The days of the Instagram Influencer are over. What started out as a way to earn some quick cash and free products ended up being one of the largest marketing scams in history. The era of the Instagram Influencer is coming to an end and I couldn't be happier about it.
I used to love Instagram as you could share some of your best moments. They didn't have to be perfect. They didn't have to be edited. You didn't have to worry so much about how many likes a post received. There were great suggestions on where to travel and beautiful places to see but something changed a couple years ago. Photos became so curated that the pressure to keep up with the rest of travel influencers that were drawing massive likes became immense.
For a while I even jumped on the bandwagon thinking it was a great online opportunity. What I found out quickly was just how fake it is. It's not real, none of it's real. We ended up taking some ‘Instagram worthy shots' and every moment of it was painful. Everything was staged and edited. It took us hours to create the photo and all it left us with was a cold breakfast. I tried to keep up but who has the time to spend 8 hours perfecting a post? I sure don't so I stopped posting and used Insta only to scroll the feed.
I noticed it was the same old thing over and over. The same cheesy travel photos at the same locations. Influencers filled my feed making me feel like my travel wasn't good enough or that I wasn't going to enough places. It literally made me depressed and feel like I wasn't on the same level. I knew the game was all fake but it didn't matter as I compared myself non-stop. This lead me to taking an extended break from the platform. I actually started hating Instagram along with the Influencers that were ruining it.
However, times have changed and I am seeing a turn. Influencers as the way we know them, are a dying breed. Let me explain.
Fake Photos, Fake Followers, Fake Likes, Fake Comments
The perfect photos, curated feeds, fake followers, purchased likes and bought comments are common with many Influencers. They need brands to believe that they have huge engaged followings in order to get the sponsorships. According to a report by CBS, In 2019 alone, brands will be scammed out of more than 1.3 BILLION dollars because of Influencers fake likes and followers.
Instagram Is Killing The Influencer on Purpose
Then came Instagram and everyone fell for it again. The Instagram feed was all in chronological order before they switched it to the same type of algorithm as Facebook once their paid advertising was introduced.
Influencers with already massive followings were still cashing in. In order to get them to start using paid ads, they dropped their reach to around 3-8%, but it wasn't enough to stop them. For example, an Influencer with a following of 2 million may be able to still reach 50,000 users a post and receive 25,000 likes. Influencer marketing was still alive and well, but Instagram has been cooking up a new method to take them down.
They Are Taking The Influencers Down
Instagram's algorithm update wasn't good enough as brands were still paying top dollar to Influencers instead of Instagram paid advertising. Their solution? To remove all likes from view. The test is currently running in major markets like Australia and Canada and I think we all know what's coming next. Likes will be removed Worldwide to push brands away from Influencers. In the end, as reach continues to drop even further, brands will go to Instagram paid advertising and Influencers will be left without paychecks.
For example Jack Morris, who has one of the largest travel followings on Instagram, was averaging 250,000 likes a post before Instagram changed their algorithm. Now even with a larger audience and tons of engagement, he maxes out at 100,000 likes. They have killed his engagement and soon none of us will know how many likes he receive, or even care. How did his very FIRST post get 15,000 likes? Some say he deleted his old posts. My first thought is he purchased the account and deleted the old content which was most likely memes. Don't get your hopes up of building a following of 2 million, as It's literally impossible now unless your a celeb.
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After the Instagram Updates
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Instagram Influencers Have been Accused of Scamming Their Followers
As Influencers look to establish their own brands as marketing dollars drop, Instagram users have been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example Aggie Lal of “Travel In Her Shoes” was accused of scamming almost $250,000.00 for selling a course on how to be successful like her. The problem with her course is that she wasn’t able to deliver any real direction on how to actually become a “Travel Influencer”. She didn’t even finish the course or deliver the promised content. The first assignment she gave purchasers of the course was to go and recruit one person to also buy her course. Really?
She has recently made a public apology and stated the course was interrupted due to “poor wifi”. With $250,000 I could have taken a private jet to get good wifi.
Instagram Influencers are Creating a Fake Perception of Life
Recently, Instagram Influencers have been guilty of creating photos of travel destinations that look completely different from reality. Filters and editing apps used to make photos look spectacular at popular destinations have left many travelers dissapointed when actually seeing the insta-famous destination in person. Nomadic Matt who was one of the original Travel Bloggers commented on the rise of Instagram Influencers to Travel Off Path.
The most harmful yet has to be the editing of bodies to look absolutely “perfect”. The young generation is growing up see Influencers setting impossible expectations of what beauty is. Recently, big brands like Victoria's Secret have come under fire for their marketing tactics that sexualize females or market the “perfect female body”. The same thing has started with Influencers. Everyone is tired of “perfect”.
Generation Z Hates Curated Instagram Influencers
If Instagram doesn't kill off the Influencers totally, then Gen Z will. The post-9/11 generation is completely over your artfully staged perfection. “Every trend has a shelf life, and as quickly as Instagram ushered in pink walls and pastel macaroons, it's now turning on them,” stated Taylor Lorentz of the Atlantic.
“While Millennial influencers hauled DSLR cameras to the beach and mastered photo editing to get the perfect shot, the generation younger than they are largely post directly from their mobile phones,” Lorentz writes. “In fact, many teens are going out of their way to make their photos look worse.”
The future of Instagram looks bright. A new age of Influencers are rising, and they don't place all their value on the perfect body image, curated photo's and an aesthetic feed. It allows us to be ourselves and post freely without the pressure of trying to compete. The one thing I know is that the days of Instagram Influencers as we know them are over. It makes me happy to come back to Instagram and be able to start posting again.
Would I call myself an Influencer? The way I was sharing photos on Instagram before wasn't helping anyone. Now I teach people about how to travel, share relevant news that could affect their plans and give tips that actually make a difference on their journey. I want to help people be excited about THEIR lives, not envious of mine.