the way I choose to operate. And is a great engagement rate the only way to judge a successful post or is it the conversations that your posts start?

Is influence producing a great picture for a brand that’s witty, comical, beautiful and countless other things that gets eyeballs, or is it starting real conversations that get people thinking about that brand and that product?

Is our obsession with engagement rates and likes meaning that the influence we have over people is ending up being shallow and meaningless? I’m not sure I have the answer for this but it is a question I’m pondering.

There are certain pictures on my account that do so well and they are often pictures I love; they have huge engagement rates, but the conversation is generally me thanking people for the nice comment and while I really am thankful and I love producing images that fly, is that influence?

Take the photos I did about me going vegetarian and the fashion industry – granted that as pictures they are not massively creative or beautiful and the likes and engagement on them is down, but the conversations that they both started were amazing. I learnt something, the people engaging learnt something and we all recommended to each other things that can help. I feel that with these posts I actually produced something meaningful and just for a moment I felt like I was influencing and maybe changing the world a little bit for the better. Yet to look at these posts you might think that they were not successful. I don’t know; I find the whole thing really interesting.

Is our job as influencers just to influence a sale or is it to influence a change, or maybe both?

For me I think it’s the latter first; I don’t want to be advertising space, but I want to make money. I want my posts to influence people in some way to make a change that will impact them, their lives, the world or the lives of others. This is why I often turn down collaborations, because I just can’t see the story that I can tell that has any meaning for me, let alone anyone else.

My wish is that brands perhaps will start thinking about more than figures, engagement rates and story views and start thinking about real influence, the conversations we start that will stay with people long after they have stopped scrolling, the influencers that don’t necessarily make us want to buy the next cool thing but who make us want to do something different to what we did before.

But maybe I am looking at this whole thing with rose-tinted glasses.

I was recently reading a post form allthatisshe about her projectlittercritter posts not doing so well. These are posts where she makes litter into animals to highlight the excessive use of plastic and how it is influencing our environment. She was saying how she wondered if she should continue these posts as they didn’t do so well. And honestly this makes me so sad because out of all the amazing posts she does, these I feel are the most important.

I don’t know, perhaps influence is still such a new word that we don’t really know what it means and maybe on Instagram people just want to be entertained rather than be asked to think about more thoughtful concepts. And maybe the likes and engagement only really come when we create something truly pleasing to the eye.

BUT that shouldn’t stop us, it never should, influence is something not given to us lightly and I think it never should be taken lightly. I feel truly blessed that people listen to me and like my work. Do I get concerned when posts I am passionate about don’t do so well? A little, I’m not going to lie, but does it stop me? No never, because if I stopped doing this then who am I? Am I then just a storefront, a model wearing the latest trend or someone just producing content with little meaning yet lots of likes?

No thank you. I take my influence seriously and lightly at the same time. And I absolutely know my followers are brilliant enough to come along for the ride.

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