On November 29th, Deborah Ross of The Times wrote what can only be described as a SCATHING article about influencers which began like this;
"I have a dream. It is not a big dream. I am not Martin Luther King. I only do dreams on a small scale, so it is a small-scale dream and my small-scale dream is this: might there be any way we could do a find and replace on the word “influencer” so it is replaced by “detestable freeloader” wherever it appears? So we all know what, in fact, we are dealing with."
Yikes. To add to the drama-fest, YouTuber and Blogosphere's Influencer of the Year 2018 Melanie Murphy has responded.
We have to say, Murphy makes some noteworthy points;
Starting off her 13-minute YouTube video with a cool "Okay Deborah, calm down", she proceeds to explain the hypocrisy behind Ross' points with a level of clarity which is hard to deny.
Ross essentially slated influencers in her article, describing them as 'detestable freeloaders', essentially people who deserve to be hated because they receive complimentary items and give nothing in return.
Murphy responds by issuing the point that the media in general is funded by advertising and marketing, for example, on the bottom of Ross' article had a sponsored post, without which the article possibly would never have been read.
Promotion and marketing absolutely surrounds us, from celebrities such as David Beckham for Adidas, Beyoncé for Pepsi, Justin Timberlake for McDonalds, Jessica Simpson for WeightWatchers, Brad Pitt for whatever cologne he's feeling that day, Julia Roberts for Lancôme, Hannah Witton for PlayStation, Holly Willoughby for Marks & Spencer etc etc.
It's inescapable. However, just because they receive free objects doesn't mean that they give nothing in return.
The issue which Murphy takes with Ross' article is the sheer hypocrisy as well as the generalisations which she makes. She places every influencer in the same category, when many of them promote noble causes such as LGBT+ charities and organisations, cruelty-free and paraben-free beauty products, health foods, nutrition, sexual health organisations, disability and accessibility rights, chronic pain activists, and more.
Jameela Jamil's i_Weigh movement has become hugely successful, and empowers people to weigh themselves on their overall worth as a person rather than their body mass index. Jamil suffered from an eating disorder for years, and now uses promotion and Instagram to create a unified group of people who value and respect themselves. She also is a major campaigner for banning airbrushing.
Melanie Murphy claims that every successful creative has the support of brands behind them, and receive freebies. Many of them self-fund their projects, and use the money for other causes, others simply give away any freebies which they receive.
Murphy also points out that just because they gain complimentary products does not mean that those people aren't extremely hardworking. Many influencers balance their life online with their family and a side-job.
"95% of what I show, what I wear, I pay for myself," she claims. Through advertising and word of mouth, companies can use influencers for their branding, but this doesn't undermine the level of thought which goes into choosing which brands to work with.
Murphy works with Always pads to talk openly about periods, Barclays, who sponsor Pride, a show which explores bisexuality, PicMonkey, Wella for hair dyes which work against allergies, Holland and Barrett for cruelty-free health and nutrition products.
Numerous influencers and their agents are hugely picky about who they work with, the brands must make sense for the influencers for them to collaborate with them.
"I'm always so bloody proud of my paid-for content, always. The money these brands pay me enables me to write a novel and work on more artsy things like short films which I invest in myself but don't get money back."
According to the Youtuber, the media wouldn't survive without branding and advertisements. From YouTubeads to websites, podcasts, radio, television, newspapers and magazines, advertising is saturated in our industry.
For Deborah Ross to call followers of influencers 'morons' is entirely unfair, from Melanie's point of view;
"Under-researched drivel such as this which contributes to the negative rhetoric that surrounds bloggers and influencers, thousands of hard-working people. Some of which juggle a family or another job."
Many believe for Ross to declare that influencers have done nothing to merit this lifestyle is flawed and reductive, Murphy herself demonstrates a great engagement because of how she chooses brands to work with;
"I never try sneak anything in, I'm never shady. I am lucky and I'm very grateful, I don't swan around."
Lastly, Murphy places emphasis on the fact that YouTubeis a community which supports one another, they collaborate and shout each other out and lift each other up. In the journalism industry, there is minimal collaboration and no support between competing publications;
"You sit and write and you get aid to do that, there was a time where people would scoff at your job and say that that's not a real job. We actually support each other. You're not going to see The Times supporting an article from another publication."
She describes the loneliness which perpetuates society, and how YouTube can be used as escapism, or for self-help, for comedy, entertainment, advice or even just to connect;
"A lot of people are lonely and it's a beautiful thing to be able to connect with people through words through a lens. Families are smaller, the Church has collapsed, community has gone to shit. I feel like through my monthly blogs I encourage people to connect with their real-life friends and family"
As Murphy points out, building a following of thousands or millions doesn't just happen for no reason.
'Detestable freeloaders' aren't just empty vessels of advertisers; they're entertainers, they're singers, actors, writers, comedians, models, creatives, editors, lighting experts, agents and so much more.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, Rosie said she didn't blame the ASAI for their ruling, but did agree when asked if she felt they made her an example.
“Yeah, I do. I think they have to I suppose, that’s their position," said the blogger.
“Back when it happened I actually explained my position and how it all came about. I wasn’t going to relive the whole thing again when they came out with the ruling.
“But yeah, I don’t blame them for it. I think that’s just the way it goes. There are plenty of people who have broken rules or done things that were frowned upon by the ASAI but obviously my complaint was upheld, that’s fine.”
The ASAI’s Complaints Committee stated after they chose to uphold the decision, that:
“All involved in the production of marketing communications that care should be taken so that the use of pre- and post-production techniques did not mislead about the attributes of the product being advertised.”
It will be interesting to see if further complaints of this nature will be ruled in the same way, and how that could impact the Instagram bloggers and brands who sponsor them.
It’s that time of the year again – bloggers and celebs hit Palm Springs for the second stint of the Coachella Weekend this weekend, and the jealousy inducing Snapchat stories and smug pics are now clogging up our Instagram feeds.
However, Coachella doesn’t seem to be all it’s cracked up to be, and by looking over the surface, it seems it is more about celebs keeping up appearances.
For upcoming bloggers and celebs it seems as if Coachella is not just a music festival but an opportunity for them to build their following and also make key contacts.
Coachella is nothing like your standard Irish or UK festival.
Yes, the line-up is fantastic, with this year’s Coachella giving the stage to names like Beyonce, Eminem, The Weeknd and SZA. However, the whole vibe of Coachella seems to be more about blogger branding than the actual music itself.
Every year our favourite celebs and bloggers attend the star-studded festival, where their followers seem to multiply as a result of those pictures in front of the famous ferris wheel.
In fact, Irish blogger Louise Cooney hit the 100K mark this weekend while at the festival.
The whole festival seems to be selfie central and more about the fashion and posing than enjoying the music on offer.
Many celebs and bloggers including German blogger Masha Sedgwick have commented that Coachella is just an overcrowded, huge platform to see and to be seen, simply because everyone is there.
At Coachella you can’t drink alcohol freely while swaying over and back to your favourite songs.
If you want to drink alcohol you have to go to specially designated areas away from the festival grounds where you can only get one drink at a time. Sneaking in drink is not an option either as there is security everywhere and you are searched multiple times while entering the festival.
It seems the music is second priority for not all but many who attend Coachella, and it is more about posting on social media platforms showing “look at how much fun we are having” than actually having any fun.
Celebrities are there to be photographed by paparazzi and bloggers are there to be noticed or photographed by fashion magazines and style blogs.
The hope to pop up in a magazine under “Coachella style” certainly comes at a price – over $500 dollars to be exact – and that's just for the ticket.
Coachella seems to not be a music festival in the real sense of the word, where care free people come together in the mud to celebrate music, but only acts like one. Coachella provides a festival- like experience but without the reality.
Many bloggers make the money back on the ticket by wearing sponsored clothes, and working with co-operations which may make some a profit.
Festivals are usually a fun experience, however Coachella seems to be more about endless hashtags and pictures being uploaded onto Instagram – almost like an assignment.
If you are going to Coachella to catch a glimpse of some famous celebs, forget about it.
Most of the time celebrities don’t even go to the actual festival but chill out at Lacoste and Mulberry pool parties instead in secret locations nearby.
While everyone is moaning about how jealous they are about not getting to attend Coachella, it seems that it is a festival to show off and build a following as opposed to what the reality of a festival is.
This week it was alleged that online media publication PopSugar stole and repurposed 'millions' of pieces of content created by independent bloggers.
The content in question was uploaded by each individual blogger with corresponding affiliate links through LIKEtoKNOW.it and RewardStyle, programmes which allow bloggers to make a small commission when users click through their content and purchase an item through the apps.
According to Fashionista, it is claimed that PopSugar removed the affiliate links from the content, and re-uploaded them to the site using new links through which PopSugar made a profit.
Beyond livid right now. I barely make anything from @rewardStyle as it is and I’m a very small blogger so to find out @POPSUGAR stole 354 of my images to profit off of infuriates me.
'As an influencer myself, I am fully aware of the investment required to create original content and it was disappointing to see more than 1,800 of my personal images displayed on PopSugar.com, stripped of all RewardStyle commissionable links and instead monetized by ShopStyle affiliate links,' RewardStyle Co-Founder and President Amber Venz Box told Fashionista
'Our legal team continues to review the matter and we will circulate updated communications once we're able.'
Some bloggers are claiming copyright infringement for the use of the images without consent, and others are voicing their disgust at the repurposing of the content for profit.
Suzanne Jackson has broken her silence following the recent controversy surrounding the authenticity Irish bloggers.
Earlier this month, anonymous Instagram account @bullshitcallerouter accused some of Ireland's top influencers of misleading their followers through the use of filters and photoshop.
The page, which attracted thousands of followers overnight, caused quite the stir online and prompted a number of influencers to rally together to create a campaign against online bullying.
In an emotional statement posted to Instagram last night, Suzanne said she felt compelled to address the issue after she and her family were left distressed after false accusations began appearing online.
"I am a firm believer in remaining positive and not letting myself be affected by negativity," the statement begins.
"On this occasion, I feel I have to speak out for myself and reassure you, the true, supportive caring followers, that a lot of what is been written or posted online is untrue.
"Unfortunately being in the public eye, it has its ups and downs which I accept. You take the good with the bad. But I will not allow people to force untrue information onto my followers. It’s not only extremely upsetting for me but also my family and team."
Other speakers include Instagram star Eimear Varian Barry, Conn Ó Muíneacháin of Blacknight Solutions, Jenny Taaffe, the CEO of iZest Marketing, Youtuber Rob Lipsett and Sue Jordan of It's Cherry Sue will all be on hand to share their stories, insights, top tips and advice with attendees, along with many more.
They will be sharing helpful insights into how they have grown their brands across various social media platforms.
Blogging has become one of the most covetable careers in the modern world, but it's not all about schmoozing at press days and taking pretty flat lays.
Bloggerconf 2017 is in the works, and as Ireland's leading conference for bloggers, influencers and digital creatives, it's a must-do for those hoping to improve their content and meet other like minded creatives.
The conference gives up-and-coming bloggers the chance to chat and mingle with established industry professionals, and it gives aspiring influencers the chance to connect with one another in the real world.
There will be a menagerie of successful online stars who will be giving talks on the day, and if last year's conference is anything to go by, there will be some seriously interesting topics covered.
Instagram star Eimear Varian Barry, Conn Ó Muíneacháin of Blacknight Solutions, Jenny Taaffe, the CEO of iZest Marketing, Youtuber Rob Lipsett and Sue Jordan of It's Cherry Sue will all be on hand to share their stories, insights, top tips and advice with attendees, along with many more.