Unfollowing Unfluencers: The Importance of Authenticity in Social Media.
Like any true Millennial, when I scroll through my Instagram feed, I see memes, pop culture updates, lots of puppies, and of course, influencers. Whether it’s a participant from the Bachelor, a YouTube star, or an entrepreneur turned motivational speaker, their Instagram is a highlight reel making life look glamorous while promoting the must-have products of the moment.
Meet the UnfluencersSometimes, these Instagram stars are encouraging me to buy a weighted blanket, offering inspirational advice, or sharing recipes for a healthy dinner. But every once in a while, I see an influencer who just doesn’t resonate with me. Whether it’s because they’re promoting a workout and meal plan that not even an influencer can sustain; giving a sneak peek into their spotless, all-white living room; or sharing the 12 books they managed to read in October on their overly-edited Instagram feed; something about their unattainable lifestyle makes me want to hit that unfollow button. And this is where we meet the Unfluencer. While the role of an influencer has evolved since the introduction of social media, from the start, anyone with a few thousand followers on a social media platform can be considered an influencer. Today, the role has created a new subsection of influencers called “Unfluencers.” These are the influencers who lack authenticity and incite an unfollow or even a hate-follow. Unfluencers might be the people promoting “Flat Tummy Tea” like it’s a product they swear by. Their Instagram feed is made up of mostly ads and sponsored content for all products and services, regardless if it is relevant to the followers. The unfluencer is driven mainly by revenue and status. Follower interests are low on their list of priorities. In the end, this all boils down to inauthenticity; one person’s unfluencer can be another person’s influencer. What may seem authentic to me or what resonates with me, may seem inauthentic to someone else. This is why many people, especially Gen Z, are gravitating towards microinfluencers. Microinfluencers have the ability to focus on a niche subject, allowing them to more easily deliver content that will resonate with their followers. The online social scene is transforming, but it seems like the job title “influencer” is here to stay for a while. In order to climb the not-so-corporate ladder, it’s important for influencers to strike a balance between bringing in revenue and creating an authentic online presence.
Authenticity in 2019Authentic influencers post content that aligns with their brand. But in late 2019, there are many more facets to authenticity, and the degree to which these facets matter may vary between followers. In an industry that is facing seismic changes and is ever-evolving, many influencers struggle to maintain authenticity and stay true to their brand. With that said, what are the keys to authenticity or at least, what resonates with me as an avid Instagram scroller? To me, an authentic online presence includes:
- Sharing real life moments | Between the advertisements, partnerships, and promotions, I want to see pieces of this person’s real life, including the mistakes they make and the imperfect content.
- Recommending products they love and that work | I want this Instagram follow to mean something, to be like a friend recommending their favorite winter boots or summer dress to me. I want to see products from reputable stores and websites where my friends and I would buy from.
- Believing in the companies they work with | Does this person care about what they’re selling me, or are they trying to get me to buy a VIP ticket to the next Fyre Festival?