Mom & I Take Influencing
Let's talk about influence for a second. If you are anything like me, you have a few (or maybe many) people you follow on social media who get paid to "influence." Whether they are representing fashion, home decor, travel... no matter what it is, odds are there is at least one person you follow who is trying to "influence" you to purchase one thing or another. The whole idea of influencing has really been on my mind a lot lately because I was just SO TIRED of being encouraged to purchase things! Everywhere I looked there was a sale or an outfit or a product I needed to try... I went through a purge and unfollowed a ton of accounts who were constantly "influencing" me to spend money I would rather spend elsewhere, but found too much temptation in purchasing what they were putting out there. I stuck with a few I can't walk away from (shout-out Amber Fillerup, you the blogging MVP), but otherwise I had to get away from everyone constantly trying to convince me to purchase something.
I know, not everyone is as impressionable as I am. Perhaps you see these advertisements and simply scroll passed, good on you! There are other ways we can be influenced besides monetarily, however. At one point it was almost comical to scroll through my instagram feed because it felt like "Battle of the Blogger Bodies" when some of these "influencers" almost seemed like they were subconsciously fighting over who can get the most "OMG YOUR BOD, #GOALS, AND SHE HAS TWO KIDS!" comments. Some of the photos were a little too saucy for my taste, considering these were just moms on the beach trying to get you to purchase a swimsuit.
Now, I don't want to sit here and be the lady-basher. I fully believe in the whole "YOU DO YOU BOO" phrase, and Amy Poehler said it best when she said, "good for her, not for me." But the peak of my interest in "influencing" has recently had me thinking of the things these types of posts are actually influencing. My beautiful nieces are in middle school and high school. I am pretty sure they follow several of these bloggers and think of them as #MOMGOALS. I can't help but wonder if somewhere in their mind they now feel encouraged and/or justified in posted saucy photos in swimsuits themselves. I know parenting comes in to play, but the desire to be as beautiful and sexy as these "influencers" they idolize has to play a role in what they feel is acceptable to post to the world.
What really has my mind racing about "influencing" right now is how it is used for selfish purposes. Once again, I am not ragging on the women who want to only post about their outfits and skin care routines in order to make money for their family. Let me back up...
A few weeks ago I started following a man on instagram named Collin Kartchner. His initial feed was simply a fun and funny place to see the ironies of some of the "influencing." He would make silly jokes about affiliate links, sponsor swag, and power influencer privileges. He was never rude or unkind, he would simply jokingly point out the irony of people telling us to "love ourselves" while they are on their way to their botox appointments... things like that. I thoroughly enjoyed following him because it was refreshing for someone to point out the stereotypes and put it in to perspective how much of the "influencer" world was simply advertisement for people to fill their own pockets.
He was triggered by the response from some "influencers" when the recent hurricane hit in Texas. There were people who used the Hurricane Harvey hashtag to promote their LikeToKnowIt posts. It was so upsetting to him (and those of us watching) that "influencers" would use such a terrible time when people were losing all of their belongings to "schlep" (my favorite word he uses) their products. As a result, he decided to use his influencer status (he had about 20k followers) to try and raise money for the victims of the hurricane. It started out as a simple auction, and soon turned in to over $100,000 for those effected by the hurricane. He and his wife personally went to Texas and delivered the money raised to different families and individuals in need. He showed the video footage of their faces when they saw the money being given to them by thousands of strangers. He used his "influence" to make a true and genuine difference in the lives of people going through a horrific tragedy.
This isn't to say it's a bad thing to do a review of a product, or to even get paid to write about a product on your social media platforms. It IS to say that sometimes tact should be used. Sometimes you should think about how it is interpreted if you are encouraging people to purchase rainboots from your affiliate link while they are hunkering down for a category 5 hurricane, that's all.
I do not have 20k followers on instagram. I don't consider myself an "influencer." I do, however, have nieces that see how I act on social media. I have a child. I work with the young women at my church. No matter how small it is, I too "influence" people whether I like it or not. So do you. People are watching you. No matter how small your circle is... whether you have 50 or 500k followers on social media... you have the ability to influence someone.
I certainly hope that my influence is the type to love and support people who are suffering, rather than trying to take advantage of hard times for my own personal gain. What type of influence do you want to have?