‘How to be you po’ gone wrong: re-assessing the kind of social media influencers that we are

I have witnessed a lot of Blogger A followers vs Blogger B followers that were truly entertaining and at the same time off. As a social media marketer, I find audience behaviour very amusing (and interesting) subject so I keep up with the business trends by focusing on this model.

When an Influencer builds a loyal following, that troop will do anything and everything for you come high hell and water. Even if we don’t have any idea where they are getting the time and energy to spend on a person they don’t know, they will still do it.

Why?

This is a very solid proof that social media influencers are running this world. Advertisers often find it difficult to gage the real relationship of a follower and Influencer as ‘follower buying’ is very rampant. But for some social media influencers who have built a tribe, everything comes easy.

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Building a tribe

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P.S. I’m On My Way Reader Meet Up in Dubai, UAE

The first thing I learned when I built this blog: having a tribe is important. I wouldn’t know how my blogging life would be if it wasn’t because of the loyal readers who have supported and loved me throughout this journey. I don’t have millions of followers because I don’t want a lot – I want a loyal troop. I want people who will not treat me as a celebrity but as an equal. A friend. A confidant.

Every day, I reply to hundreds of emails because I don’t want to ignore the people who took time reading my blog. Come on! They tell you they’ve been spending 3 hours on your blog and you can’t even give 3 minutes to answer back? Not cool. Remember that when you answer reader messages, that’s when they get converted to a loyal audience.

I am often called the woman who doesn’t sleep and has time for everything and anyone. I had the itch to know my “followers” on a personal level so I created a Facebook group where we can all chat as normal people and share the same hopes and dreams.

No, no, no… The group is not all about me. The group is not about asking people to like my Instagram photos or share my blog links. This group is small and I am very happy to see that everyone is very interactive and friendly. To the point that some of them already made friendships and traveled together just because of the group!

Aside from creating a Facebook group, I make sure to arrange a meet-up wherever I am in the world. I didn’t even think someone from Slovenia or Georgia is reading me! It’s refreshing to put a face on the overwhelming comments I receive. It helps me become a better travel blogger because meeting them personally gives me the opportunity to know what they want and to take my content in different levels.

If there’s one thing I learned about the Influencer-follower relationship, it’s about attracting the person that you are. Sure, we all write good content. But when we are promoting the posts, we will never get everyone to follow us because it’s not their cup of tea. Every blogger will have its audience that will favour their content. We can’t have everyone.

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'How to be you po' gone wrong

P.S. I’m On My Way Reader Meet Up in Manila, Philippines

There’s this writer dude over at Thought Catalog (sorry, I couldn’t find the link) who kept trash talking the rave about traveling and travel bloggers. He said that traveling is not the future and that you should do greater things by staying in the corporate world. He even said that travelers do nothing and it made my eyebrows raised. But the remark that ticked my patience meter was about travel bloggers posting in bikinis just to get shitloads of Instagram likes.

While I don’t often post pictures in bikinis, I have friends that do and it really bothers me when you question what other people do for a living. As always, this is free journalism – the writer dude is entitled to whatever he wants to write even if the whole world won’t agree about his opinions towards traveling and travel blogging.

Damn it, I wish people knew that our lives are not easy as travel bloggers.

But I also realised there is some truth in what he wrote. No matter what we do, sex sells. People will always like nearly nude photos and girls in bikinis. The world is becoming more and more radical that this type is content is acceptable anywhere. As social media influencers, one thing we have to ask ourselves: how do we want our followers to look at us? How do we want to lead a good example?

If we don’t have a vision for the different type of content that we do, it can send different signals to our audience. Some will be obsessed about being thin and might have eating disorders because ‘thin’ is the definition of sexy. I always chose to use my “influence” through words because pictures can send millions of subliminal messages if not explained well.

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What can we do?

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I am not questioning anyone’s content here but maybe, just maybe, we can re-assess the way we showcase our content. No! Please! Don’t stop posting bikini pictures or makeup tutorial videos.

But maybe, just maybe, we can all start being transparent on what we really do.

If we are posting a lot of photos of our travels (it comes with the job), we can showcase a lot of hardships, too. Come on, it’s not easy! Let’s no make it appear that it’s super easy. Did we forget that travel is not a necessity but a luxury? In order to inspire other people and send the right message (if that’s the goal), we have to be open and honest about this life that we have the privilege to live.

In an earlier note, I mentioned about the follower war that is commonly happening in social media because of indifferences. Can we not participate in this? I mean, if you are tolerating the follower wars, what does that make of you? I really believe that the readers/followers that you have reflect you. “Tell me who your followers are and I’ll tell you who you are”, as they say in the blogosphere.

I hope we can also change the way we present the products/brands we work with. Even if you think you are getting “free stuff” from these companies, you need to work by posting nice pictures and a convincing article. Are we not sick of “Guys! Check out @productA and @productB on Instagram for some cool stuff!” How about, “I really love *insert product here*. They are amazing! You should have it!” We are the future of marketing so I think we should put a little effort and professionalism in what we do. Full disclosure on product reviews (although your audience know it’s an ad. They’re not stupid), I think we should disclose this info.

Another thing we can do: find a good reason why we should be followed and that we are good examples. I have no idea how to do this but for me, it’s always about unbiased opinions and no judgment kind of thing. And no online attacking, gosh!

It’s also advisable to have a very good relationship with our ‘followers’ and treat them as friends. Remember, they are the ones keeping us afloat. Without them, we are nothing. If you don’t have any idea who is following you (or you don’t even know them by name), it’s time that you put effort to it.

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This post from Salt In our Hair is very relevant to this section:

“This photo of @doyoutravel is the one that made us visit Pinnawala. Don’t get us wrong, we really love the travels of @doyoutravel and @gypsealust but we hate that Pinnawala is getting the promotion they don’t deserve. Please let us show you the real Pinnawala.”

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Social media influencers are the future

And by future, I don’t mean the future of Internet Marketing but the future. The future, that’s it! We might not know it very well yet but the people who are following us look up to us like role models. Whatever we say, do, think, write, tweet (even if it’s right or wrong, even if you are cursing or badmouthing other people), there is blind faith – they will believe it and will do it, too. We are breeding a generation of humans!

Our influence is powerful but we should use it responsibly. Being aware of our influence, choosing a channel to convey our message and using it right are the main factors that will help this world to be a better place – a world that everybody is wishing and praying for. Contribute to make that ‘better world.’

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What kind of social media influencer or travel blogger are you? How do you use your influence?

I would love to hear your experiences! Leave your tips, suggestions, insights, violent reactions on the comment box below!

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Trisha is on Instagram!

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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha is an ambassador of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls' education and empowerment. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

Comments

  • April 28, 2017

    Your thoughts are always on-point, Trisha! There are so many influencers these days and sad to say, some are just polluting the minds of their followers. That’s why it is important to choose who we idolize and follow (online and offline). 🙂

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  • April 29, 2017

    I reply to everyone personally too and always reply to messages! It would be wrong not to

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  • Indrani
    April 30, 2017

    It is a race for likes out there. People miss the thin line between right and wrong.
    Very well explained social media code of conduct here. We must use our influence responsibly. Thanks!

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  • April 30, 2017

    Spot-on! I really enjoyed reading your post, particularly because I agree with what you said. I just would like to comment though that, we should stop painting our traveller’s life as perfect, but not because travel is a luxury and not a necessity. On a personal level, there are people who fell into depression for being influenced by “perfect lives” on social media, when their lives aren’t that perfect. I think this is more of a bad knowledge on how to interact with social media. And regarding traveling being a luxury, that is exactly what we (my wife and I) want to change. It should not be! Traveling is when you open up your mind, learn to respect others and about others. It should not be limited to some. I think we should make traveling look like something everyone can, and should do!

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  • May 2, 2017

    Blogging has changed a great deal in the short time (8 years) that I’ve been involved. The influencer as it is defined today didn’t exist then, or it wasn’t called that. I agree that transparency is key and extremely important, and it’s unfortunate that it’s not universal. It’s interesting to see the FTC cracking down on those influencers (celebrity and otherwise) who are not disclosing campaigns they are being compensated for.

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  • May 3, 2017

    So true in many ways. This all resonates with being kind to one another. I firmly believe in supporting each other. When one small tide rises, we all rise together.

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  • Megan Jerrard
    May 3, 2017

    Really great perspective Trisha, social media followers do become a family and a tight knit group, and I have a number of very close friends now that first found me through our blog. So you’re 100% on that one of the important things is to think of what you’re doing as building a tribe as opposed to a following – it should be a two way communication channel 🙂

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  • Chrysoula
    May 3, 2017

    Everything you write is so true. As an influencer, you must be very careful on what you present to other people. You need to be responsible.

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  • July 13, 2017

    This is so interesting to read. As we are just starting out attempting this blog thing, we are struggling with some of these issues already. We mainly started this because we are those people who all our friends say should more formally share our advice and travel ideas. It’s amazing how many people don’t realize that they can travel! We are average people with pretty much a below average budget and we can’t travel all the time. But we love it and I want to show it as realistically as possible. It really can be a struggle when you see the kinds of things that get so many “likes” and so much attention. But seeing that other people “get it” is inspirational and makes it worth continuing to attempt. Thanks for the good read!

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