I hear and see that a lot – journalists who want to bring more scandals to their readers write another “shocking” post about “another bad SMI” (social media influencer) who they “caught” doing something wrong. As a result, some may think that you are unethical, entitled, overpaid, disgusting, and what not. Undoubtedly SMI are viewed through a very narrow lens.
1. It’s not anyone’s business
Of course, you and I know – it’s not anyone’s business what content you are providing to the community YOU are building. Or at least anyone’s business except for the people who are part of that community. Someone external may not understand the context and what you are trying to do.
If you are a SMI, I want you to know: this phenomenon will not stop. That’s how it’s going to be, for a long time, for many reasons.
However, I do have some ideas for you on how to respond, and how to be more immune to, as well as how to prevent, those attacks. Here:
2. Educate: Influencer is…?
It’s shocking, after so many years, people (most journalists too) don’t understand what SMI are.
They still think that SMI is something in the “lifestyle” category with photos that cut off right out of Vogue magazine, leaning on her hand in a “sexy” way. This – of course – is rubbish, and can’t be further from the truth.
Most of you – the SMI – are famous, BUT not to the public, but to your own community (you know, those that come – voluntarily – to visit your feed daily). Plus everyone of you is focused on a different niche, not nessasary beauty model category.
And so – explain that everywhere you can. We need people to understand that, and education is part of your job.
3. Educate: You are Human…
SMI are just people (and even behind a pet post there is a human there writing and producing…).
Explain that like everyone else, there are SMI who do good and creative things, working hard, and… those that don’t. It’s not that hard to understand…
Remember: 50 followers with great relationships can make someone SMI (see this). Of course just as with other people, SMI can be bad or good…
4. The hated word “Influencer”
Also, accept that the word “influencer” can be a hated word and consider using other words so people give you a chance! Look at below for alternative word, and as you can see, the writer of this column choose “SMI”!
5. Lead by Example
Show them examples of various SMIs – photos can really tell the story, something like that:
However – it’s better if YOU be the example, YOU show them that you are not fake, don’t have fake followers, and don’t do endorsements for anything you don’t love!
The market is messy today because we are so early, but we’re big believers that in 10-20 years, the notion of becoming an influencer will be as normal as becoming a journalist.David Sokolow (@trywefind). Source: https://www.dearmishudad.com/not-all-influencers-are-bad-fake-overpaid-evils/
6. Educate: making money for a living
SMI are making content for a living, most of them are students, mothers, or regular people that need to pay their bills and loans. That’s how they make it.
Let people know what you do and how hard you work (I know – you work every day, sometimes through the nights, but…do they know it? Demonstrate with visuals).
If you take yourself seriously, and charge a fee to what you create, the world will take you seriously too. Insist on getting paid for your work – after all, you need to pay your bills, loans, food, child-care.
7. Educate: Small business
SMI are small businesses and are as essential to the economy as any other small business.
By now economists agree: small-businesses are essential to national GDP and growth. So much so that the government encourages small businesses with loans and other incentives.
SMI are the new small-businesses, they are the OXYGEN of the new Internet economy. They are not just teenagers as you would believe from the coverage of the phenomenon. They’re ‘mom and pop’ operations and many are people who make their living (or provide much needed supplemental income) by working days and nights, for hours, cultivating their Instagram/Twitter/TikTok/Snap accounts and they are very energetic entrepreneurs. This new kind of entrepreneurship is open to anyone and not only is there nothing wrong with micro-influencers, but they are a source of inspiration, as small business owners.
8. Unite with others
It might help a lot if you’ll join other SMI to bring the message. You can sing together, making a group interview to the media, or write a blog post of that topic.
For example I joined Neal, Lee and David (we were 17 total) in writing this article: Not all influencers are unethical, fake, or overpaid… Dear Mishu & friends tell it like it is.
9. It’s Ok to look for Love
10. Go private mode
Many SMI turn their social media accounts to private as a way to screen out the noise, scandal-seeking journalists, shaming, etc.
It’s actually a highly very recommended solution, if you want to keep the peace AND be very selective, like a VIP club!
That’s it for today, 🍻 for YOU, my heroes!
SMI* = Social Media Influencers