An Open Letter to Influencers
I know you hate this word, but it is the very crux of what you do! I have no qualms with this title, in fact, I intentionally immerse myself in your world. It’s the kind of career you could only dream about, being paid to share your passion whilst building a community of like-minded people. I have just had a hard time getting behind a lot of girls online recently, it seems like the paychecks are interfering with the passion. I would much rather of titled this ‘dear blogger’, however, I’m finding it rare to come across a full time ‘blogger’ who does actually still write and upload to their blog. Something I can’t get behind if I’m honest, but full-time Instagrammer would probably cause some offense!
Transparency around gifted items is something I can’t get my head around. My initial follow online would have been a ‘wow, she has really great taste’ moment. As platforms grow and brands become more invested your lack of transparency around this now means I don’t know what you did or didn’t get sent for free, Is this your honest opinion? Is your personal style actually personal anymore? The use of Hashtag AD or Paid Promotion is now a legal requirement, but what about gifted items? The £2000 Dior saddle bag for example (Read this article if not aware of Saddle Bag-Gate)!… It was misinformative and felt dishonest. I consider myself a switched on and savvy 20 something, yet I still find myself questioning how the influx of new new new is possible, let alone sustainable. Is it because there’s so much un-announced gifting? Are you going to disclose you’ve been lent this dress and will be returning it after the photo or event? I have no issue with the practice of gifting, who the hell wouldn’t want that?! Keep your witty captions, just a simple hashtag gifted on the end of your comment will help us to feel less… misled.
Since the age of 15, I have been in full-time employment. I don’t have my dream career but I do have a guaranteed sum of money in my bank account each month. I can only imagine that self-employment comes with financial uncertainties, I’ve heard stories of influencers having to wait months for receipt of payment, and naturally incoming jobs will fluctuate month to month. I can see why certain influencers have then seemingly taken on very unexpected paid jobs. For example, I only really follow fashion-related content, so imagine my confusion at seeing digital contraceptive app ‘Natural Cycles’ plastered all over my feed a few months back. I’m not interested in seeing this kind of product, and it’s certainly not related to the fashion industry.. so why are a bunch of ‘fashion influencers’ trying to sell me it? I couldn’t see past the paycheck, again it felt dishonest and I immediately unfollowed. This has been on my mind since reading this week that this particular App has been found to be unreliable (related Guardian article linked here). It’s another point that honesty goes a long way, don’t accept a paycheck to promote a product unless it’s been tried, tested and you wholeheartedly believe in its value. It really isn’t worth the possible implications and your integrity is so much more valuable than any sum of money.
Did you wake up like that? Is this honestly your morning routine? Is that really what you eat in a day? One blogger came heavily under fire for her obviously staged morning on Instagram last week (Article linked here). No, death threats are not warranted or condoned here at all, she’s the unfortunate 1 out of 10,00000 girls who post similarly outlandish ideas of the ‘perfect this or that’. The outcry has indicated that people are sick of these idealistic images, we’re not buying it anymore. Editorials – yep, love them. Creative Images – go for it, express yourself and do it in your own way. Outright lying – Nope, never OK. Think about your following – are they of a certain age, how will this make them feel? There’s a theme here – transparency and honesty. Post whatever you like as long as you can stand behind it as genuine.
The reason I involved myself in the digital world of fashion was for the new and relatable voices. I’ve always read Vogue, Grazia, Porter Mag.. (I still do)! They’re aspirational yes, but we know the mags have to please advertisers and therefore hold back on opinion and stick to facts. Blogs allow for people to voice an opinion, it’s a platform for both recommendations and candid reviews. We get to see the clothes we want on girls that look like us. We learn about the person beyond the images, and we’re able to relate and therefore invest in individuals. Despite my current feelings I genuinely do want this industry to continue to flourish, in a more meaningful way.
If you have any kind of a following, use it responsibly.
How would you feel if you viewed the same thing – is it a positive feeling?
Work with brands that align with your ethics – do your research!
Showing off your newly gifted item? HASHTAG GIFTED.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for the influencer community? I’m interested to hear your thoughts below!