So you might have seen the Faves Asia promotional video that was heavily slammed online, even spoofed most gloriously by our favourite comedian Preetipls:
Two people who call themselves “micro-influencers” named Kimberly Yong and Hilda Tan, both of whom were the two main actresses in the Faves Asia snafu, responded in a Popspoken article to share their experience and struggles as influencers.
We break down their responses for you, illustrated with photos from their respective Instagram accounts, to help you better understand this very challenging career they have:
I think it’s very easy to judge a book by it’s cover. It happens all the time, in almost every industry. And because people normally don’t talk about what goes behind the scenes, a lot of misunderstandings or misconceptions could be conjured.
For someone who’s not a part of this social media industry, they tend to see “influencers” or rather, content creator (sic) as people who get a lot of free stuff. I personally have a lot of friends who make statements like “Wah your life as an influencer damn shiok hor. You get so much stuff for free.”
But funny thing is, as a micro-influencer myself, I have never seen my life as damn shiok. Because in all honesty, the struggle in this industry is real.
I’m not going to deny that we get stuff for free. But here’s the thing, if you want to make this into a career, getting free stuff ain’t going to pay for your bills or support your family.
Mirco-influencers like us have to constantly better ourselves to make it to the top. And just like every other industry, the road to the top isn’t an easy one. With so much competition out there, it is not easy to differentiate yourself from the masses. And, it’s definitely not easy to work your way up there without much resources.
I think a lot of youths come into this industry thinking that it’s going to be easy. And I think the reason for the controversy comes from the fact that there are some people doing it for the wrong reasons. But, I don’t think that the entire industry should be classified as materialistic because of this. Because I know that there are people in the industry who do it out of passion and the pure love to (sic) create content.
When most people look at a post on Instagram, they probably only give it 3-5 seconds of their time on average. But if you flip it around and look at it from the point of view of the content creator, he or she might have taken days to finalise that “3-second” content.
The role of a content creator is somewhat like a bridge. It is the linkage between the brands and the target audience. So whenever a brand approaches a content creator like myself, there will be certain level of expectations that I will have to meet.
Sometimes, a post might have to go through many rounds of vetting or editing by a client before it can be published. And that in itself can take up to a couple of days. Not to mention that every client has different expectations and the fact that we’re working with so many clients at the same time.
In addition to creating content that the clients will like, we as the bridge also have to ensure genuine content for our followers and readers. This in (sic) a challenge for me as well as I will have to come up with content that meets the expectation of the client without compromising the truth in my content. So if you actually break it down and look at it, we have have (sic) quite a lot of responsibility.
I understand that the video Faves Asia published might have given people the wrong impression of the industry or some the girls in our company. But, I can say that I know these girls personally and they’re not materialistic at all. Just like me, they have been working hard and I can see that they have a passion for what we’re doing.
To conclude my post, I would like to say that even though anyone can come into this industry, what really makes someone different is the passion he or she has. And no matter how much I try to justify this industry, there will be people who will come in for the fame and the free stuff. That’s just how it is. But the only thing I can say is this, don’t judge the industry as a whole. Instead, look at everyone and see them for who they are. It is only then will you know who’s real and who’s not.
I am a junior in this industry and I might not know everything. But this is what feel [sic] from where I’m at right now. So I hope everyone reading this can take it with an open mind and understand that people make mistakes sometimes but everyone deserves a chance to make it right.
Whether people agree or believe it or not, everyone uses social media as a way to clamour for attention online. Just look at the number of tastefully photographed Instagram shots of food, OOTDs, etc. The only distinction between these people and influencers is that influencers monetise that desire.
The remuneration we receive is our source of income and for some people, it’s their bread and butter which is essentially similar to doctors and teachers who are supposed to have passion for what they do. Just because they get paid for the work they do, it does not mean they do not put in effort and there’s no passion at all. If they are doing it solely out of passion, then why are they paid so high? Why don’t they just become doctors-without-borders?
Let’s pause here for a moment to clarify: Saving lives and moulding minds is not the same as applying make up and choosing the right Instagram filter.
The remuneration package for every line of work exists for a reason and just because people feel like influencers are undeservingly paid highly doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve their income.
It is very easy for people out of this industry to judge the book by its cover but behind all those beautifully shot pictures are tons of hard work. From going to places to get those pictures shot to editing them and coming up with captions approved by the clients and meeting deadlines to ensure every campaign goes live on Instagram as scheduled. Not to mention many of us do not work with just one client at a time and as micro-influencers, this is not our full-time job and we do have other work/school commitments.
Netizens commented that influencers portray an unrealistic, full/of-glamour, materialistic lifestyle. We get to go for food-tasting sessions, attend events and basically get freebies and sponsorships for everything, from head to toe. But they failed to realise that work for us is 24/7. One picture does not show what a person is or what she/he does the entire day. When we attend events, we portray to be enjoying ourselves but please also remember we are there to work.
We have to ensure that we get enough information for each brand we work with to come up with content that fulfills clients’ expectations. We have to ensure that our pictures taken are good enough for posting, and many times we can take up to 100 pictures just to get that perfect one.
I have seen fellow micro-influencers rushing through dinner just to get their “live posting” content up on time. Just because we get paid and get sponsorships, it does not mean that people should discount us for the effort put into our content.
My purpose on Instagram is just to feature the goodness of what life has to offer and the term people use for my work today is called “influencer”, which comes with different views, both supportive and negative. Now I am aware of how good and bad people will view on a matter and I respect their view. While I do not seek the approval of the mass public, I will continue to work hard in hopes of putting myself in a better light in future.
Missing the point is putting it mildly
Sure, creating content and cultivating a personal brand takes effort and passion (though how much effort is needed, and whether it even makes sense to put in effort, to become an “influencer”, is up for debate. Don’t even get us started on “micro-influencers” or what they are or claim to be).
We would also like to add that materialism and laziness do not go hand in hand. One can be hardworking and materialistic at the same time — most of us, after all, would have to work to attain our goals — whether it’s for a Maserati in six months, being able to cut burgers with a fork and knife, or something else that is actually meaningful, is another story. In fact, you should be hardworking if you want to attain whatever you desire — materialistic or not.
The point (which neither micro-influencer, since they’re calling themselves that, seems to get) is that they’re representing a company that promises an easy road to fame and material wealth — not just one that is tremendously (to the point of being stupid) materialistic, but also claiming truth to a wildly impossible and misleading goal, which happens to perfectly contradict whatever Yong and Tan eloquently explained about their life struggles in this challenging career they have chosen above.
If you choose to appear in a video that promises sponsorships and a Maserati in six months, don’t blame people for calling you out. Just find a better talent agency.
Since you’re here, why not read this too?
Top photo adapted from Instagram and Popspoken