Influencer Culture: Ditching the ‘fake’

Influencers. Anyone can be one. The loose definition of an influencer is an individual with at least 1000 followers with an above average impact on a specific social media demographic. But with platforms like Instagram being flooded with self proclaimed influencers, how does the average person differentiate between hard working entrepreneurs and those that are ‘fake famous’ and lacking credibility?

True influencers certainly wield some power. Brands are no longer in full control of their products; influencers are connected to increased consumerism and, like a modern day infomercial, can showcase a product and increase sales better than the company’s own marketing team.

But times are changing. The average consumer is more savvy and cause-oriented. And while followers may still be willing to buy products that are ‘advertised’ on social media, they are increasingly seeking recommendations from credible sources and have become more aware of polished influencers who are more concerned with the currency of ‘likes’ and the false pretences of perfection than celebrating authenticity.

During the pandemic, influencers with an underscore of privilege were dragged for being tone def. There became a greater emphasis and support on mental health. And as hair salons were shut down and grey roots took hold, the idea of perfection became less attainable and better understood as nonsense. Kendall Jenner, for instance, faced backlash for posting her elaborate birthday party at the height of pandemic restrictions. While Selena Gomez this week earned praise this week for posting a body positive Tik Tok and declaring that ‘real stomachs’ are back.

While the early days of social media’s blurry photos with dim lighting and a basket of laundry in the background are long gone, audiences are definitely more aware now that images and lifestyles portrayed online are done so with massive help from pro cameras, quality lighting and editing software.

So, while anyone can be an influencer, the key moving forward may be to ditch the fake and embrace the real. Audiences will feel good about taking recommendations from a brand they can trust and they’ll breathe a collective sigh of relief when another stubborn grey pops up.

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The Evolution of Social Media

Since it’s inception, the changes to social media have been almost tough to keep up with. From the early days of MySpace (if you’re old enough to remember Tom it’s likely time for a wrinkle cream) to the number and size of the platforms we use daily and often hourly now, social media has transformed at an accelerated pace.

‘MySpace’ Tom. Photo credit:

In 2005 about 5 % of American adults used social media compared to 72 % in 2019. Over the course of those fourteen years and up until present day, social media has evolved from a mechanism for personal relationship connections to direct information exchange to a virtual gathering place to a retail and revenue machine to perhaps the greatest marketing tool.

Longstanding sites like Facebook and LinkedIn were created and designed before the invention of Smartphones. With smartphones and mobile apps we’ve seen the rise of Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok.

With these advancements in technology and increased choice we also have new found concerns around identity theft and privacy issues.

Additionally, trailblazers like Facebook continue to see a massive decrease in new and young users because they’re now considered outdated and uncool.

So, what does the future of social media look like? It’s challenging to predict, but it’s a good idea to keep apprised of changes as they come and the opportunities and challenges they pose along the way. Some suggest that a possible change may be the option to divide friends and followers into groups in an easier and clearer way. This could potentially increase the amount of content that users post, since it might be easier to hide a night of partying from co-workers or a same sex relationship from Great Aunt Betsy.

Another option may be paid subscriptions. I get it, you’re wondering why anyone would pay for the use of social media when it’s always been available for free. But it’s an opportunity to get away from annoying advertisements and may be worth it to some. (Think of the success of Spotify and Apple Music as an example, when free radio is still readily available).

Ultimately, there seems to be an appetite for getting back to what social media was meant to be in the first place, an opportunity to build on personal connections. Watch for advances to audio and video capabilities for better and clearer ways to engage with friends and loved ones.

What are your thoughts? How do you think social media could be improved?

3 responses to “The Evolution of Social Media”

  1. Martin Avatar

    I think that the evolution of social helped by the fact that is easy to find and connect with people over the world and it has help businesses with finding customers and has helped many people with finding friends and making new businesses and ways for buisness to connect to the consumer and make products best as possible and making information available to everyone possible.

  2. georgia232323 Avatar

    I feel like social media used to be a lot more personal. I see a lot less people using their own words, and a lot more sharing quotes, or photos that were taken by professionals. Some of this is interesting, but part of me even misses the drunken overshares that used to be everywhere!

  3. Elizabeth Del Rizzo Avatar
    Elizabeth Del Rizzo

    I love this blog! And I do remember Myspace! Long time wrinkle cream user here!
    I too am interested in seeing how SM will evolve over the next few years. It seems it is happening at lightning speed.
    I remember encouraging my mom to sign up for Facebook and she has now connected with friends back in Northern Ireland from the all girls school she attended in the 1950’s!
    Thanks for the laugh!

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Social Media: Does the Good Outweigh the Bad?

Welcome to 2022, where the spread of misinformation on social media is rampant. What makes this especially troublesome is that 86% of adults report getting their news from their smartphone (Suciu, 2021). The spreading of ‘fake news’ is problematic given the ramifications associated with serious world issues like politics (the outcome of elections, for instance) or public health (COVID 19 and vaccines).

Here’s where things get muddy:

First, it is impossible for tech companies and social media platforms to police all content. Identifying misinformation is a struggle and essentially impossible.

Second, the very concept of monitoring and policing content is a fine line that relies largely on the definition of free speech.

We’ve seen the social media giants take some action. Facebook labels posts they identify with inaccuracies as ‘misinformation’. Twitter took the huge and controversial step of banning the former President of the United States. But are they doing enough? Inflammatory and often inaccurate posts equal engagement, and engagement is music to the ears of shareholders.

Source: Bing Images

So, does the ‘good’ of social media outweigh the ‘bad’? Do the connections, networking, calls to action, business promotion, charitable contributions and accurate news reports outweigh the spread of misinformation and its impact and influence on billions of users? What say you, reader? Cast your vote below with a click!

Meserole, C. (2018, May 9) How Misinformation Spreads on Social Media – And What to Do About it,

Suciu, P. (2021, August 2) Spotting Misinformation on Social Media is Increasingly Challenging.

Social Media and The Art of Feeling Crappy

Social media was first introduced as a tool for connection; an opportunity for interaction and networking, a way to reconnect with new friends and old. Thanks to Facebook’s ‘Memories’ feature, many of us who have been around since its inception are served with cringey reminders of our ‘TMI’ posts from 2008 and beyond. We’ve been reminded of a monumental time we stubbed our pinky toe, or that we uploaded 67 photos from a single night out and another five dozen the next weekend.

Since those early days, social media has evolved and so have our habits. Now, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are often used to present individuals as a ‘brand’, showcasing life as a highlight reel that is curated and almost always positive and polished. Unfortunately, the frequent exposure and sheer volume of this kind of content often results in comparisons to the idealized perceptions of how others look and live. This has brought about increased potential for negative social comparisons and feelings of social deprivation, lower self esteem and unhappiness (Georges 2009, Nesi & Prinstein 2015; Primack et al 2017; Tandoc, Ferrucci and Duffy, 2015).

No group has been more impacted by the negative effects of social media than youth. Social media has increased the influence of peer groups on the well being of adolescents, facilitating and magnifying the effects of self comparison (Kelly et al 2018, Seabrook, Kern & Richard 2016).

While social media was designed to be a tool to facilitate connection, the flip side is that the comparisons can lead to poor mental health, social isolation and lonelinesss.

As the parent of two teens and a self proclaimed Instagram junkie, this serves as a good reminder that not all is what it seems. Healthy conversations about how online content is created and edited with younger relatives will help to show them that what’s posted isn’t always a reflection of what’s real. To further mitigate the stress associated with self comparison consider reducing time online, examining the content you’re consuming and balancing your online time with offline interests.

Lastly, consider giving your time, follows and likes to content creators and accounts that post responsibly – you’ll feel less crappy, I promise.

Am I Even Doing This Right?!

Intro to Social Media – Discussion #1

Hey there, I’m Danielle. I’m mother to two busy teenagers and a Community Relations Supervisor for a non-profit program. I’ll be honest (since it will be plainly obvious anyway) – social media and tech are NOT my strengths. In fact, I’m not even confident this post will make it to the right spot. So what interests me about this course is exactly that, I’d like to go from knowing next to nothing to knowing a little something.

In our non-profit with limited resources we share the responsibility of social media, so professionally I was driven to this course for that reason. I want to engage prospective donors and volunteers and get them excited about what we do. I’m also considering pursuing another business venture on the side, so I can likely apply what I learn here to that project as well.

My definition of social media coming into this course, was online/digital networking that engages users and attempts to broaden a social ‘network’. I imagine my definition will change dramatically once this course is over.

One of my favourite blogs is The Birds Papaya: I like this blog specifically because a lot of the content is relatable. The author, Sarah Nicole, is a Canadian mother, divorced and remarried who celebrates body positivity and focuses on beauty and style, relationships and health. In addition to great tips and visuals, the theme is a pretty pink palate that’s easy on the eyes.

I look forward to learning from our course instructor and all of you this summer as I get better acquainted with the creative side of social media.