The Ugly Truth: How Influencers Are Hurting Themselves

Our industry is built on competition, but what if I told you I wanted to shake things up and challenge this notion of "competition" and replaced it with something I've found to be worthwhile, the building of a community.

What word best sums up our influencer marketing world? Competition or community? Let me guess, most of you chose competition. You probably find yourselves competing daily as a content creator. How come? What if I told you…you’re on the wrong path.

I understand, I fight to sign clients, clients fight to get jobs, brands fight to have the best campaigns. Our industry is built on competition, but what if I told you I wanted to shake things up and challenge this notion of “competition” and replaced it with something I’ve found to be worthwhile, the building of a community.

Boost society is that community.

The idea of Boost Society was to create a worldwide community where every single influencer, content creator, and talent could come together to support, work, encourage, and meet one another. The idea came to me when it seemed that the social media industry had a negative competition like feel to it. These negative vibes come from comparing. Comparing is a form of competition. Let me tell you why. A common thought throughout the industry is the idea that someone took that job from them or “what am I missing that I was not chosen for that brand collaboration?”. Within social media, people may feel like they are constantly comparing themselves and wishing they were this or that. They saw their peers as their competitors and I wanted to find a way to kill that negative mindset within the industry and build a society of influencers who all wanted to be friends, support each other, meet one another, and become somewhat of a family. Basically, I was trying to find a way to band together as many talented individuals as possible and create a “Union”. In other words, a group of like minded individuals who come together and stand together as one.

When I first started in this industry, I quickly realized that there was a lack of everything that Boost Society represents (support, order, stability, and organization). Coming from the television industry, where every company would undercut a competitor, just to land that next job. For example, in the visual effects industry, I know of Oscar winning companies who went bankrupt before they ever received their award. Why? Because they devalued their own talents for the job. We live in a money driven society. So it is simple, the cheaper your services, the more likely you are to “win” the job

I started noticing the same thing happening within the influencer industry. As an agent/manager myself, the money side of the business is where I thrive. Don’t get me wrong, competition can be great if it fits in the right situation, like how it keeps us on our toes to always be learning and pushing ourselves so we do not get lazy and fall behind. I just don’t think the way we have left it to play out in this industry, is healthy.

The age of the nano, micro, macro, and celebrity influencer is in full affect, and I think a few (not all, as there are hundreds doing it SO RIGHT) brands and PR agencies have taken advantage of that. I realize that some of the nano and micro influencers are doing it to themselves as well, by just being new to the game and not realizing the power they have in the market and where they should be positioning themselves. 

There have been COUNTLESS articles written about “the dawn of the micro influencer” and how they can drive more results for any influencer campaign. This article written by Forbes talks about whether micro influencers are the “force of the future”, and this one written by Impact defines what a micro influencer even is and why they are “so effective”.

I don’t disagree (you all are the future), but…I am going to run in a different direction than they have, because I have some theories, that may be true, at least in some respect, and I want you all to think on them.

Basically, those few PR agencies and brands have “realized” that nano and micro influencers are new to the industry and that most of them (and by most, it is based on the knowledge I have) are just very excited to have a following and and be able to travel for free, attend special events, receive free product and share their own opinions and experiences. What has happened is these brands, that used to pay thousands of dollars for television, print, and radio, have found a way to get “FREE” advertising. By free, I mean, in exchange for products, which is ultimately enough for some influencers.

Now all the macro influencers (50K+ following) occasionally have brands asking them to do campaigns or sponsored posts for free. The mindset now in the industry is that if a brand is such a perfect fit, it is your first partnership, you want to impress them and so forth, it is fine to give your services for free. In some cases, it is (see next weeks blog for why). This becomes an issue when when a macro influencer (which you nano and micro influencers WILL become), tries to quit their job and be a full time content creator or influencer, and they are relying on consistent brand collaborations and partnerships to stay afloat. 

Let me ask you this…What are you working towards? To lay it out bluntly…how can there be any growth in your career if you are always offering your services for free at any stage in the game. Why would a brand offer you a job that you are perfect for, if another creator will just do it for free or half price? Here’s the worst part. You aren’t doing it to each other on purpose. What is interesting, is the other influencer you are “competing” against is not even aware they are under charging. The skill of knowing how to quote properly comes from community. We know how much to expect to make as a doctor, teacher, bank teller, etc. because that information is shared. There is a standard and it is well communicated.

So as you can see, this is where the competition aspect comes into play. Simply put, STOP undercutting each other, but how can you? You don’t even know you are doing it. The space is so new and there is no system in place to truly help everyone out as a collective. Due to this situation and the fact that influencer marketing is just so vast, brands and PR agencies are reaping the benefits, and getting incredible results for a fraction of what they used to pay for advertising. 

Now, a few years into the boom of the influencer industry, we have talented people playing the comparison game. “Why did they get that job and I didn’t?” and “what makes them better than I am?” 

I totally understand that some of those comparing feelings have come from the following numbers and the amount of likes somebody’s photo got, but to stay positive, thanks to Instagram, it is now impossible to compare yourself that way (with likes, I mean). BUT, being a manager that is in the thick of it all day, let me let you in on a little secret, It has nothing to do with you or your talent, and everything to do with money. People are doing jobs for free or for less, and the thing is, some of the PR agencies and brands (definitely not all of them) do not care, because in the end, they are getting what they want at a cheaper price. In the end, there are a TON of amazing brands and PR agencies, trust me, so let’s hope that we all can spend more time with companies who truly see an influencers value. 

Also, do not forget, there are the obvious reasons that the competition aspect is unhealthy. If you are someone who unfollows someone because they have better performance than you, or they got a job you applied for or wish you had been asked to be a part of. Feeling as though someone has copied you or are stealing your style, and maybe even using that style to move to heights you have not reached yet, you are just adding fuel to the fire. There is so much negativity within social media these days, and it is so easy to put people down and hide behind our phones or keyboards, and it will only get worse, unless we try to collectively, be better, as a community.

This is why Boost Society was started, we wanted to get rid of all of this, or at least as much as we can, and stand with these incredibly talented people and push back for proper pay and compensation for the great brand exposure, growth, and sales these companies are receiving. We want to supply our team with an environment of support, that starts with us and only expands outwards into our network. 

So far, we have succeeded. We have an amazing group of talent who all believe in the same things as us and want to be part of a community of strong and talented people who have the same mindset as they do.

How are we accomplishing this? Well, we have a WhatsApp chat where our team can talk, plan meetups, bounce ideas off each other, send interesting articles or videos, basically everything you could ask for from a support system. We have also started out team trips, with Egypt being a massive success, where we were able to bring people from all over the world, some who have not met before, to travel to a new country and experience, collaborate, expand their audiences, and enjoy together. We have provided a space where questions, curiosity, and issues can be resolved. Maybe someone else has experienced what you are going through and their advice can be shared so that we can all learn together and feel that support.

We know we can change this industry for the better and we know there are tons of talented people out there who are interested as well. Step by step, hopefully we all can start to make a conscious effort to be more supportive and collaborative with our peers.

If you are left wondering, how much should I be charging? In 2020, Boost Society is releasing an online course to help new and old talent from the industry, to learn our insights into the business side of the influencer world, what their services are ACTUALLY worth, and much more. Hopefully this will guide them in the right direction that will help our industry as a whole and make a wave that will change the mindsets of brands, that all creators, influencers, and talent, no matter the size, should be fairly treated and compensated for the services they are offering. 

There will also be an amazing Facebook community that is going to act as an expansion to our current Boost Society roster, where all course members will be able to support one another, share wins, losses, new concepts, and truly feel like they are a part of something special and ultimately never make them feel like they are alone in this industry, again. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter in the sidebar so you can be kept in the loop about all of our tips, trick, and blogs and all future details regarding the course and when it will be released.

Share in the comments an experience you have had, negative or positive, and how it has affected you. I am sure there is at least one other person reading this blog that has been through the same, and that comment might make them feel a little less lonely.

Next week we will be sharing about “when is it time to start charging for collaborations?” This will be a great segue after this weeks discussion, as I am sure a lot of people are still trying to figure out how and when is the right time to ask for money.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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