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The social media influencer trend - What's changing?

My small business story

A news story from the US involving influencers and free ice cream products, recently caught my attention as it highlighted an issue that brands are too afraid to speak about. Where do brands draw the line when it comes to influencers?

I started my swimwear brand with about $5000 in savings. I put everything I had into building it. I would eat 2 minute noodles, or tuna in a can every day for months until I built up enough money to pay for the next big order. I think when running a small business people often forget the amount of work that goes into the back end. The sacrifices that need to be made, the long hours after your day job and the social events you have to miss out on. 

I have made so many mistakes, lost a lot of money and learnt a ridiculous amount from growing this business. I have cried from being terrified, excited, lost, happy and so many more emotions. I try my best to stay strong and remember why I started. Because I love it! I love creating, I love inspiring, I love a challenge and I love the ocean and all that it brings me.

I think it's time more of us spoke up about our journey in small business and make sure that people realise the work that goes into building a brand. There are no shortcuts. We work hard and we hope that people respect, and enjoy what we create.

Influencers from a brand perspective

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I have mixed views on influencer promotions, how one Instagram post can be a whole week’s wage/sometimes a whole month’s wage for the average worker. But if you’re on the other end of the line (an influencer), then life must be pretty sweet.

While I understand and appreciate the work that Influencers can create, I do believe its gone too far. The problem isn’t people wanting to promote your brand, it’s the entitlement some (not all) of these influencers seem to have to free goods, just for the exposure they claim they can give your brand.

Essentially the brand is paying for ‘exposure’ to their audience, but most of the time their 60,000 followers don’t convert to sales and quite often that $1,000 for one post doesn’t come back straight away in a return on investment.

With the thousand ways you can now get your product out there it becomes hard for brands to know what is worth it. I have strong values around credibility - I believe credibility should be earned not bought. So many young girls come to us asking for free bikinis in return for photos, but they do not even necessarily support your brand. I don't believe they are thinking at the time of the amount of work that goes into creating these pieces. I also know they are not trying to be malicious, however its time for small brands to speak up. To explain to people that we work hard to get our products out there.

I really do hope that people choose to support my brand and purchase because they love the brand, and not because they are receiving free product.

In the beginning of the influencer trend the exchange of goods for exposure could possibly have happened and would have been mutually beneficial to both parties. Now, however, the public is much wiser about the influencer culture and therefore more skeptical when they see these posts. And business owners are sick and tired of being asked for free stuff just because this person knows how to use Instagram.

What are we going to do about it?

We are saying no to giving away free products, as we believe in keeping our brand and product premium. Our customers are now seeking more authenticity from the brands they interact with on social media and are becoming more conscious in their purchasing decisions. What this means for influencers is that they will only be believed if they genuinely love the brand they are promoting. We work now only with people who really believe in what we are doing, who fit our brands image and who want a genuinely lasting relationship with us.

We have decided to start an ambassador program to accommodate for the girls who do want to be a part of our brand but may not necessarily be influencers. For girls who would like to support us and the process of making our beautiful swimwear, who want to learn about the industry and grow with us.

We also provide our girls with the opportunity to assist us in choosing patterns and designs for our upcoming collections, they get first pick for new collections, provided discounts and we have a mutually fun and beneficial relationship. Our new Facebook Group is one of the spaces where we connect with our customers. It is our mission to become connected with our customers in new ways, be real, be fun and have a good time.

Why Instagram removing likes is a win for everyone

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I do believe the whole Instagram platform will change very soon, and after the recent changes with removing likes I feel this will bring a more positive change for young women and the mental health issues of today. It's great for brands because now we can focus solely on producing quality content. 

Another fantastic article written by SBS i read recently, stated that we can now focus on the photos and videos that are shared, rather than the amount of likes we receive. The validation of others has become way too important and I'm sure those who require that validation will be very much against this change.   

We need to re-shape the social platforms to be about whats really important. After speaking with a few close friends, I know they all believe this is a really positive change. Openly admitting how important likes have become to each other and our battle for validation will now promote a change for better mental health and well-being. The first steps are admitting the issue! I recently read that people are now moving towards just be themselves and looking up to people they can relate to. I recently read in an article. I hope everyone is truely excited to start changing the way we view social media - I am!

The gorgeous Elise Knowles (Shown in image above) knows the benefits of also taking a break from social media altogether. In her blog, she gives a few tips on how to gain a bit of your life back when it comes to your phone, some tips & tricks to a little bit of peace and happiness.

I have launched an Ebook written on how to make positive changes in your life, and live a life where you don't need to hold back - Get rid of those demons of self-doubt and start living your best life!

Have a great day & lets create a beautiful life.

Beth xx

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