The Downfall of the Instagram Influencer
Updated: May 15
This year, Instagram’s influencer engagement rates fell to a near all-time low.
According to an article by Mobile Marketer, the engagement rates for sponsored posts fell to 2.4% in 2019 from 4% three years earlier. This drop represents almost a 50% decline over three years.
Instagram influencers are losing their standing in this world as people have begun to grow wise to the lack of value they provide.
When I think of an influencer, I imagine a post of an attractive person sitting on a beach typing on their MacBook with the caption reading, office for the day, or something along that ridiculous theme.
I mean it’s not even practical. Have you ever tried doing work under the bright sun on a screen? You can barely see anything you’re doing, all while in the hot, uncomfortable sun.
I unfollowed all of these accounts and told myself I’m going to toss my phone into a lake if I ever subject myself to that content again.
My opinions aside, Instagram influencers are statistically falling in popularity. Both in real engagements, but also in their reputation perceived by society. Once a sought after status, people have begun looking past the curtain, to find an astonishing lack of substance and realism with these accounts.
People are losing interest in influencers, and here’s why.
Influencer’s are exploiting their audience’s negative mental health.
The staple of any influencer is their ability, to well, influence.
They do this by displaying the perfect life, filled with non-stop happiness, adventure, and aesthetically pleasing photos. Viewing their content, you can’t help but feel inferior, whether it’s through looks, lack of money, or just wanting to be as happy as them.
Motivated by this feeling of inferiority, people begin to look for quick fixes to bridge the gap; trying to reach the same superficial happiness influencers portray. Coincidently, influencers usually have just the right product to bridge the gap they impose.
When selling, step one is to create a demand. Influencers create this demand by posting impossible standards of living, which again, makes you feel inferior.
The worse the audience feels, the more likely they are to buy the product. This results in more traction influencers will get through their sponsored product promotion posts. In an article sourced by Viral Nation, it’s quoted that,
Influencers with up to 1 million followers can get $10,000 [per post], depending on the platform, and 1 million followers and up, you’re getting into territory where they can charge $100,000.
Influencers, make their money through paid ads, integrated into their posts in a variety of different ways. These paid ads have only one audience, their followers.
Regardless of intentions, the sad truth is influencers are more successful the worse they make you feel. People have begun to notice that following and supporting these accounts has a direct negative correlation with their mental health.
Influencers artificial lives are becoming increasingly unbelievable.
I’ll first point out that no one lives their real-life on Instagram.
Life on Instagram is a false reality of our best moments rolled up into one big highlight reel. I’m a perfect example of this fact through my writing. My articles get rejected consistently, like really consistently. However, nobody that follows me knows about this rejection, because I never post about it in detail.
It’s not that I care if people know I get rejected. I just don’t see the point in sharing that rejection to a broader audience on social media, where everyone lets their achievements live.
To a certain degree, we all live a fake life on Instagram. However, influencers will take it to an aggressive extreme.
As time goes on, influencers posts are becoming increasingly artificial, in attempts to stand out from the masses. This is leading to people beginning to notice how genuinely fake some of these accounts are portrayed.
It has grown to the point where there are dedicated forums and subreddits to debunking these posts. The most notable one being r/instagramreality where posts are compared to their real-world environment, usually to a massive degree of difference.
The more ridiculous these posts become, the more people begin to wise up to the lie that is an influencer.
Influencers are creating fake “genuine moments” of their life in an attempt to portray something spectacular when, in reality, they alienate more people every day.
An influencers worth is determined by their followers, not their talents.
When you look at popular Instagram accounts, it is sometimes hard to determine their value, and what you get out of following them.
Do you follow them simply because they’re famous or do they provide some value in your day-to-day?
The biggest problem influencers suffer from is that their value is based solely on their popularity. If you remove an influencer’s following, they will have nothing supporting them with no expertise or talent to prop them up.
Genuine accounts with real talent don’t suffer from this. A good friend of mine is a gifted comedic photographer and has used that talent to his advantage in pursuing a career.
He does headshots while working in a very successful media start-up, all while growing a following on Instagram. The difference between your average influencer and him, however, is that if you removed his followers, he would still have his expertise.
An influencer’s attraction originates from their large following combined with the ability to live a lifestyle making people envious. Take away their audience, and their relevance is gone, leaving only their fake lifestyle left to keep them company.
In the Netflix documentary American Meme, influencers such as Paris Hilton identify with the love provided by their fans, valuing them more than anything else in their life.
The sad truth is this worth doesn’t stem from genuine love but instead stems from the fact it gives her individual value. Without Paris’ staggering following, she is just another attractive wealthy person who owns a puppy mansion.
Influencers provide such little substance to the world while at the same time, living overly fake perpetuated lives. They jump through these hoops to sell products, at the expense of their audience's mental health.
Because of this, influencers are on their way out, and I, for one, will be holding the door as they leave.