Defining Digital Influencers

By Robbie Morrissey

Digital Influencing, a trend in social media circles or money earned views?

According to a list recently published by Goss.ie, we currently have a “Top 100” list of “Digital Influencers”. While many have criticised and defended the article’s criteria, should we not be worried that a list like this is relevant at all?

The list itself is rather peculiar, with most of the criteria being repetitive using terms like “’has worked with loads of big brands & “has access to Internet & social media accounts” to name a few of the regular profiling focus points.

To define Digital Influencer is tough, as the title is generally regarded as someone with a substantial following who promotes brands in exchange for product or fee. However, there has been concern that ASAI guidelines have been breached of late, with Influencers seeking payment for their presence at an event rather than attending (or not) by invite.

In a recent post by Michael Richard Corcoran, Head of Social and Content at eightytwenty, “The pool is very small in Ireland for most brands to adopt a sustainable influencer programme, but yet it is tried time and time again with the same few faces that surely offer no value for the overall objective as what you are really doing is paying over the odds for a skewed product review, PR social photography or impressions.”

He also added this on the subject of monetisation of blogs; “bloggers aim is to monetise their profile, even at the cost of a diluted message for your brand. Whoever reaches out at first and plans your influencer relations needs to scope the landscape better. ‘Influencers’ don’t care as they are happy to post or attend an event for a price, but they should!”

All of this makes for further discussion on those matters, as their impact has led to the negative use of the title Blogger also. To put it straight, Blogger should not be seen as a ‘dirty’ word in social circles. Yet it now represents a group of people who are assumed to be making lots of profit at the expense of their critical (or lack of) acclaim for a product they have been paid to promote.

Maybe ethics obscure me from wanting to be a part of that. For me there is no profit when blogging, even if sent an album or asked to review a show, the role is to apply critical and constructive viewpoints on that subject. Not to be paid to do so or be there.

Blogging should be for opinions and views, not accepting payment to make a subject look great. Profit should be reserved for advertising or at least declaring that pushing a news feature article/list is sponsored to be written in your own words, again not to convince people to try because you say so, instead to consider a purchase based on the facts and information provided.

Overall, whatever about your ‘Snapchat Kings and Queens’, the comment by Hugh Curran of Atomic said it best; “it doesn’t come close to touching on those who are genuinely ‘influentian’ on certain topics but might not have hundreds of thousands of followers. Why a beauty blogger should be considered an influencer in say a car purchasing decision is beyond me.”

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