CAN WE TRUST BEAUTY INFLUENCERS?
A question I’ve seen pop up across social media, blogs and youtube recently is – Can we trust the big beauty influencers? There have been incidents where influencers have been caught out in offensive behaviour, undisclosed sponsorships and overcharging for their own products (um, hello Zoella advent calendar). Has the trust completely gone? Are these influencers being shady? Let’s chat.
Sponsorships are a big part of the current beauty community on youtube as well as bloggers and instagrammers. Adsense and affiliate links aren’t enough to make a living, so a lot of beauty gurus and bloggers do sponsored posts every now and again. While this isn’t an issue in itself, of course (you’ve gotta make a living somehow), sometimes it feels forced and not ‘natural’. I’ve watched sponsored videos where mid-way through the video, there will be an advert for an unrelated product, like an app or toothbrush, rather than blending seamlessly into the content. When ads are put in that way, it doesn’t feel like the creator has put in any effort or thought, whereas a video where the product is integrated into the video (e.g. using a particular makeup product in a tutorial) seems more natural.
Another problem that arises is where the creator promotes a product for a sponsorship and then never talks about it again. Whilst this is fine (as I said, you’ve got to make a living so advertised products don’t have to be a holy grail), it makes more sense to promote something you love, as it will come across more natural, realistic and people will trust the opinion a lot more.
With sponsorships on YouTube (I’m not sure about the legality with blogs), you have to disclose that the video contains paid-for promotional content or product placement. Most people use the word ‘ad’ in their title or thumbnail, then again in the description box. However, last year there were countless rumours that various beauty influencers’ Monthly Favourites videos had undisclosed sponsorships within them. Not only is this against the T&Cs of the site, but also feels a bit shady.
I NEED TO GET ON THAT F**KING PR LIST
Quoting Manny MUA for that subheading, but PR hauls are increasingly popular on youtube now, with thousands of pounds worth of makeup being unboxed on camera each day. For brands, this is free advertisement – the influencer opens the PR and shows the new products on camera, then they may use them in a review or tutorial for more advertisement. Again, nothing wrong with this, as it’s just how the industry works and it’s exciting to get free makeup. A few youtubers, however, have become somewhat of a meme in recent times, due to their excitement and positivity about every single product they receive for free, or from certain brands, no matter what the quality or colours are like.
The thing that’s difficult to decipher is whether they’re being overly positive about the products because they want to remain/get on the PR list, or because they’re just in a good frame of mind after receiving makeup for free. It is a great feeling to be sent PR, so I can understand why subconsciously someone may skip past the negatives in a product, but it doesn’t feel honest and doesn’t give a true review. But if they are just trying to get on or remain on the PR list, there’s no point in the review as it isn’t a real review. There’s just no point in it! Unfortunately, this is definitely the case (see Nicol Concilio’s Kylie Cosmetics reviews).
USE CODE JAMES FOR 10% OFF
Plenty of gurus have discount codes for sites, such as the Morphe codes that get them some commission. Yet again – there’s no problem with this, no matter which brand it is. However, sometimes I’ll be watching a video and the creator will be using or talking about that particular brand a lot more than the others. It makes me question if they do truly love these products, or whether they’re pretending to in order to influence their viewers to purchase with their link, especially if the products they are using don’t have good reviews elsewhere.
£50 FOR CONFETTI?
Finally, influencers’ own brands. Or, more specifically, Zoella’s £50 poundland-esque advent calendar. We all felt ripped off by her 2017 advent calendar, and it definitely sent waves of distrust throughout audiences of other youtubers, too. Instead of blindly accepting prices of things, we began to think, “is this actually worth it?”. Whether it’s makeup or not, things with influencer names on seem to be more expensive than another brand, same as it is with celebrities. I think we all know that we’re paying for a name, but when products are being released that are overpriced tat, it seems like a con or a money-grabbing move as they know their true fans will purchase anything they release. Is it any wonder we’re questioning our trust for influencers?
Check out the video below for my conclusions: