My Favorite Influencer Totally Made Me Do It

“Until you realize how easily it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.” – Evita Ochel

Recently I overheard someone speaking with a friend of hers who left corporate America to be a full time photographer. Bravo!

A photographer of “influencers” in Charlotte.

Say what?

Let’s set aside the whole influencer thing for a few paragraphs, and focus on the fact that someone was able to quit their job, just to photograph people in front of lame parking garage doors or waiting for the lite rail train they don’t actually ride or on the 10th floor of my building, not in Paris, not in London…but in Charlotte, NC.

Think about that for a minute.

The club floor here seems to be a popular spot for photos of people who don’t actually live here to…you know… influence…including a Yelp Elite party that happened just this week!

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* photos courtesy of @novelstonewallstation instagram feed.

What a cute new cami…it’s probably, totally, her favorite. Click the link in her bio, and you can have this cami too! You can totally live this amazing life, and go to this pool…or not…if you don’t live here. But get the cami anyway, ok babes! Smooches!

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While there are many things here I will never claim to understand…the word cami included… the major question I have is: what value does an “influencer” add to the world?

She didn’t design the cami… she didn’t make the cami… she likely doesn’t own a clothing shop… she likely doesn’t have a fashion or art degree…what makes her an expert in cami’s or anything else for that matter?

This also brings up the difference between thought leaders and influencers. A thought leader is someone who, in my eyes, is an expert in their field. They write. They give keynotes. They get paid for their knowledge on a subject. They do research. Not because they have a half million followers that may or may not be verifiably interested in what you’re hawking, may or may not have been paid for… etc etc etc.

For influencers, acquiring followers is a strategic goal, not a byproduct of being good at something. They aren’t providing any value, in actuality.

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One of my favorite memes….

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get paid to wear some new shoes and snap a couple pics of me laughing with my best girlfriends at brunch…avocado toast anyone?… but we can’t all be influencers…can we? What’s the goal? If we are all busy influencing each other, collecting our free products and going on our free trips… who will go to work to make the products and provide the services?

It would seem to me that the overarching reason for the success of the “influencer” is that the millenial-ish generation doesn’t trust Corporate America. Fair enough. Nor their advertising. Right there with you. They don’t trust a model or a sports figure who may be “on the take” and doesn’t actually use a product. They do trust their “friend”…using that term loosely… on instagram who just had the best acai bowl down the street on the way to hot yoga.

What doesn’t seem to be translating however, is that this person is still not an expert… this person is still “on the take”, save some actual product reviewers who are professionals, pay full price, etc etc.

When does it end? At what point are there so many influencers, so much paid content, so many paid followers, so little actual expertise on any subject, that none of it matters any more and becomes worthless?

Just a few questions from an idle Sunday. Comment below. I’m off to buy a new cami.

See you on the journey…

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