The Rise and Fall of Digital Influencers
Image Source: The Blonde Salad
The term 'digital influencer' could be applied to a variety of individuals and brands. From celebrities who market themselves through their digital presence, to long established press whose engaging commentaries thrive online. Yet there is a specific kind of digital influencer whose authenticity and shelf life is called into question: the fashion blogger. Press aimed to tickle the intelligentsia play with the notion - or the fact, as some have sworn - that the demise of the blogging business is looming. Notably, they focus on personal style blogs; the kind that are loathed and loved in equal measures for their owners' blatant penchant for well-packaged self-promotion. Admittedly, with the punchy one-liners and the statistical references comes a hint of envy, but could it be that these articles are actually on to something?
The practice of predicting this waning appeal is getting to be as trendy as blogging has become - or once was. Unfortunately, the relevance of this objectivity has given certain individuals ammunition. It began as subtle disapproval in the form of style icon and Editor-In-Chief of French Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt, openly stating her dislike of "the fashion blog fad" in Porter magazine. More recently, the comments of some American Vogue editors created a catalyst that resulted in a full-blown digital scratch off. A few years ago, the intensity of this highbrow disdain would have marked the end of the 'fad.' Nowadays it appears our devotion to the annoyingly addictive phenomenon is not so easily shaken. Some have been quick to point out that established press is just scared of the competition. With good reason: through persistence, originality and passion digital influencers have managed to gain the trust and adoration of the masses. Some of the crème de la crème of the digital world are not absurdly wealthy business moguls or long established brands. They are just effortlessly stylish youth who happen to be living the dream. Case in point: Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad (pictured above).
But make no mistake, blogging is hard work. It requires patience, as well as faith in yourself, your content and your audience. It can be a lesson in swallowing humble pie. If your ego needs to be schooled in taking a hard look in the mirror, take up blogging. The constant process of creating content itself - from coming up with a great idea and pitching brands, to having the confidence to lead a team and finally putting your thoughts forward to the online world - is a nerve-wracking and truly humbling experience. So building an audience of loyal readers is not just a case of having a pretty face. Some influencers, like European It Girl Kristina Bazan, are even selective about the brands they collaborate with. Others forego payment for 'advertorials' all together, like talented creative Margaret Zhang. It is this use of integrity and inner strength that truly keeps the viewers happy. Besides, building a following can be a long, arduous process.
If blogging is so powerful, albeit now so commonplace, how can there be doubt regarding its longevity? It's dismissed as the least noble of the style-centric professions in the industry (making it a bit of a stigma in the media's eyes - particularly where journalism is concerned), while simultaneously being embraced by the masses, the all-too-crucial consumer. But darker allegations circling the world of digital influencing threatens this loyalty. There are rumours of social media superstars buying their way to the top and whispers that some bloggers don't even bother to pay taxes, due to the 'freelance' nature of their work. True or not, this sort of talk is bad for business indeed. Perhaps interference from organisations like the ICPEN, who are enforcing laws regarding the authenticity of blogger endorsements, will help to ligitimise the business of digital influencing? The more it is seen in an official light, the longer a shelf life it is likely to have. After all, every profession has its rules.
It's not likely that the public's appreciation for a relatable muse, when armed with intelligence and originality, will dwindle to a barely registered double tap. Admittedly, some 'influencers' will fall off the radar, not having the je ne sais quoi to combat over-saturation in the field, increasingly demanding brands and clued in readers. Yet the very reasons that some have listed for the failure of the blogging community - lack of ethics, authenticity and originality - are potentially the same reasons why digital influencers may just be able to ride the storm. That is if they view these obstacles as challenges for improvement and not as signs of failure. There is no such thing, just an opportunity for growth. Pun intended.
This post first appeared on View Avenue
By Patricia Yaker Ekall