I asked on Instagram what people REALLY think about Influencer Marketing | Part 1 | Bloggers

It’s the blog post I promised. To give some context to those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, I asked on Friday for some honest feedback about influencer marketing. A friend of mine had called me out on a couple of brand things that I was involved in recently – in a lovely honest way - but it brought back to me something I've been mulling over for more than a year now. If a friend who supports me in everything I do is questioning it, has influencer marketing finally had its day in its current form? Are the majority of people simply fed up with endless group events and gifting en masse, unboxings and trips away and is this style of influencer marketing in fact negatively impacting the brands it is supposed to be promoting?

I asked for honest feedback on all of this and I kept it on Instagram because it’s the channel that sees the majority of this style of direct influencer marketing. Within 24 hours, I had around 400 messages from people expressing, in the main, similar views. In brief they are: 
  1. Yes - influencer marketing, while it was innovative and impactful when it first started years ago is falling in popularity and effectiveness. Instagram users are increasingly swiping past it or unfollowing the blogger (and sometimes the brand) involved. 
  2. Seeing people getting constant gifts devalues the brand involved and makes consumers less likely to ever purchase from them at full price. 
  3. This style of marketing lacks creativity and impact and is seen as a tired and lazy approach to creating brand awareness.
  4. Influencers are increasingly lacking in authenticity and seem willing to say nice things about a brand as soon as they're gifted product or paid to, even where it's not a good fit for their audience. 
That's a very broad sweep of the opinion and it wasn't all critical - in fact most people gave ideas and suggestions for doing things better. I’m going to summarise it all into two blog posts because it became clear as I read the messages that there are two strands to the debate, how bloggers work with brands and PR companies and how brands and PR companies work with bloggers (click to read this second post)

I’m starting with the constructive feedback and ideas that I was given about how blogger work with brands and PR companies. The purpose of this post is not to target other bloggers or influencers - I include myself in all of this feedback and I'm going to use it to change how I myself approach influencer marketing from here on in.

In the main people want bloggers to create content that educates and informs the people that follow them. Bloggers should be experts in their field and give a valid reason to follow them through the usefulness of their content.

Bloggers and influencers need to be selective about the brands and businesses they work with and only go to events and work with businesses that are really relevant to them.

The general sense around events is that we should be more mindful of sharing the business and the purpose of the event rather than each other. I had many comments about bloggers re-sharing each other’s content after events have taken place, leading to endless similar stories and posts - none of which serves to enhance brand awareness - it instead drives unfollow and swipe past activity.

Brand Led Content
Bloggers need to take ownership for their own unique content, relevant to their audience, when working with brands. We need to work with brands and PR agencies that allow us to input our own creativity into the process and make it appropriate to our audience.

Looking after Followers
Bloggers need to request something that benefits their followers when working with the brand. e.g. a discount or offer applicable to just those followers. Why should the blogger get something for free while everyone else is being expected to pay full price? 

Brand Loyalty
Avoid switching between brands too often. This particularly applies to the area of beauty and skincare. There was a recognition that loyalty to certain beauty and skincare brands is much more valuable than continually trying new ones. Self tan and beauty salon treatments were the kind of things that came up in this space.

 Following on from this, overwhelmingly the feedback was that followers have much more respect for bloggers who work on a long-term basis with a particular brand - in a brand ambassador role for example.

There were many many comments and messages about gifting. A sense that people are getting too much stuff and they’re unwilling to give this away to their own followers or to donate to charity. Most people appreciated that product often comes from PR agencies and bloggers don't necessarily request it. But many felt that bloggers should be more generous with their gifts - however giveaways of these products for the purposes of increasing following are not well liked. Let’s just give more away to worthy causes. There was specific mention of food parcels with many requesting that bloggers think about bringing these parcels to food banks or homeless charities.

A big request from lots of people was for bloggers to stop moaning about algorithms and visibility. It prompts a lot of unfollow activity.

Ad Content Placement
A number of requests came in for influencers to stop immediately putting up non brand-led posts after an #ad post. It creates the impression that the blogger is trying to hide the ad or lose it amongst organic content. I do know it’s tempting as a blogger to do this because you want to keep content balanced and not get knocked for having too many ads.

In Summary....
What came across in virtually every message was not at all a push back on working with brands but to work with the brands and products that you absolutely love and to do so in an objective way, giving detailed educated reviews that show that you are an expert in your field. And something that pleased me greatly, several people said they would like to see more blog posts rather than constant 24-hour disappearing content.

That seems like a lot of critical observations – I do feel like it is all constructive though. Who better to listen to than the people who are actually on the other end. The real followers - the non bloggers.  The way I view it is it’s simply requiring us to up our game - we should constantly be trying to do this anyway if we want to be successful. 

Positive Feedback
I want to end on a positive because there was lots of positive feedback that came through. Many people praised bloggers for saving them time and giving them great recommendations. There were lots of positives around beauty tutorials and style advice pieces, cookery and interior content. Try-ons and focusing on local businesses and boutiques are both popular. 

Many people spoke about how they enjoy following someone who is confident and posts relevant content. Who picks the right brands and businesses to work with but who also creates lots of interesting organic content too. No need to overshare - just a nice mix.
The vast majority of people did not mind bloggers making money from their content as long as all of the above was evident. 

So what are my own learnings from all of this? 
Well I will be attending fewer events. Sometimes I feel the pressure to attend because I know the PR person well but my kids moan anyway when I go out to these things (without them!) so I'll be declining most of them from here on in. I will also continue to decline press drops to my home. I do receive some without asking, where the PR company has my address already. I will be contacting these companies to ask to be removed from their lists.

I will keep focusing on local businesses and on helping you all to find the wardrobe pieces you want and need without having to trawl through every shop. Cookery has also come up a lot for me personally - I will definitely try to incorporate more of this into my day-to-day content. 

My next post will be published shortly and it will cover off the brand and PR side of things. I would love to get your feedback on both posts - please add to the comments below or message me via email to I've had early discussions about possibly presenting this in some form to professional bodies here in Northern Ireland so any additional feedback I get will form part of this.

Thank you so much for reading – a different post from me and a bit wordy I know but hopefully it’s been helpful, useful and informative.



  1. This was an interesting read Avril and it confirmed so many of the instincts that we were discussing when we met a few weeks ago.As you know, I think the influencer world is spinning far too fast at the moment with too many people jumping on board for purely selfish reasons without any consideration for readers/followers or for broader social and environmental factors. It makes me feel like stepping back because there's often behaviour that I don't want to be associated with.
    For me as you know, Instagram is the big problem with so many acquisitive commercialised feeds. I separate it from the far fewer people who are still dedicating their time to blogging. Instagram is a quick and easy way to make money whereas blogging takes a lot of time so people who are maintaining that level of content tend to be doing it more for personal reward and the interaction they have with readers.
    I think you've done some interesting work here to lift the lid on an increasingly cloudy space. I suspect we'll see a lot of sifting going on over the next couple of years as people become more attuned to the different social media avenues and approaches that are taken; they will self-select and work out who they truly relate to. You are, and have always been, utterly authentic and just the fact that you listen to feedback from your audience like this will help you to stay ahead of the flock. Onwards my friend, onwards.

    1. Thank you Nikki - we are so on the same page on this....thanks for taking the time to reply and I feel we need to discuss further over a lengthy lunch and a glass of wine! I really hope the sifting you refer to happens sooner rather than later. Because the challenge is that authentic bloggers might leave the market before then...I'm very weary about it all personally x

    2. I just want to say that I've been following and reading both yours and Nikky's blogs consistently for the past 4-5 years. As I live overseas its really easy for me to follow what's going on in the fashion world and particularly as I am also in my 40's and wanting to be more sustainable in my choices and buy fewer good quality pieces. Both your blogs have been really helpful and interesting for me and I really value you integrity and can see that you genuinely care about your a big Thank-you and keep on blogging!

  2. Fast fashion has a huge negative effect on climate change and I've stopped following those who promote it. The constant over consumption and buy the latest version of something u already own 10 times over sickens me. And influencers who jump on the sustainability bandwagon while still promoting fast fashion ate the absolute worst.

    1. It's a big problem. With my retail background, I know how difficult it is to survive as a business and I want to have a thriving high street to visit but something does need to change. There are certain brands I can't promote anymore because I think they were the first to nurture throwaway fashion and I'm always disappointed when I see older, wiser and in many cases, wealthier bloggers continually promoting them as a 'cheap as chips''s not a responsible way to blog anymore. The younger ones might not have clocked this (though lord knows they should), but us older ones need to lead by example as much as possible.

  3. Very thoughtful and beautifully summarised Avril. I have absolutely no problem with bloggers who are true to their own selves, carefully selecting brands that are relevant and giving thoughtful feedback. I do get tired of the constant gifting and it makes me think often that if the recipients could only spend their hard earned cash what would their wardrobes actually look like? The insta competitions often seem to be worth entering only if you are a member of a certain clique so, most times, I don't bother. Again, the press shows and insta meets do just tend to lead to a lot of very samey content and unless it's an authentic blogger such as yourself or Midlifechic you actually learn very little about the product or brand. It's all a bit of a Pandora's box at times. Now off to read part two.

    1. Thanks so much for your well thought through reply. I've waited before replying to these as I really needed some space between writing and coming back to it all. It was quite draining writing it all! I do think it's really interesting to wonder what our wardrobes would look like if we had to buy everything - and I often think that. It's easy to say we only pick what we like but when it's a paid opportunity, often bloggers feel forced to pick something they wouldn't have genuinely bought. I've done this in the past and it never sat well with me. I now decline but it's interesting to note that you rarely get an opportunity to work with a brand again if you do decline - there's a definite practice of blacklisting bloggers who don't co-operate. Rock and a hard place! It's why it all drives me scatty!! x

  4. Anonymous16:03

    This is interesting. Nothing mentioned here around kids and overuse of children as influencers, those who are using motherhood and mothering to make money? I would find this interesting.

    1. Well I didn't ask this specifically - it was more about events and gifting so while it came up now and again, it wasn't enough to warrant a mention. I've not doubt if I asked about this issue, I would get many many replies. It's another emotive issue.


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