My Instagram feed is full of want-to-be Instagram Influencers, Instagram storying their life away, posting stories every hour or two, documenting their every move and thought, all in the name of “growing a brand. Here is the harsh reality:
Few of them ever build much of a brand. Even fewer ever monetize it. Most waste their own time, and they waste the time of the small audience they do have by providing no real value.
Most of us know at least one want-to-be influencer. They’re easy to identify. They usually start their IG story with something like, “what’s up Instagram Fam?” You know, the type that posts to their IG story religiously, like its a reality TV show staring only themselves. They’ll wake up and post about their breakfast. They’ll then post about their morning workout, of course only after they post a motivational quote or two in which they make no effort to give the author of the quote any credit. You’ll then get to follow them on their way to work as they post multiple video clips, while irresponsibly driving and putting everyone’s life on the road at risk, as they tell you some major life update that is almost as exciting as yesterdays life update. Then, every hour or two they’ll give you a new update on their day. They’ll probably even share a screen shot of a story from someone else in which they are tagged or mentioned, because, you know, its not good enough to scream “look at me” over and over all day, you also need to say, “Hey, look at me as I look at other people looking at me!” They might do something fun with friends after work, a dinner, a show or a movie. I mean, they aren’t partaking in the fun, who has time for fun when your focus is to capture the moment for your IG fam, but, they were there, physically, sort of. Add a meme or two, maybe one or two other major life updates, maybe a life hack tip or two, and their story for the day is complete. They’ve successfully Instagram-storied their day away. But don’t worry, by the time you wake up they’ll have already added another IG Story congratulating themselves on how early they got up with a quote sure to empower your day.
This might sound harsh, but some of you reading this need a wake-up call, and those of you who know someone like the type of person I described above need to take that friend aside and have a series conversation, if not intervention.
For the want-to-be influencers. I will grant you this, though you may be a bit late to the party, sure, there is a chance, a small chance, that you might grow a large following and get some major promotional or sponsorship deal that allows you to live a lavish lifestyle. Even in the 0.001% chance you do, is it really worth it? I don’t think it is.
We are meant to live life. There are few qualities more enchanting than a person that knows how to be in the moment. That is when happiness happens. That is when pure joy is experienced. You can’t experience it if you’re focused on capturing the moment. Furthermore, all the time and effort your putting towards, essentially glorying yourself to a group of people who don’t really know you, could be spent elsewhere on more productive things that lead to more enriching success and happiness.
For the person who knows a want-to-be influencer like this. Realize that most aren’t truly “building a brand.” That is just the excuse they make. Most have spent years posting daily content and have fewer than 10k followers to show for it. They are escaping the reality of their life. They are full of insecurities. They aren’t happy with themselves. In fact, as I think of all the people I know who use IG Story or Snapchat more than 3-4 times a day, they’re all people I would classify as unhappy and highly insecure. It is important to understand that when you talk to them. It means you have to come from a place of love and support and realize that they’ll hold on tight to this brand, aka alternative reality, that they have created. They’ll justify it. But in the end, it is you, and time with you in the real world that they really need. Give them a taste of true friendship, of someone they can share about their day with and that they can have a good time with without ever taking out their phone to capture the moment. Invite them to join you in the real world.
For the want-to-be influencers: You may find me harsh, but if you’re still reading this, you have to admit to yourself that a lot of this article rings true to you. I can relate. In my lowest moment in life, social media was just getting popular. I did grow a brand. I did monetize it, though not as well as I would have liked to or should have. I did impact some peoples life for the better, I really worked hard to use social media for good. I’ve raised a lot of money for non profits and charities through social media. I’ve formed some great relationships that I’d not otherwise have. I’ve made my living off of social media for the past 11 years. I’ve made almost every list you can for top social media marketers and top influencers. I’m one of the few that “made it,” and if I had it to do over again, I’d do most of it differently.
I missed so many moments because I was documenting the moment. I convinced myself that it was okay because I wasn’t “as bad” as others. I once watched a beautiful sunset through my phone recording it live – and missed the sunset myself, then never watched that video. I recorded the finish of a marathon, recording all the supporters, never taking the time to actually appreciate the support and interact with the supporters. The worst part, I set a bad example for my nieces and nephews in times of family gathers and playing with them when I’d pay more attention to my phone and capturing the moment than I would to them. My youngest niece got so use to it that finally she started to want to stop playing and just watch the replay of the video of us playing. That’s when I knew it was time to put the phone away. So, I get it. I’ve been there. My day was before IG Stories back when we just had 1-2 social networks and no videos, but my generation of marketers and influencers laid the ground work that would lead to all of you new to the game IG Storying your life away.
When we have our phones out recording the moment, we are telling the people around us that capturing the moment is more important than enjoying it with them. We are telling them that our “brand” and social media is more important than them.
Being practical, and as a voice of a professional in the industry and someone who does hire and manage influencers, if you’ve been posting consistent content, if you’re someone who has been posting multiple times per day in IG Stores, and you don’t have over 100,000 followers, or you haven’t managed to make a living wage from it after a year or two, you’re not likely to make it. The social media world has spoken, and they just aren’t that into you. Either you’re not providing value, not creative enough, or the breaks just did not go your way. Spending even more time documenting your life away is not the answer. You need to put down your phone, stop building your brand, and start living life.
The marketing world needs influencers. I am not anti-influencers. It can be a great lifestyle and way to make a living. It is no longer for me, and odds are, its not for you either.
Put down your phones.
Worry less about documenting the moment and more about being in the moment.
Note: If you are a want-to-be influencer and you want me professional opinion on if you can make a living as an influencer, or if you should move on to something else, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org