Why I don’t like the term “influencer”

Why I don’t like the term “influencer”

Generally, I’m not one to get caught up on words but “influencer” just doesn’t sit right with me. Every single time I see it or hear it, I can’t help but cringe.

I have no issue with people who use it. I hold nothing against people who are influencers. It’s the word itself which I can’t get comfortable with. It exists, it’s a thing, but I wish it wasn’t.

Call me a blogger. Call me a content creator. Just please don’t call me an influencer.

I’ve been trying to identify why it bugs me so much. It’s unusual for a particular word to wind me up. Aside from obviously derogatory words, they usually don’t get under my skin.

So, I had a think and this is what I’ve come up with.

Firstly, it is thrown around a little too often. As with any word where this happens, it starts to lose its meaning.

I’ve had (lovely and amazing) readers take my recommendations and run with them. I’d love to think people see me as authentic and honest. I hope they understand I only share things I believe in. But, I’m nowhere near having the online presence to be an influencer. Yet, I’ve received emails which have contained this term in reference to myself.

As far as I’m aware, when you take everything else away, it’s purely a marketing style. This term relates to bloggers who work with brands and showcase their products to their followers. It’s essentially a job title. That, right now, is not me.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I understand it is a dream for some people to be called an influencer. So, I know I should probably be happy about it, but I guess I don’t feel like I’ve earned it. It’s hollow and meaningless when it’s being dropped into the emails because it’s become a blanket term for bloggers, regardless of their current position.

I have been blogging for around 4 months. Referring to me as an influencer simply because I have a blog seems a bit unfair to those who grafted for years to get to where they are.

I definitely don’t – and never could – see myself as an “influencer.”

Even if, in a year or so, my blog is booming, my social media has exploded and I’m getting lots of opportunities, I’m still not going to see myself as an “influencer.” It’s not what I’m about. It doesn’t match up with my personality. The idea of me influencing anybody is almost comical to me. At a stretch, I would perhaps call myself a guide, gently encouraging people to take a certain direction.

It’s one of those words which I’d feel like an idiot for saying, and that’s on me. I simply can’t picture a day where I have the confidence to feel comfortable saying “I’m an influencer.” It seems like too powerful a word.

Given the fact there are days when I can’t decide what to wear, or what to have for lunch, the notion of me influencing anybody else’s decisions amuses me. It’s not to say I’m not capable of it, but it’s not a natural fit.

I think it’s quite insulting, to both the creator and to the audience.

For the blogger/social media extraordinaire, I don’t think it shows the work which goes into what they do. I can picture conversations where it’s like this:

“I’m an influencer.”

“Oh, right, so you just get paid to play on Instagram?”

Not that blogger is particularly much better, given how easy people seem to think it is. You get the point, though, I’m sure.

Then it makes their audience sound like sheep who will follow wherever this person leads. In reality, I know it means they trust and respect the person but applying the term influencer to someone gives them a certain level of power. Let’s face it, it has, and will be, abused.

I care about the people who read my blog, and I appreciate everything they have done for me so far. When it comes to them parting with their hard earned money, I want to be safe in the knowledge it’s beneficial for them. I see my audience as friends who want suggestions. There are bound to be influencers who feel the same way, but the term strips away that aspect of things for me. It seems very one-sided.

As for what I’d prefer to be called, I have no idea. I don’t necessarily have a better alternative to “influencer”, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I understand bloggers have worked hard to cross the line into being influencers, and I’d never begrudge them of it. It’s just not for me. My attitudes will never line up with the connotations of “influencer” and I’m okay with that.

Why I don't like the term influencer

50 Comments

  1. 3rd September 2018 / 11:06 am

    I love this! It’s all so true. I often feel like also the word ‘influencer’ is taken and torn apart in the media by people who don’t understand what the work really involves, and becomes almost an easy insult. When in reality, although creating content can be a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of work and quite stressful and shouldn’t be demeaned, especially in this social media age

    Cordelia || cordeliamoor.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      3rd September 2018 / 11:16 am

      Yep, you’ve hit the nail on the head! I think it’s such a shame it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

  2. 3rd September 2018 / 11:11 am

    I totally agree. I was saying this a few days ago. I really don’t like the term influencer at all. It makes it seem like we only create content to manipulate people in to consumerism. I’m a blogger. I’m a content creator. I have a modest social media following but regardless of numbers, Influencer is a label I will never aspire to.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      3rd September 2018 / 11:17 am

      Exactly! My main concern is people enjoy my content – anything else along the way is a bonus.

  3. 3rd September 2018 / 11:14 am

    Im like you. I blog because I enjoy it, I film because I enjoy it. I do what I do because I enjoy it. Not because I necessarily want to make it big, or I want people to look up to me or follow what I do. I don’t want to be an influencer either. I just want to do what I love without adding the pressure to be an influencer to my audience. Loved the post Ruth! xx

    http://zoe-ware.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      3rd September 2018 / 11:19 am

      I think that’s the right attitude to have and it shows when you enjoy what you do! 😊

  4. 3rd September 2018 / 11:33 am

    Completely agree with this! I have to admit, I do cringe every time I hear the word ‘influencer’. Nothing against people who identify with the term, it just makes me feel a bit uncomfortable – it’s all my own issue haha!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      3rd September 2018 / 11:44 am

      Exactly! I know it has more to do with me than anything else 😂

  5. 3rd September 2018 / 12:38 pm

    LOVE this post.
    I totally agree with this, I am a blogger. I may occasionally work with other creatives, and brands, but I am still a blogger. I do all of these things ON MY BLOG. If I have any influence over your decision making, that is fine, but it is merely a side-effect of me writing about how much I have liked something!
    I like content creator though. I’m ok with that one!

    As for words that make you cringe, I loathe (with great passion) “sewer” [how did you read it?!] a word in common use these days for “a person who sews” otherwise known as seamstress, dressmaker etc, my personal choice if you’re going to use one of these weird new words would be “sewist”.
    Sewer. It just reminds me of drains. If someone says it, I think drain. I can’t help it!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:23 pm

      I quite like content creator, too! Seems a much more accurate description of what we do.

      I haven’t come across this in that context, but I definitely read it as “sewer” as in drains 😂 I’m glad you’ve explained or I’d probably come across it in a Twitter bio and think “what?”

  6. 3rd September 2018 / 12:45 pm

    I think I’ve become so used to just seeing this word about the place that I’ve never really stopped to think about how I feel about it. But, I really get your point. It does feel a bit hollow. Like, it doesn’t really convey what you actually do, your presence, your story behind everything or you as a person.

    This post just goes to show how humble you are lovely. You do help people (and me) immensely! I’ve taken on board tonnes of your recommendations and I look to you for advice probably more than I should (sorry) but after reading this I feel personally, that you are more than just that title, you’re Ruth! xxx

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:24 pm

      Awwwww, you are so lovely! There’s no need to apologise, I’m happy to help! 💜

  7. 3rd September 2018 / 2:21 pm

    Another great post Ruth! I agree that the word is used a lot now without meaning. It’s such a shame but hey content creator sounds so cool! keep up the good work x

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:24 pm

      Content creator is definitely much better! Thanks, Hannah!

  8. 3rd September 2018 / 2:43 pm

    This is such an interesting topic Ruth! Whenever I hear the word “influencer” I immediately think of fashionable Instagram girls but never me. The word itself sounds very businesslike, I much prefer the term Content Creator as it sounds more relaxed and less pressured. I totally agree with you, I’m happy to share what I love on my blog and if it inspires someone then that’s awesome, if not, that’s totally cool too. It’s your blog, so it can be whatever you want it to be. Great post lovely, thanks for sharing your thoughts <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:26 pm

      I’m the same way – a certain type of person always pops into my head and I think, “well that’s not me and it’s not going to be!” I completely agree about content creator, it has a much better vibe to it! x

  9. 3rd September 2018 / 3:16 pm

    Interesting perspective Ruth! I never thought of it that way. I just assumed if your making recommendations you are essentially influencing people, therefore you could use the term “Influencer” to describe yourself. But as you said, there are actual Instagrammers who make a living partnering with brands who deserve the title more!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:27 pm

      That’s true, and you’re right, you are influencing people in some sort of way! I don’t think there’s any harm in using it if you identify with it, but I think a lot of people use it without really knowing what it means, if that makes sense?

  10. Sheila Anderson
    3rd September 2018 / 4:22 pm

    Perhaps enabler is more suited to you Ruth. You enable people to make choices, you enable them to share their experiences, you enable them to feel as though you are on their side. You enable them to know their not alone in their anxiety or dpression. Enabling people to find their power they have with in themselves to change their direction. So I would say enabler fits. PS my pet hate word is empowering people to …… we enable people to utalise the power they already have to reach beyound what they thought possible!!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:28 pm

      Very good point! 😊

  11. Simon Thacker
    3rd September 2018 / 7:17 pm

    This reminds me of a journalist on a student newspaper (when I was at university) who was once referred to as an ‘uber-hack.’ I felt the same way about that term, namely that it was pretentious, overblown and frankly, rather silly. Don’t get me wrong, I feel about blogging as you do. I’ve had mine now for three years (where did the time go?) and people have told me they’ve enjoyed stuff I’ve written – the content I’ve created, so to speak – and that’s awesome. If I’ve turned people on to things they wouldn’t otherwise have thought about, then that’s great. But I don’t believe that makes me an ‘influencer.’ It makes it sound as though bloggers are in the hypnotism business or something! Plus, I think there is an issue of market saturation. Unless you are very lucky or determined, it’s hard to make a living just from blogging. I suspect there are far less ‘influencers’ out there than people might perhaps imagine. The main thing is that you are happy with your content and that you get positive responses from the people who visit – that is by far the best yardstick upon which to judge your efforts.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:29 pm

      Beautifully put, Simon!

  12. 3rd September 2018 / 7:41 pm

    I completely agree with this post. I feel like I like to celebrate people’s differences and encourage people to make their own decisions about things, so being called an ‘influencer’ doesn’t really sit right to me. Like you, I might gently encourage or guide people to change their minds about certain things (like discrimination), but I wouldn’t say that was necessarily influencing someone, even though I know that really, it kinda is. I guess, like you, the word just really doesn’t sit right with me. I much prefer content writer, like you mentioned further up in the post. It’s what I’ll use to refer to myself as if people as what I do for a living.

    Rebekah Gillian | https://rebekahgillian.co.uk/

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:31 pm

      Exactly, Rebekah! 😊 I know, really, it’s what we do in some ways, but I just can’t imagine a time and place where I’m comfortable to describe myself in that way.

  13. 3rd September 2018 / 8:09 pm

    Very true Ruth. What makes someone an influencer anyway? Do you need a specific number of people following you on networks to be deemed socially acceptible? The contestants on love island list themselves as social media influencers when all they do is take photos of themselves half naked and brink. That ain’t my style 😂 glad to see you back and I hope you had a nice break x

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:32 pm

      😂 So true! It might be easier to understand influencers if they had some sort of job description and definition, such as following numbers. It might stop people throwing it out there whenever they feel like it.

  14. 3rd September 2018 / 8:40 pm

    Great post topic! I’m in this boat with you. I think in its original meaning, the term “influencer” was kind of a noble thing, but it’s taken a life of its own as a career in itself, which is strange. There are all sorts of things people can influence and platforms to influence from and influencing just for the sake of influence. Personally, if I influence anyone to be anything, I hope it’s my daughters to grow up to be thoughtful, good people. And if others take away anything from the content I create and share, I hope it’s something they can use for good. 🙂

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:33 pm

      Very true. I do think it’s one of those situations when it’s been turned into something else through misuse and overuse. I’m sure your daughters will turn out wonderfully. 😊

      • 4th September 2018 / 2:41 pm

        Aw, thank you! ☺️

  15. 3rd September 2018 / 9:42 pm

    I agree! I hate the idea that somehow being good at blogging makes you someone whom people blindly follow. I would hope that the people who follow my blog are discerning and take my words as opinion, not necessarily fact. I still feel strange recommending anything that I get money from the recommendation. There is a part of me that just wants to tell my readers: I really wouldn’t recommend this if wasn’t obsessed with it myself because it works really well. Of course, that sounds just like what a salesperson would say.

    I used to work at LOFT and would feel strange when I was very friendly with a customer and they bought a lot from me. I worried that I might be abusing my ability to make people feel good about themselves by selling clothes to them. My roommate who worked in marketing had a very good point though. We are fulfilling a need. We are experts in certain things, and, our recommendations may actually make someone else’s life easier.

    I hold on to that while I still struggle with affiliate marketing. I hope my readers view me as a friend who has tried things out for them so that they don’t have to deal with trying many different things until they find something that works.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:37 pm

      I’m right there with you! I only recommend things I use and/or believe in, and couldn’t bring myself to do it any other way, but it’s hard to put that across without it sounding like sales patter. I think, as long as you are honest and authentic, people will understand and appreciate that. It’s becoming easier, in my opinion, to identify who’s pushing for the money, and who’s genuinely sharing things they think are helpful to their audience.

      I like your roommate’s point and I’ll need to keep it in mind, too, as I sometimes struggle with the affiliate marketing side of things (which isn’t too great when you’re trying to make a living from blogging 😂)

  16. 3rd September 2018 / 9:53 pm

    You know, I have felt the EXACT same way about this word for as long as I can remember! I know it’s just a word but I feel like it just completely demeans all the hard work us bloggers actually do. I get that being an Instagram promoter can be hard work too but blogging is a hell of a lot more effort with so many more elements to it. I started up my blog to write and share my passion, not to “influence” people into buying products. And I too only promote things that I really like and believe in, despite collaborating with brands and being gifted things. This is a fab post and something I’d definitely like to write my own take on eventually!
    Alice Xx

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:38 pm

      It’s weird because normally, I don’t think twice about words because that’s all they are, but this one just bugs me so much. It did even before I started blogging myself, and now the feelings have got more intense. 😂 I’d love to see your post with your thoughts on it, Alice!

  17. 4th September 2018 / 5:18 am

    Love the post Ruth and couldn’t agree more. It annoys me when yourubers use it. Puts an unnescasary ego to people. It’s okay to be influenced by someone but that’s on the person viewing as an individual. Great post x

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:39 pm

      Thanks Jay! I agree about the ego thing, and I think that’s part of where my issue comes from. A lot of people who brand themselves as influencers are very arrogant about it and I don’t like it.

  18. 4th September 2018 / 8:20 am

    I feel the exact same way. Influencer is marketing speak, used by brands to make us fit the mould of making them money. It turns blogging into a money game, which it really isn’t. I also agree that it feels a bit over-zealous, I’d feel a bit self-righteous calling myself an influencer.

    Megan // https://pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com/

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      4th September 2018 / 12:40 pm

      Exactly! It has a tendency to overshadow all the other great things about blogging, like how it can connect people and be a valuable hobby for more reasons than money.

  19. 4th September 2018 / 1:34 pm

    I am right there with you on this! The term is being used very loosely and I hate that people think they actually ‘inlfuence’ the masses and that they are so important anything they say or suggest will be blindly done by their followers 😛
    xo
    Anastasia
    http://www.natbees.com/

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      5th September 2018 / 9:48 am

      Exactly! I’d never even want that to be the case – I love the idea of people taking my advice and suggestions on board, but if they want to research other options which might be better for them personally, I’m totally cool with that.

  20. 4th September 2018 / 9:05 pm

    I’ve never really put much thought to it before, but as I was reading this post I completely resonated (is that the right word? It sounds right, but I can’t tell 😂) with everything you were saying! I don’t think I’d ever class myself as an influencer as it’s not something I feel is really me. I might give opinions and reviews, but I’m not trying to influence anybody to do anything. I’m so, so happy if people enjoy my content, and if I can inspire them with my words that is amazing, too. But “influencer” just doesn’t feel right for me!

    Beka | http://www.bekadaisies.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      5th September 2018 / 9:46 am

      I think resonated is the right word 😂 I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way – seems there’s a few of us!

  21. 5th September 2018 / 1:03 pm

    I understand your cringe toward the word. I sometimes wonder if influencers even like the term, in the sense it has such a strong meaning. To influence someone would hold a lot of responsibility and I would worry so much about getting it wrong or letting people down. I see nothing wrong with advertising a product or brand but I think there is a way to show choice and advice whilst doing so.
    Kate x
    http://www.katesbeautyhome.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      7th September 2018 / 3:15 pm

      You’re probably right – there are probably plenty of them who have been stuck with the term and don’t necessarily appreciate it. I completely agree with you, though, I’d be so worried about letting people down!

  22. 6th September 2018 / 12:14 am

    Ruth you always write deep. I enjoyed your analysis on the term influencer because for the longest I couldn’t figure out while I don’t like the word either. I would literally revise all my bios on social platforms to remove the word because it just didn’t sit with me. LOL!

    Reading your post, it now makes sense. I like to think of myself as a guide too, it just sounds a bit more like ME.

    Natonya | http://www.justnatonya.wordpress.com

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      7th September 2018 / 3:29 pm

      I’m glad I managed to help you figure it out! I had to really sit and think about it because every time I saw it on Twitter, I got the same feeling, so I decided to ask myself “what’s going on here?” 😂 Thank you for such a lovely comment, Natonya!

  23. 25th September 2018 / 8:02 am

    Ruth I agree, I don’t know what it is but I absolutely hate that word and can’t ever imagine using it for myself in the role of blogger – and cringe if others use it with reference to me, or other bloggers using it for themselves. And yet I recognise how it may be the truth. I know my friends are the major influence in my life because I trust and respect them, I watch movies and read books that they mention or like, I join groups and societies they attend. In a way blogging is similar in that if you follow a blog, it’s because you like and trust the person or the ethos or something and you are likely to take note of their opinions and suggestions. In that way you have become influenced by their choices. I prefer to think of it was word of mouth marketing though. I think that sounds less pretentious.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      25th September 2018 / 10:35 am

      That’s a very good point. It is true, but as you say, it sounds quite pretentious to announce it 😂 I hadn’t heard mouth marketing before!

  24. 1st October 2018 / 8:33 pm

    I can totally get on board with this, but like you, I dont know what term I would use instead. “Influencer” to be sounds powerful, but also very generic. Maybe I think of myself more as a social writer, or contetn creator, who knows!

    Abi | https://whatabigailsays.co.uk/

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      2nd October 2018 / 11:19 am

      Social writer is quite a nice one! I suppose it doesn’t matter too much, but it just trips me up occasionally when people ask.

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