I wonder if it is worth being influential if being influential makes you lose your self-worth?
Or maybe not your self-worth entirely but it makes you lose it coming from an internal source.
Is it worth relying on the validation of others to assess the validity of your opinions?
Or is it better to trust your instinct and do what you think is best?
At the end of the day, influence is not infinite.
Is it better to yell out into the void, if you are yelling your truth?
Or is it better to speak to the masses if you are just being a mouthpiece for whoever is funding your life?
Do you want to be seen and heard for your true self or for who you think you should be?
Who you are being paid to be?
What you are being paid to believe?
Where is the line?
I have been doing a lot of hard thinking on the concept of influencers recently as I feel like it is a trend which has permeated culture in a way that cannot be ignored. Being an influencer is something that kids aspire to be nowadays and that thought alone scares me. It is considered an admirable feat, achieving online popularity, but is it really true? I would argue, no.
I was scrolling through my Instagram explore page last week when I came across a brand page for a company owned by an influencer. It had a follower count in the low six-figures yet received just a few hundred likes per post. Immediately I thought something was fishy. It has been said that accounts with under 1000 followers should have an engagement rate of around 7-8% and 2-3% for large accounts (100k+). This account had an engagement rate of around 0.5%, meaning not even 1% of its followers were liking their posts. Using services like Social Blade, you can see large spikes in followers, quickly followed by a loss of around half that sum. That tends to indicate that somebody has bought followers. If their daily average is around 100 new followers a day, then one day there is 1000 new followers, they’ve probably purchased them. It’s easy and inexpensive to do, but builds you an inauthentic following. I wonder if Instagram were to delete every bought follower what the true following count of each account would be? For this account, I’d argue only around 5000 followers. For that said influencer’s own account (1m+), I’d estimate the real following to be around 150k.
One thing I noticed was this account with a large following was still buying frequent re-ups of followers. I found this sad because it made me realize that no matter how big your account is, if you are somebody who is so sucked into this social media lifestyle the numbers will always matter to you. You will always judge yourself based on the numbers at your disposal. You don’t want to look any less popular than you may have once appeared to be.
I recently privated my own Instagram account and I feel glad that I did it. I’m not trying to be “known”. I’d like to be recognized in my own industry for my work and brains, and for being a nice person. I’d like people to actually like me because they like me, not because I have a lot of people following me. I don’t like when people judge someone to be cool just because they have a large following. That is lame. It’s like an extension of high school, an ongoing popularity contest. It just allows an immature mindset to flourish in adulthood, something that should’ve been left in adolescence.
In ten years time, what will all of the followers be worth? What will have happened to each influencer when social media stops being a big thing? Some of them have struggled to create long-lasting brands that can stand on their own outside of the online personality’s own fame. For those people, all of these years will have been wasted. The only way I can see an online following being beneficial is if you manage to convert the followers into customers and build a real, successful brand. A brand that is sold in stores, a brand that can stand on its own with product that has real value besides the name being slapped on it. I wonder who is here for the long haul and who will disappear into the void.