Can You Trust The Influencers?


A couple of years ago, my social media feeds, namely Facebook and Instagram were filled with updates from family, friends (to clarify- close friends and those I haven’t seen since I was in primary school/may cross the road to avoid).
A couple of years ago, my social media feeds, namely Facebook and Instagram were filled with updates from family, friends (to clarify- close friends and those I haven’t seen since I was in primary school/may cross the road to avoid). As many of you may relate to, some of these updates are tolerable and light hearted, others you many choose to “hide posts from this user”. Fast forward two years later and my “friends” updates have depleted as oversharing has started to slow down but now I’ve acquired a feed full of bloggers. These bloggers are a mixture of ones I openly chose to follow and others that were suggested I follow based on my interests, likes and people similar to me.
Initially I was inspired by some of these bloggers, new recipe ideas, top travel tips, workout routines (I’ve been waiting 2 years for the summer abs!), mummy hacks, nutrition tips, fashion inspiration and beauty routines. I could consume and consume data for hours, filling my head with plans and ideas and challenges.  However, recently the inspiration changed to revelation… why was the working mum I admired for her hot efficiency tips now a flower expert, a naturopath advisor, yoga pants reviewer, hot car wax virtuoso, wine connoisseur, soap specialist, nutritional therapist and a beauty guru - why are you now starting to grind on me and have me question your authenticity? 
That’s a personal point of view but compounded with my media knowledge, I do know that the landscape has really changed and that blogging has now become a lucrative money making business with “professional bloggers” rampant on the scene. 
Brands, PR firms and media agencies have long since recognised the power of the bloggers – the power to influence and convince us to go out and buy the products – it is this recognition that has allowed bloggers to become professional. 
There doesn’t seem to be one perfect definition of what a professional blogger is, in a nutshell a blogger is someone who makes  a living through their blog both directly (salary) or indirectly (endorsements/promotions etc.). Some of the assumed characteristics of bloggers include – an exceptional amount of engagement on their property, a large fan base/community, blogs consistently and in some cases a blogger who has been able to move from the blogging on an online media to offline media.
Typically there is no one size fits all price but a rough rate card guideline of going rates are as follows.
Rate Card Guidelines
So, you order an Influencer (€3,000), pay the hosting charge (€2,000) and get 8,000 views (€2,400) means a potential cost of €7,400 for one single post that gains traction. 
Big-name stars like Kendall Jenner, who reportedly gets paid between $125,000 – $300,000 per Instagram post. (She has over 58 million Instagram followers).
As the old saying goes, money does talk. A blogger who may have started out genuinely interested and invested in a particular subject, pursuit or hobby may be lured into expanding their blogging repertoire into topics that they are not really interested in. Does this mean that as they grow more popular with followers and brands do they become less strategic, less honest, less trustworthy and less real? 
I have witnessed one blogger endorse the “best mascara ever” and then 2 weeks endorse another brand as “the best mascara ever” – I’m confused, has this superseded what she said two weeks ago? Which one actually is the best? What happened to a community for trusted advice, tips from simple, relatable people – like I’d get from a friend? 
Earlier this year this lack of disclosure amongst bloggers forced the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) to put new guidelines in place to boost transparency, meaning that bloggers must adhere to the same set of rules that apply to all media (As of March 2016). The ASAI code requires advertisers not to mislead consumers, not to offend them, make sure advertising is truthful and that consumers know when they are receiving marketing material. 
In this recent post of a top beauty blogger, the hashtag #spon is all that shows readers that money changed hands for it.
However, despite these new rules, loopholes and proper regulation of the expanding blogging world still exist. One exception to the ASAI rule is if no money has changed hands and a blogger receives product from a brand – the blogger is not required to flag this. Snapchat also seems to provide another loophole – where bloggers can get away without flagging it as sponsored content as stories/snaps disappear in 24hrs.
Thus the issue of transparency and trustworthiness is still at the fore. Influence is also key here, these bloggers are seen as influencers, they have people who admire and look up to them, they can with one little Tweet sell out a product in a couple of hours.  Surely influencers have an obligation to be transparent to all their followers – surely it’s just as simple as being honest about making money? #spon
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