Bangladesh has recently seen an influx of social media influencers, making it one of the most up and coming career options for the youth. You might be confused as to how it could be a “career option” since all we regular folks see are photos and videos uploaded by these popular individuals. What we don’t see is the business behind it all.
The thing is, these influencers need to make money and they can’t do that by just posting whatever they want. What companies and brands ask of them is product placement. Some influencers are more strategic and subtle compared to others. However, they all do it. The biggest question that arises from these product advertisements is an ethical one. Do these influencers actually stand by these products or are they only doing it for the money?
An influencer with a large following is offered various brand deals and therefore has the liberty to pick and choose which ones they want to do. Smaller influencers do not get that privilege most of the time. But should they really be promoting harmful products to people who trust them? The smaller influencers definitely need to start somewhere but if they deceive their followers, they will not be able to hold onto their fan base in the long run. They’re looking at short term rewards instead of thinking long-term.
I have come across many influencers who have been through the ringer for pushing products just for the dough. These incidents, unfortunately, are sometimes soon forgotten by their followers. Why is that? I’ve noticed that the followers who easily forgive and forget are usually part of the younger age range. Since they are naturally more naïve, they can easily be exploited by these influencers. Some influencers gain so much admiration from young followers that everything they recommend becomes something that these kids need in their lives. A lot of them don’t have an income themselves so they force their parents to spend their hard-earned cash on whatever nonsense the influencers are promoting.
Money isn’t the only concern here. I believe an even bigger issue is when influencers promote products that could mess with the health and well-being of their followers. Slimming teas, whitening creams, hair vitamins – these are some of the most popular gimmicky products that influencers love to promote. Do they themselves use these things? Of course not. They aren’t dumb enough to harm themselves. They, however, can be selfish enough to put their young, impressionable followers in danger just for a few extra bucks.
I’m not saying that influencers should stop product advertisement altogether. This is their living and I respect that. All I’m saying is that they can’t earn their living at the expense of their followers’ wellbeing. There should be mutual respect between an influencer and their followers. They can test out products and only promote the ones they would recommend to even their moms. In the end, I myself look to influencers for recommendations but I don’t appreciate being deceived. Influencers need to put honesty and transparency first, and a loyal following will surely grow.
Mayabee Arannya can never say no to a cup of tea or cute doggo pictures. Send her the latter at fb.com/mayabee.arannya