A couple of things happened online this week here in the New Zealand ‘blogger/influencer’ scene that really got me thinking about what it means to be ‘working’ in this online industry that is built upon…..um……nothing really. Nothing but a bit of talent and if talent is lacking then a fake-it-til-you-make-it approach is oft adopted, fuelled by the ever-burning fires of FOMO. I’m being facetious of course, some platforms are built upon talented writing, some on beautiful photographs, some are built purely on the personality of the influencer or how cute their kids are or how monochrome/colourful/boho/on trend their house is, but, whatever it might be, it’s a curated persona.
People, the public, consumers of digital content, are adept at forgetting this fact.
The blogger/influencer might swear up and down that their online presence is NOT a curated facade, but, don’t be fooled. Curated might be as on-trend as ‘on-trend’ itself is, but by its own definition, to curate means to select, organize and present. And every, single one of us that has a blog, an Instagram account or a Facebook account curates, to some degree what we share and what we don’t.
This is neither a positive or negative thing, it simply is what it is. This is all fine and good until commercial relationships come into play, which is what we’ve seen happen in New Zealand in the past two years. When the measure of one’s online ‘success’ or worth is measured by the new social media yardsticks of ‘reach’, ‘engagement’, ‘followers’, ‘unique views’, ‘CPC’ et al, people, aka Content Creators lose their shit.
And they generally do it in one of two ways;
They become addicted to the game of chasing numbers, chasing followers and lose sight of any ethical boundaries that might impede their rapid growth,
They become all about ‘That List’. The obsession with the receipt and consumption of everything on offer from brands, PRs and agencies becomes like crack and FOMO (fear of missing out) leaves pride at the door as the desire to be on ALL the ‘Lists’, at ALL the events and receiving ALL the media send-outs takes precedence.
Both are gross and both are in complete contrast to the messages that are bandied about on our beloved social media of ‘Women Empowering and Supporting Women’ and the cutesy meme of the flower that doesn’t compete with the flower growing next to it – yadda yadda.
Money, influence – real or perceived – and free stuff changes everything.
Any industry has its slightly unsavoury side – the seedy photocopy room with the flickering fluorescent tube that gives you a headache if you stay there too long – you know those places right? I feel like the NZ social influencer industry is teetering on becoming such a place unless we all clean up our act, and it’s not a huge ask, but perhaps quite an important one if we collectively want these digital opportunities and relationships to bloom and grow.
I’m not going to tell anyone how to behave but I thought I’d share a few standards, within which I try to work;
- Keep your head down. The easiest way to get distracted from your work is to obsess about what everyone else is doing. You have zero control over someone else’s behavior, content, contacts or whether they’re going to heaven or hell. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do what I need to do, let alone factoring in time to keep a watchful eye on the other mummy bloggers of New Zealand!
- Just do YOU. If your thing is writing, then write. If it’s vlogging or Snapchat or Insta then fly high visual bird! You don’t need to have your fingers in ALL of the pies – especially if you’re not a very good cook. Work to your strengths and focus your energy there.
- Be kind. New Zealand is a small, small place. Auckland is even smaller. A smile goes a long way and costs you nothing.
- Be grateful. Look, the amount of free (WONDERFUL) product getting couriered up and down the country by brands and PR’s is fucking staggering. WHO CARES IF YOU DON’T GET ALL OF IT?! Entitled attitudes are yuck and people will notice and remember, I guarantee it.
- Be humble. If all of this is built on those social metrics then that’s not a lot to base your self-worth on. Being generous with your time and showing respect and kindness to others in our industry will set you in good stead when the next Insta-fave comes along and knocks you off your perch.
I would love your thoughts on this friends and bloggers. We’ve come a long way but there is so much work to be done in this very virgin, uncharted industry, and I am committed to this space and seeing my blog grow in the years to come. If that’s as a micro-influencer then so be it, but I’ll be a damn good one and one you’d like to have a coffee with too, hopefully!