Do We Have A Responsibility As ‘Influencers’?

Do We Have A Responsibility As 'Influencers'?

‘Influencer’ – oh how I hate that term.  It covers a wide range of people, from celebs, bloggers, vloggers and even Instagrammers.  Recently, I have started to wonder if this influence also comes with responsibility.  Do we have to take into account the age and impressionability of those who follow us?

PEOPLE DO LISTEN TO WHAT INFLUENCERS  SAY

Regardless of the size of the following, influencers do have an audience and that audience listens.  Whether you’re talking about a foundation, a handbag or even where to get your lunch – people listen to what you say.  Twitter is awash today with reactions to a certain influencer’s blog post.  A well known fitness blogger has written a post about a fertility / contraception app.  A sponsored post.  Now apparently you just take your temp, put it in the app and it will magically tell you whether you’ll get knocked up or not.

Before we even get onto the logistics and how bloody stupid this is, let’s take a moment.  This blogger has a LOT of followers and therefore a lot of influence.  Her followers will take what she says as Bible and this is worrying.  I have no issue when you’re recommending a makeup product or a dress, but this is next level stupidity.

Contraception is not something to be messed with.  I would be horrified if I’d written about something that could ultimately result in one of my followers having an unplanned pregnancy.  Seriously,  I would hope that the majority of my readers / followers had enough sense not to go off an app for their family planning.  However, we all have young and impressionable girls who follow us and this is where it gets worrying.

If an influencer genuinely believes in something, then fair enough, but surely common sense still kicks in at some point?  Taking your temperature is not an effective form of contraception and I am genuinely concerned by this.  I really hope that her readers aren’t going to take her word for this.  I’m not even going to get into the whole STI issue … wrap it up kids – PLEASE!!

Do We Have A Responsibility As 'Influencers'?

TO SPON OR NOT TO SPON – THAT IS THE QUESTION

Then there’s also the whole Sponsored Post issue – she was paid to write this post.  Yep, she earned actual money to tell her followers that an app can prevent pregnancy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people earning their dollar but do it in a responsible way.  There’s a lot of talk recently about people not supporting sponsored posts … is there any wonder why?  If you start to get paid by a brand who you’ve supported for years and genuinely love their products, then you go girl.  You write those sponsored posts and bank that buck.  I have zero issue with that, but I do have an issue when the post is irresponsible or irrelevant to that person’s blog.

Recently I have unfollowed some accounts I really loved due to the constant #ad posts.  If I follow a fashion or beauty blogger then an ad for a car company or an electrical store just seems out of place.  Followers are fickle little things and it doesn’t take much to lose them and it’s so easy to turn them off from your feed.  I love seeing bloggers get opportunities with brands they love and cheer for them when that post is sponsored.

Urban Decay want to pay you?  Well bloody done.  Jo Malone wants to collaborate with you?  Send them those bank details girl.  Earning money in this game is not easy for the majority of us, so to see people succeeding is great.  But constant pics of coffee, gadgets, and whatever else you can think of when your feed is beauty and fashion?  Sorry, but that bugs me.  Sponsored posts are fine, but keep your authenticity.  Don’t even get me started on Like To Know or whatever that crap is …

We all want what we do to be taken more seriously, but you can see why influencers get a bit of a bad rep at times.  I can tolerate the inane ads – I eye roll and move on, but contraception?  Nah girl, this is when it gets irresponsible.  Imagine if I said that rubbing a magic unicorn whilst singing the National Anthem would guarantee you’d not get pregnant.  Would you believe me?  Of course you wouldn’t, but some people will now believe an app can prevent pregnancy.  Do you really think this blogger cares if you use this and 9 months later out pops a mini me?  No, she’ll be counting her pennies and looking for the next opportunity.

SHOULD  INFLUENCERS BE MADE TO FEEL LIKE ROLE MODELS?

When I started blogging I didn’t ever think that people would listen to me or even look up to me.  I’ve never set out to be a role model and I don’t want to be one.  I’m guessing Zoella never set out to be a role model, but there’s no denying that an army of teens look up to her.  I think we really do need to be careful about what we say and what we promote.

If a blogger was promoting binge drinking or drug taking then there’d be such a backlash, and rightly so.  Yet a fitness blogger can promote an utterly ridiculous form of contraception and that’s fine. Come on now,  be honest, if your mate told you that she was relying on an app to work out when she should have sex, what would you say?  I’d personally give her a slap, lock her iTunes account and drag her to the GP for some real contraception.  Yet someone with a large following and a lot of influence is saying that it’s a safe way of practising safe sex.  Give me a break.

Even throwaway comments can be seized on by our followers and taken in a wide number of different ways.  I recently watched one of Zoella’s videos where she referred to a size 4 as ‘oversized’.  Now I know she was referring to the style of the top, but it did get taken the wrong way.  So I tweeted a little joke about how she refers to a 4 as oversized whilst I refer to 4 as how many chins I have.  It was a joke, even though I did think she could have edited that bit out.  Some people missed the humour in tweet (no worries, happens daily), and others said it was a damaging comment.

Regardless of your opinion on it, the point is that anything we say on the internet can be twisted every which way but loose.  We want these people to follow us and read our posts, so surely we should then bear them in mind when we are writing.  I’m not saying we should censor ourselves or turn down opportunities, but surely there has to be some accountability and some responsibility?   Really, I would hate to think that I had recommended something dangerous or damaging to my followers.

Do We Have A Responsibility As 'Influencers'?

DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA

Now no doubt this will all get classed as ‘drama’, just like everything does.  It would seem that we aren’t allowed to have discussions, debates or even opinions without it being classed as ‘drama’.  Personally, I’m all for opinions and think we should be able to have our views on issues.  Referring to everything as drama is demeaning and prevents people from allowing their voice to be heard.

If you do think that an app is a wonderful way to prevent an unwanted bambino, then ok.  That is your view and your right.  However, please do your research and go visit your GP.  Also, just because you follow someone, don’t take everything they say as gospel.  Have your own feelings and think things through.  We don’t have to think that everything an influencer says is the best thing for us.

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