Hunting For Witches
∇ A campaign directed against a person or group holding views considered unorthodox or a threat to society.
‘he claimed he was the victim of a media witch-hunt’
I feel like this post has been a long time coming and that the dust has settled enough on recent situations for me to talk about this in a positive light. The term witch hunt has been thrown around quite a bit in the last few weeks and I don’t really know how to feel about it. In all the drama that’s gone on in the ‘UK Influencer space’ recently it’s no surprise that I feel this way. My name in fact came up several times in a recent article (in a good way) that provided a 2 year analysis of UK Influencers who were proven to be faking their Instagram Following with proof from SocialBlade. Obviously the people listed were not happy and some didn’t mention it at all. It’s a little bit awkward as you can imagine.
Just an FYI – For those who don’t know SocialBlade is a website/tool that keeps track of everyones social media followings, YouTube, Twitter and ofcourse Instagram. The moment anything occurs, it’s logged. It’s free and available to use by anyone. Clicking on the ‘Historical Data’ tab reveals a lot about how someones following has grown in the past. Try it with mine here.
Also I’d like to add that Instagram released a statement late last year saying
You can read Instagrams whole article on it here.
Why I care
My name came up in a positive way firstly because I’ve never tried to cheat the system and secondly because a couple of years ago I asked someone publicly why they were lying about their use of Instagram bots to inorganically grow their following. The tweet in question has 18,000 impressions and only 60 likes. It was also a reply in a long thread so you can imagine how many people were silently watching the drama unfold. I was then blocked and still am – says a lot really.
The only reason I went ahead and asked publicly was because I had proof. You should never call anyone out without cold hard evidence.
First I’m going to explain why i care so much – My job, the way I earn my living – requires a lot of hard work, it also took 8 years to get to where i am today. The basis of any creators existence requires having a loyal, committed and trusting community who find inspiration, help and enjoyment in what they create. We’re at such an incredible time where people can work for themselves by creating their own content online and I’m so proud to be one of the Pioneers especially in the mens fashion scene to establish this as a career. So basically I’m proud of what i do and it takes a long time to get to this point.
The ‘Glamorous’ Influencer Lifestyle
The ‘influencer’ lifestyle on the outside is glamorous. First class flights, swanky hotel rooms, free clothes, free trips etc. It’s made to look that way because otherwise, why would you share it online? However you have to understand that the glamorous lifestyle a lot of the time is for show and so much goes on behind the scenes that you’re unaware of. I think at this moment in time people see the lifestyle and want a piece of the pie but aren’t willing to put in the time to grow an organic audience because they want it now, they want everything immediately and if they don’t have x amount of followers or x amount of likes right now then they will be deemed as a failure. Here’s where the problem begins.
New kids on the block, bloggers, instagram-ers or ‘aspiring influencers’ who aren’t popping on instagram (believe me it takes a long time to ‘pop’) feel like they need to
- start using bots to ‘follow/unfollow’ accounts to build their following.
- join comment pods to seem more popular. ( where you comment on someones picture and they comment on yours in return).
- Buy Likes or followers.
All of these practices are wrong. Instagram says it’s wrong. It’s bad for your growth, bad for your community and quite frankly all round embarrassing.
Also – no one is forcing anyone to create content on Instagram, no one is pressuring you to become a super successful instagram star over night? The only person putting pressure on you is yourself. I’ve seen people whining and saying there is a pressure to grow quickly and get more followers etc. FROM WHO? You don’t have to do ANYTHING. It’s your decision. No ones making you earn your living off Instagram full time, if it works and it’s happening then amazing! that’s so good! But if it’s not working for you organically – you’re not a failure, no one is judging you, you can still create content it just isn’t your time yet.
It’s also a kick in the teeth to people like me who have been building their audience for years, working with brands for years and who have a huge respect for other people in the same career as me.
By doing any of the above actions to inorganically seem more popular online to then reap the rewards of the ‘influencer lifestyle’ you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. It’s also useful to point out that when people try any of these things, the moment you stop doing them, your following decreases, the likes and comments stop and you’re back to square 1. It’s more damaging in the long run than it is helpful.
The Brands are at fault
this industry is all so new and exciting, Influencer marketing is huge and just keeps on growing. Brands feel pressure to work with more and more influencers and are usually very last minute in selecting who they work with. One look at a feed, one glance at a follower number and BAM! ‘We’d love to work with you!’ If brands took a little more time and care into who they worked with, aligning the right people with their brand for more long term partnerships – analysing their content, demographic – how the partnership would benefit both parties etc. That’s where influencer marketing really shines at it’s best and I think the industry will get there, we just have some weeding to do before the garden can truly flourish.
What can you do?
People have been asking me recently what the best solution is if you’ve been involved with these practices in the past and want to get rid of them, the only options are to stop, revoke all third party access apps to your account, leave the comment pods and if all else fails and you feel like you can’t continue with the shady analytics that will inevitably stop you from getting to where you want to be – start fresh with a new account. If you had a genuine following in there then they’ll find you again and support your new venture.
Why do I care so much?
The people that fake their online presence set a bad example, they make it seem as though anyone can take some pictures and become a famous blogger over night – it takes years of hard work to build yourself a genuine audience and reputation in this industry.
Their content is extremely vanilla – most of the time you can tell if someones faking it because their content isn’t that appealing yet seems to be unusually popular/engaged? Anyone can take decent pictures nowadays thanks to incredible phone cameras – everyone has raised the bar in terms of ‘high quality’ content and if there’s nothing that special about an image – what makes it so interesting to everyone? The old saying of ‘ if it’s too good to be true.’ comes to mind.
I make my living by collaborating with brands – brands work with me and see positive results in terms of brand visibility and even sales – because I’m genuine and transparent to you guys and have a genuine community that I’ve grown up with. I’ve seen a lot of brands work with a lot of fake influencers, I’ve seen giveaway instagram posts where the influencer has told their audience to ‘tag a friend’ and 90% of the comments are ‘nice outfit bro’. It’s honestly so easy to spot when something isn’t genuine and if fake influencers continue to damage our reputation by having no genuine community to talk about their products to then brands will eventually turn away from working with influencers and invest their money in other forms of advertising. They’re really out there ruining it for everyone.
To sum up – as I feel like I’ve waffled on for far too long – we have this amazing opportunity where people like me and you can be creative and make a living based off our storytelling and talents. Work hard and do it for the right reasons, do it because you want to help and inspire others. If you make a living off it then that’s amazing, if it remains just your hobby then that’s ok too. Don’t try to cheat to force something as karmas a bitch and it will come back to bite you – like we’ve seen recently.
I hope this post has been useful and cleared the air on my feelings about everything at the moment – Feel free to DM me on Instagram if you’d like help or want to discuss anything further.
Also, one more thing – Is it still considered a Witch Hunt if you actually find the Witch?