Over the past several years, social media has become less personal and more professional. The rise of influencers and other social media celebrities paved the way to a new form of income. Following YouTube, Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms of our decade.
The social media side hustle craze set in when the money-making potential of YouTube was realized. At first, the platform was dominated by individuals who made videos for fun. Now, more and more YouTubers start channels for the purpose of fame and income. In a way, social media is becoming less personal and, therefore, less genuine. Profit has become a greater priority than sharing information and creating communities.
Instagram is now no different than YouTube, and is filled with social media celebrities and influencers. Unfortunately, the Instagram influencer community has built a reputation of being more “fake” than other social media platforms. From pretending to be on vacation, to pretending to be rich, to photoshopping the entire photo until nothing is real, falsifying photo’s has never been easier. Instagram influencers’ ability to manipulate their reality with a photo and feeding off of likes and comments from those who compare themselves to what isn’t real has given them a questionable reputation. Influencers, especially those on Instagram, also often get hated on for promoting products such as appetite suppressants.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of people who strive to be a good influence on their audience. Take the fashion and style influencer community for example.
As someone who’s entered this community with no clue how and where to start my journey and only a dream to guide me, this community has been supportive and encouraging from the start.
Fashion is self-expression, and in the fashion community influencers support this and more. Fashion influencers inspire the larger community with styling videos, outfits, How-To’s and more. They don’t stop at simply posting content. They engage with each other and those who follow them, liking their posts, giving “shout outs” to influencers who inspire their style, and uplifting others with support and encouragement in the comment section. I have never seen one influencer bring another down in this niche. I quickly realized that your biggest supporters can be those who you don’t know personally.
As humans, a sense of community and connection is vital for our social health. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, this physical closeness and connection with others disappeared, leaving many of us lonely and struggling to cope. Influencers became crucial in helping the world maintain its mental and social health.
The role they play is in not only promoting a product like most people think, they also create communities, become role models, and become someone for people to look to when they need a distraction from their own lives. Not only that, influencers uplift and encourage others within their communities.
Indeed, there are Instagram celebrities who match the negative stereotypes, creating the illusion that being an influencer is as easy as posting pretty pictures of yourself. Still. there are still those who rose to fame through hard work and commitment. Emma Leger is just one of many Vancouver based fashion/style influencers. Like others, she started from square one and paved her own path. She started with a fashion blog alongside posting her outfits and fashion journey on Instagram. Her commitment to content-delivery (posting on a regular basis) contributed to her growth. Eventually she began working with brands, which is how influencers make money from social media. Emma’s dedication led to her large audience of 300,000+ followers and a full-time job as an influencer.
Each influencer’s story is unique. Some start as bloggers who do it for fun, some start on Instagram, posting pictures for fun, and others start on different platforms such as YouTube. If you aspire to be an influencer, there is no guide to follow. You just take the first step and keep walking.
The first and most important step to growing a social media platform is to answer one very simple and very personal question: “why do I want this?”
When I began my journey in March last year, I was still working on answering this question. I asked myself this question so many times that it became my purpose.
Why do I want a platform? Why do I want to influence others? Though my answer is very personal, I can share this: I want to be known so that I can inspire, bring together, and create a community.
Being an influencer isn’t as easy as it may seem. It’s essentially a job and takes time, commitment, and dedication. When looking at others, remember to not overlook the hard work that goes on behind the screen.
A lot of what an influencer does is planning and creating content, organizing the feed, scheduling posts and stories, engaging with other influencers and followers, reaching out to brands, and coordinating brand deals.
It’s easy to underestimate the effort it takes to grow a platform. We now live in an age where social media has transitioned into an online portfolio or an income for some. Although this shift has taken away the personal aspect of social media, it has replaced it with communities and the ability to connect with more people than we would meet in real life.