The Truth about Instagram Beauty Influencers

What are the disadvantages that outweigh the benefits of becoming a beauty influencer on social media platforms such as Instagram?

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Beauty influencers on Instagram experience a vast amount of disadvantages that are not visible prior to getting into this “fun” hobby. The constant pressures, the unpaid workload, the loss of identity, the lack of authenticity, cyberbullying, and the invasion of privacy all are unseen at first glance. These disadvantages outweigh the benefits that beauty influencers first see, prior to getting involved with this hobby.

Introduction

Social media has been a part of many people’s lives for a while now. Millions of users scroll, like, view stories, and interact with each other through online networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Everyone now a days wants to become famous on social media platforms and become a big influencer. As a beauty influencer, it is important to gain trust from your viewers, as you are providing them with your honest opinion. Popularity is also vital to gaining trust with your audience; the more followers you have then the more credibility you are given of your perceived opinion. Specifically, as a beauty influencer, certain brands approach you to promote their products to your audience. This only comes along to influencers who are well liked by their followers and have a solid base following. For beauty influencers, they may promote all kinds of products that fall in the following categories; make-up, hair, nails, and fashion. It is important not to mix other products relating to other categories such as fitness, health, etc. as a beauty influencer. You also want to accept products that you can rely on and recommend to your following audience.

Beauty influencers provide vital information for specific brands when they promote the companies’ products. Influencers also tend to receive free products just to give their honest opinion about the product. Sounds fun right? This has caused a lot of individuals to become interested and wanting to build their brand as well. However, not only are ordinary people interested, but as well as investors and large companies, “The huge online influence of Internet celebrities, which can be strategically used as an effective marketing tool, has aroused both marketers’ and investors’ interest” (Xu). This idea with using beauty gurus to promote their products is causing more companies to jump on board.

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Beauty influencers not compensated

Now that there is some background information about what makes a beauty influencer trustworthy to their audience, as well as to big companies and brands that reach out to these types of influencers, we can now focus on the disadvantages of this form of digital labor. The disadvantages tend to be overlooked by the benefits, as more people are dreaming to become a beauty influencer. “In 2014, beauty was the fourth-leading industry with the largest reach of influencers in the United States” (Forbes 78). As beauty influencers are becoming more and more popular in the 21st century, it is clear that people are showing interest in this type of potential career. However, individuals aren’t seeing the cons of this type of labor that they are getting themselves into, “Not only are beauty vloggers flooded with emails regarding sponsorship offers, they are also emailed consistently with offers to buy subscribers, followers, and views for their social media content” (Weinzimmer 121). However, not all sponsorships are paid sponsorships. You are putting in a large amount of work; in most cases your work is not equivalent to what you are paid.

Our analysis revealed that these social media personalities circulate an interrelated series of mythologies about “work” in the age of social media, invoking the ideals of fun, authenticity, and creative freedom. Yet, such patterned narratives conceal the less auspicious elements of this work, including the demands for emotional labor, self-branding labor, and an always-on mode of entrepreneurial labor, all of which function as prerequisites for attaining these coveted proto-careers (Duffy, Wissenger 2).

Not compensated and loss of identity

Looking at the benefits that are clearly visible as a beauty influencer, “workers routinely cast their professions as work that does not seem like work; instead, it is portrayed as a hobby they would pursue even without financial remuneration” (Duffy, Wissenger 6). With this hobby of posting pictures or creating videos on instagram, the underlying stressors are overlooked. As an influencer, you are working much longer hours than a 9–5 job, “People think blogging is a great way to leave the nine-to-five behind, but I probably work many more hours than most people in office jobs”(Duffy, Wissenger 10). Applied pressures to look a certain way can cause for the influencer to loose themselves as well, “…the success of the Influencers hinges on their own taste and credibility. McQuarrie et al (2013) accordingly showed how Influencers’ conscious selective choice of text, images, and style led to the accumulation of social capital” (Abidin, Ots 154). Influencers tend to see other influencers do things a certain way and change themselves. This means the beauty influencers you look up to may not be as authentic as you thought.

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As beauty influencers loose their authenticity, we can see how strategy to become on top in the instagram world comes into play. Social media influencers depict what their audience sees, and sometimes what they display is not credible information. According to Audrezet, Kerviler, and Moulard, SMIs should be cautious to report the reality of the partnership and the product in their WOMM contents. Similarly, they should keep producing noncommercial messages about brands they are really passionate about.” Beauty influencers are honest at the beginning, as they gain trust and a good reputation, that’s when things change. The beauty world on instagram is booming as competition is fierce, “since Instagram changed its algorithm to give more visibility to popular posts” (Duangkae).

Many influencers are good at convincing their audience to take their word, “by using positive terminology, such as ‘excited’, ‘amazing’ or ‘success’ in their captions to reiterate their support for the product or brand, along with positive body language” (Duangkae). What makes it even more believable, is when the influencers apply the product through a tutorial and swear it is something that they love and will continue to use. What happens when you no longer see the product in use? It is like beauty influencers switch up from so many different products such as mascaras, face cleansers, make-up brushes, and etc. They swear all of them are their favorites, when they only need one set of each. When a brand gifts a product to a beauty influencer, they will most likely give a five star review and talk about the item to possibly be endorsed and compensated in the future. (Jensen)

As this very popular photo sharing site, Instagram has established into a network and commercial exchange amongst its users. It has created many jobs and hobbies for influencers. However, as influencers loose their credibility, what will they do next? Instagram isn’t a guarantee forever, as views, likes, and followers drop.

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Cyberbullying

Beauty influencers come in contact with a lot of trolls and have to take on cyberbullying, cyberabuse, and cyberstalking. (Todd) This is what comes with being online, and as an influencer you experience more and more of this on a daily basis. As you can imagine the horrible comments and threats that influencers encounter, this is something people don’t think of at first glance when entering the influencer world. This “emotional labor” have disappointing consequences, that requires you to grow a thick skin and ongoing awareness about your specific audience. (Khamis, Ang, Welling 193) Is working for “free” worth the emotional trauma? What happens to those who can’t handle the negative comments? These are questions that arise when thinking about the severity of cyberbullying.

An influencer is an individual who has the power to influence the purchasing decisions of others because of his / her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his / her audience, who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. These individuals are not simply marketing tools, but rather social relationships assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their marketing goals (Jalba).

As you see from the above quote, it is important for influencers to actively engage with their audience. However, when comments get out of hand, most influencers have to disable their comment section. (Todd) This means that nobody can comment under the influencers content. This also doesn’t look too good for brand deals, however, it is best to maintain your sanity.

Depression is a huge factor from cyberbullying; many beauty influencers are undergoing something mentally behind their smiles. “Before her death, Gradon had openly shared her experience of negative comments on social media, claiming that it contributed to her depression and anxiety” (Bolat, Gilani). Influencers’ mental health is destroyed by the ongoing hate comments and trolls.

I do feel … when I post something and it doesn’t get many likes I do think about it, get frustrated and run around to get ideas. I check other influencers’ content and then think-rethink what if my followers will not like it or think I am not funny. Some comments I get are so hurtful. It is like in relationship. There are good and bad days I have with my followers (Bolat, Gilani).

Lack of privacy

As beauty influencers deal with unwanted online trolls, they also deal with something that is even more serious than that. Harassment and invasion of privacy is something that beauty influencers have to deal with. (Deb, Donohue, Glaisyer 13) They are putting their lives out there online and tagging their location in each of their photos. It is easy for random people to find where they are located and they can easily target them. Influencers take the risk everyday when they post images of themselves. While trolls remain anonymous online, beauty influencers are known self branders, whose identities are exposed through a large platform of people. (Abidin) The safety of these influencers are put at constant risk, as they promote themselves telling their audience which future beauty events that they will be attending. They want to meet their fans, but that is where they risk their safety. While internet bullies tend to be bravest behind a screen, there are a select few that are bold enough to do it face to face. (Weber)

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Normal grocery trips or a night out at the movies becomes a hassle the more known you are. You aren’t treated as a person anymore, but more so as an object, as people just want pictures and videos with you, “fans seek to take away a souvenir of sorts from these encounters. At best, they acquire an autograph or a photograph” (Ferris 28). While it is hard to distinguish between fans who admire you and stalkers who are creeps, that is a constant fear that influencers have. You never know who you are going to come in contact with and when you do meet a fan or supporter, you never know their intentions. “Some media fans, few of whom would consider themselves stalkers, engage in practices designed to bring them into close personal contact with the celebrities they admire. They challenge the boundaries separating reality from fantasy, audience from performer, fame from mundanity, fan from celebrity” (Ferris 28). Unfortunately, when individuals sign up to become a beauty influencer, they are signing away all their rights of privacy as some people do become obsessive and do what is necessary to meet you. (Ferris 19)

Conclusion

In conclusion, beauty influencers disadvantages outweighs the benefits of this unpaid labor. These disadvantages include; the constant pressures, the unpaid workload, the loss of identity, the lack of authenticity, cyberbullying, and the invasion of privacy that are all unseen at first glance. This matters because mental health and privacy are both important and with this “fun” hobby, you have a greater risk at loosing both. It is vital for future beauty influencers to research testimonies of current or past influencers before getting into this hobby. Also getting into this, you will definitely need thick skin to survive.

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Abidin, Crystal. “Aren’t these just young, rich women doing vain things online?”: Influencer selfies as subversive frivolity.” Social Media+ Society 2.2 (2016)

Abidin, Crystal. “Victim, Rival, Bully: Influencers’ Narrative Cultures Around Cyberbullying.” Narratives in Research and Interventions on Cyberbullying among Young People. Springer, Cham. 2019). 199–212.

Abidin, Crystal and Ots, Mart. / “Influencers Tell All? Unravelling Authenticity and Credibility in a Brand Scandal.” Blurring the Lines: Market-driven and Democracy-driven Freedom of Expression. Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research. (2016): pp. 153–161.

Bolat, Elvira, and P. Gilani. “Instagram influencers: when a special relationship with fans turns dark.” (2018).

Deb, Anamitra, Stacy Donohue, and Tom Glaisyer. “Is Social Media a Threat to Democracy?.” Omidyar Group. https://www. omidyargroup. com/pov/2017/10/09/social_media_and_democracy (2017).

Duffy, Brooke Erin, and Elizabeth Wissinger. “Mythologies of creative work in the social media age: Fun, free, and “just being me”.” International Journal of Communication 11 (2017): 20.

Dungakee, Sararin. “An Examination of the Commutation Strategy Undertaken by Beauty Influencers on Instagram.” Digital Marketing Communications (2018): Web.

Ferris, Kerry. “Through a Glass, Darkly: The Dynamics of Fan-Celebrity Encounters.” Symbolic Interaction 24.1 (2001): 25–47. Web.

Forbes, Kristen. “Examining the beauty industry’s use of social influencers.” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 7.2 (2016): 78–87.

Jalba, Rima. “If and how are Instagram’s top male makeup influencers shifting the beauty norms & beauty representations in a female oriented industry.” (2018).

Jensen, Lauren. # Ad–Influenced by an Influencer? An exploratory study of how Influencer Marketing is used by beauty brands in Norway. MS thesis. Nord universitet, (2018)

Khamis, Susie, Ang, Lawrence, and Welling, Raymond. “Self-Branding, ‘micro-Celebrity’ and the Rise of Social Media Influencers.” Celebrity Studies 8.2 (2017): 191–208. Web.

McQuarrie, Edward F., Jessica Miller, and Barbara J. Phillips. “The megaphone effect: Taste and audience in fashion blogging.” Journal of Consumer Research 40.1 (2012): 136–158.

Todd, Paula. Extreme Mean : Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online . Mississauga: Random House Canada, 2014.

Weber, Nicole L. Cyberbullying : Causes, Consequences, and Coping Strategies . El Paso: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC. (2014). Web

Weinzimmer, Lauren. “Online and In the Spotlight: A Critical Analysis of The Beauty Vlogger.” (2018).

Xu , Xu, and Pratt, Stephen. “Social Media Influencers as Endorsers to Promote Travel Destinations: An Application of Self-Congruence Theory to the Chinese Generation Y.” Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 35.7 (2018): 958–972. Web.