Have Instagram Influencers Ruined Travel For An Entire Generation?
What a great platform Instagram has been for influencers to show off the worlds best destinations. Inspiring wanderlust and uncovering new hidden gems. Then, almost overnight, everyone seemed to want to do the same thing. Become an influencer, whilst missing the part about actually being influential. Images became less about the destinations, and more about pretty and edited images where individual egos and a drive for self-fame took over from the overriding message of inspiring travel. The destination took a back seat, and in an ever increasing attempt for 'insta-fame' people portrayed perfect lives of 365 days travel a year. Recent stories that have surfaced of apparent influencers editing the same pictures of clouds into different images does little to throw any water on the flames of the current argument.
Almost overnight, the word influencer became one of the most toxic words on the internet. The audience woke up to the fact that entitled ‘influencers’ actually have very little qualification to tell their audience what to buy, where to go and what to think, simply because they take set-up pictures. And rightly so people have woken up to this reality. There are plenty of influential people on social media - that is very different to ‘influenecrs’ who have seemingly largely now renamed themselves to ‘content creators’ - simply discounting from the actual talented content creators ranging from photographers to videographers out there. The crowd pilling into the ‘influenecer’ bandwagon also unfortunately discounted from those that could be classified as an influencer and being influential. Granted, that certainly exists—there are many people on social media that have built-up an adorning audience that cares about what they have to say, and where they go, but it has now become increasingly difficult to distinguish these people in amongst the wider noise. Having followers doesn’t translate to actual influence. This was recently demonstrated by the revelation that an ‘influencer’ with over 2 million instagram followers couldn’t sell 20 T-shirts to her audience.
How many times have you seen a beautiful picture of an overwater villa in the Maldives on Instagram? Could you actually remember the name of any resorts you see though in the Maldives or the hotel captured in those perfectly set up floating breakfast tray shots in Bali, with overly edited pictures? I certainly can't.
Looks great doesn’t it? Double tap images, and then move on with your day. The remaining marketing message that you have been left with is that you want to go to said promoted destination, eventually. We are being sold a dream of a room that costs thousands of dollars a night, by people that (largely) couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to afford to stay there off their own accord, without complimentary nights to market the message—influencers have been using a follower count to live complimentary lifestyles sold to whoever pays the most—paid for, in kind, by their followers.
Would that be considered false advertising? Perhaps, but that’s a different topic altogether. The very problem here, and with the never ending push for influencers to get more ‘wow’ content, is that what we are seeing visually, is rarely what we are likely to experience when we travel in reality.