My love/hate relationship with influencer marketing and social media

This post is written by our co-founder, Viv Yau. Find her on LinkedIn.

There are two slightly varying versions of me. A work version and an at home version. Some people suggest taking the The Myers Briggs test twice if you want to conclude your work personality separately from your ‘at home’ traits.

Similarly, I feel the same about influencer marketing, or just social media in general. ‘At work me’, lives and breathes influencer marketing. I could talk about the wonders of influencer marketing for days, educating clients, pitching campaigns, debating with other industry professionals. Improving the reputation of influencer marketing. I love seeing other brands/agencies new campaigns. I like how we are learning constantly, with new platforms, ever-changing regulations, trends that may not actually be trends. It never gets boring.

The ‘home’ version of me can sometimes feels very differently towards social media. I’m not talking about fake influencers, or bad brand deals. It’s when it seeps into my personal life.

I ‘big sigh’ at young girls I know who post slightly scantily clad photos of themselves on Instagram. With their profiles on public for anyone to see.

I don’t like hearing about how many followers someone has on their account. I really don’t care from a personal capacity. This doesn’t and shouldn’t determine someone’s self-worth.

I get frustrated when some of my younger cousins come to me asking whether this fashion brand who’s auto-commented on their latest photo saying ‘We love your post, DM us to become an ambassador!’, is legitimate or not.

I get slightly annoyed when I’m mid conversation with a friend, and I can see their eyes glance down at their phone as they get distracted by a Snapchat notification. In the same vein, I get annoyed at myself for doing the exact same.

I worry when I see how my baby cousin’s are so obsessed with YouTube (I feel like I could do the Baby Shark dance backwards, whilst doing a head stand) and how this affects their attention span in the long-term.

This type of social anxiety isn’t uncommon in our industry. Nor should it be ignored. Look at the likes of Matt Haig, his book Notes on a Nervous Planet talks about how modern life feeds our anxiety. It’s a very prevalent topic. I’ve seen first hand working with top talent how social media can severely impact mental health.

Naturally my job focuses involves spending so much time on social media. So I’m hyper-aware of the amount of time I spend on my phone/laptop. I’ve made small changes to help me re-address the balance between keeping inspired in this industry versus social media burn out.

  • Turn off Push-Notifications. I’ve turned off most of my social media notifications across Whatsapp/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. This has undoubtedly helped my anxiety and dealing with social media overload.

  • Mute Posts/Story button is your best friend. I’ve unfollowed/muted anyone that could be potentially damaging to my mental health. I encourage anyone to do this - don’t forget that you’re in control of what you see on your feed. if you have ever felt that ‘grass is greener’ feeling whilst looking at someone’s perfectly curated Instagram feed, just unfollow or mute them. If you’re worried about a person knowing you’ve unfollowed them, then simply muting their posts does the trick as they won’t be notified of this. It’s surprising how quickly you can forget someone exists by doing this.

  • What Sparks Joy? I follow accounts that ‘spark joy’ for me (are we still obsessing over Maria Kondo?) David Cyril is an 86 years young Lancashire man documenting his Slimming World journey on Instagram. His posts are so pure and innocent that I can’t help but smile when I see his images pop up. I also love All That Is She. A creative husband and wife duo who pour in their heart and souls into creating cleverly constructed and inventive content. These account makes me smile and it’s the type of content I want to see more of.

  • Get off your phone before bed. There are countless studies/reports about how being on your phone right before bed isn’t good for sleep. I try (but sometimes massively fail) to read books or listen to podcasts before bed, rather than endlessly scrolling/watching content.

I also remind myself of all the good that has come from this industry. I’ve worked with charities such as CoppaFeel & Stand Up 2 Cancer, RSPCA on influencer campaigns to help raise awareness. I have seen first hand the incredible impact this has had; from mind-blowing amount of donations raised, to lots of people turning up for a worthy cause, to witnessing behind the scenes the amount of effort poured into high level production campaigns pulled together from talent management agencies, charities, influencers, and production companies.

I was slightly cautious about writing this post, for fear that people might think I don’t actually like what I do. But actually, I’m only human. I work in a fast-paced industry, how can this not affect my mental health in some capacity? It’s important to recognise this, and continue talking about it.