Who is an Unfluencer? Am I becoming one?
I know I have not been writing as much, so this topic seems to be a big deal, right? What is this new word? Who are these unfluencers? It’s a fairly new word that sprouted last year (2019) attributed to the article by Marisa Meltzer The Cut. Before we actually dive into the definition, let me take you back in time to my personal story, in the time when this digital world found me.
The Role of Blogging in my Life
We find ourselves spending hours on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Social Media has a huge impact on our lives. I admit, 11 years ago when I started this blog, I was at the frontline of those pushing for the importance of Social Media for brands. Looking back, I remember speaking to huge audiences, both corporate and academe, about online content creation. I have encouraged students to start blogging and create their personal brand. I have been involved in guiding brands on how to manage their online presence.
Back then, Social Media Managers do not exist in payrolls. We were hired as freelancers. It was great to be there at the forefront of the rise of Social Media. Fast-forward to 11 years and things have shifted dramatically!
The Glory Days
I advocated for “The Good Life.” This was my mantra when I was blogging. I was a fresh graduate and I wanted to conquer the world! I did not grow up privileged, so traveling was a luxury for my family. Long story short, blogging gave me all that I hoped for when I was young: sponsored trips around the globe, tech partnerships, gadgets and products on my doorstep for review, hosting a TV show, commercials, and being featured in magazines and newspapers.
I was encouraging people to follow their dreams! It happened to me, so it can definitely happen for them. I had to risk my CPA job, dropped that, and explored the digital universe! I did not end up being super-rich financially, but I know in my heart how rich I am in experience!
The contracts, the feeling that I have become fake, the stress, the things happening on my personal life, and the anxiety of having to maintain my social media image took a toll on me. I am not alone in this and I am sure a lot of bloggers felt this as well. I may have not done a better job as some others did in managing the energy to continue. But I found myself going on hiatus from time to time.
FOMO or JOMO?
At first, I kept pushing myself because of the Fear of Missing Out. And then I got sick often, and I am not the type to do so. I am the type of person who gets sick when I’m under intense stress. And so, I had to force myself to slow down. This is where I discovered The Joy of Missing Out! I realized that I can live my life without certain things I thought I needed like going out a lot to parties and events just to stay relevant!
And then, I found myself again. Here I am now, just doing the things I love – staying at home, gaming, cooking, continuously learning, and yes – I’m still dancing!
Social Media Break
There was a time where I didn’t even browse through Instagram or Facebook. It felt great! I had time to do other things like self-improvement and attending workshops and classes again. I had time to learn new things and I enjoyed it!
And… I’m back, but not really!
I would take a peek on my different social media platforms and I’ve seen how things slowly changed! Personally, I was focused on gaming, streaming, and eSports. I was devoid of this growing Tik Tok culture! It looks fun though, people enjoy it and I’m all for it if it makes people happy! I personally don’t see myself doing that though. I think I’m too old for it, maybe, but that’s a different topic. I just think that I don’t have to be on it, just because everyone’s on it. It’s not my platform and I’m not comfortable with it. I have this thing lately, where I try to take photos and videos without filters. I think that the world is WAY TOO FILTERED! And that’s probably why I don’t like Tik Tok. It’s all filtered, with these face and body slimming filters in real-time. You really don’t know if the one you’re idolizing is the real deal.
Going back to my topic – I browsed through Instagram and I see myself rolling my eyes at some “influencers.” I realized this WAS me too. I’m not hating on them, there are a handful of influencers who are doing it right – who fight and stand for their own truth. The ones that I am cringing on are those who just look like an ad-board to me. I know, and I’m self-aware, that I WAS once like this! And this is probably one of the reasons why all of this got discouraging to me at some point. I was not proud of it anymore.
Let’s talk about Unfluencers, finally!
Okay. The real meat of this blog post are these people called – the unfluencers. Off-topic, I feel like I can make a podcast out of this because I think I have so much to say!
At first glance, I thought that unfluencers are those people exposing influencers. Like they decrown influencers. Or they try not to do the things that influencers do. It is confusing but I really thought they are the ones who shy away from doing influencer-y things. I thought it was who I was becoming. Because right now, you cannot let me promote something I absolutely don’t believe in. I avoid promoting something that is not relevant to me, but I was freelancing before and I rely on the money I get from promoting brands – so there were times where I would spread the word like fire, even if it does not mean that much to me. Again, I’m telling you this is why I felt horrible back then.
Don’t get me wrong, promoting the things I love, and getting paid for it – IS STILL THE DREAM! An example is having Philippine Airlines as my blog partner for years! I love getting invited to their events and of course joining familiarization trips to other countries. I still continue to blog and document my trips with them even if they did not sponsor it because I love traveling!
Again, back to the topic.
No one has defined with utmost certainty what an unfluencer is.
According to Marisa Meltzer in her article here, this is how she defines it.
“The person who makes me want to do the opposite of whatever she’s doing and throw out whatever I already own that she has posted about”.
Can you relate to Marisa? I know I can.
Why are people annoyed at unfluencers?
I don’t really know, so if you have your own opinion about this, I would love to hear it. Please leave a comment or a DM. In my own personal opinion though, they would promote too much. I feel guilty about this. I was doing this before. But when I felt that it wasn’t right anymore, I paused and held back.
According to the majority of the articles I read about unfluencers, it is hard to distinguish an unfluencer and an influencer because they could be really both. The criteria are hard to define because it’s all objective so it is hard to point a finger out there. You might have browsed through Instagram and you basically have your own distinguishing criteria. They may spam you with too many sponsored posts and videos, which to me is not bad. But there are those whose posts don’t sound sincere, or they don’t thrive to inspire or educate their followers. They just want to get that advert there.
What this means to brands
Because of this unfluencer phenomenon, I believe brands who are smarter have picked up on this. I see those who prefer nano-influencers, those who have 1,000 to 10,000 Instagram following. Nano-influencers’ audience are small, niched but highly engaged.
Analytics-based results such as views, clicks, and likes are very valid decision-making driving factors to get someone to promote their brands. But brands should also look into comments and reactions. Remember, authenticity is important.
What this means to Influencers
Content creators should be mindful of what they post, how they promote, and their overall personal branding. It’s nice to get dimes but without sincerity, and well-thought content, your audience, the brand, and you yourself, won’t get the most satisfactory result.
That was therapeutic. I’ve been wanting to write about this for so long. If you’re still here reading. Thank you. I know this post is too long, but I appreciate you for reading until the end.