Whether you like it or not, social media has firmly cemented itself as an essential aspect of our lives. With the number of social media users worldwide hitting 3.5 billion towards the end of 2019, it has revolutionised the twenty-first century, becoming one of the most versatile sources of entertainment.
Now, thanks to the global success of apps like Tik Tok and Instagram, a whole new type of career has evolved from it.
Those with a significant following could potentially be on their way to becoming a Social Media Influencer. High profile brands and organisations will see the large fan base and potentially ask them to promote their products. This usually appears in the form of a sponsored post or story which will then generate revenue for the influencer. Fitness influencers are amongst the most prominent users on the platform with their large impact on trends in diet, exercise, and training.
The job of a social media influencer is very much an invention of the modern era. As such, societal moulds of what constitutes a normal job are gradually breaking down. And it appears that some people are reluctant to embrace this change. This became apparent when, on 20th February 2021, Fitness Influencer Gracie Collis received an onslaught of criticism after someone had hacked her Instagram account with over 30k followers. They had consequently deleted her content and blackmailed her over email if she wanted the account back.
A myriad of users took to the comment page persistently criticising Collis for how she makes her money. Each example follows a similar trend: “Maybe you should get a normal job”, “oh no, you’ll have to go to normal work like everyone else.” One comment even went so far as to call a personal trainer lazy – “This is the problem with being lazy and not having a real job.”
Sadly, mocking comments such as these are common in the world of Instagram Influencers. Blogger Emma Lavelle spoke about how many people scorn the industry on a daily basis. “I was bombarded with people telling me to ‘get a real job’ and telling me that my chosen industry was a sham. ‘Influencer’ gets treated like it’s a dirty word… due to a lack of understanding on what it is that we actually do.”
At the moment, the idea of “social media” becoming a full-time job is such a new phenomenon. Consequently, this has generated a lot of stigma towards the role of an “Influencer.” Some social media influencers can invite an unhealthy comparison with those living a seemingly idyllic life. When it comes to the point where a young and vulnerable audience may be misled, that certainly warrants criticism.
However, in these current times of crisis, social media’s widespread usage has actually helped people become more financially stable. Those in the hospitality industry, for example, can use their online presence to expand their influence, client base, and earnings. Not to mention lockdown severing many lucrative opportunities for businesses. As such, for personal trainers like Collis, her social media became a portfolio of all her work. In acquiring a following, she can keep her PT business afloat during lockdown by running zoom classes and uploading her workout routines.
Simultaneously her following can both stay fit and find daily motivation in seeing her so active on her posts. Additionally, Fitness Influencers like Gracie Collis have established credibility in a specific area or industry. It is their talent and years of commitment to training that is the root of their following.
Whether we like it or not, new ways to earn money have branched off this 21st-century innovation. Influencers might not necessarily be lawyers, teachers or any other jobs on your traditional Game of Life boards. However, they can be endearing, determined and so motivational. From my own experience, I’ve felt a stronger love of sport and fitness through Collis’ classes than I ever have with my history of P.E teachers – those with supposedly “real” jobs. If there are influencers which bring out the best in people why shouldn’t we celebrate that? Collis is a great showcase of how powerful Influencers can be in both the world of work and in our everyday life.
Words by Katie Heyes
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