Recently an article calling out a bunch of influencers using bots went viral. I didn’t read the piece which was taken down fairly swiftly, so missed the juicy deets of the people named and shamed but it doesn’t really matter.
I hate articles like that authored by the anonymous, immediately dampening my trust.
The other reason I didn’t really care about the piece was because…..well, it’s nothing new.
I wasn’t even remotely surprised so many influencers were called out for allegedly using bots (note, allegedly, as I didn’t read the piece and couldn’t comment on its accuracy).
This isn’t a new thing. And it started even before Instagram became everyone’s preferred social media platform. You know why people do it?
Because the whole industry is built on smoke and mirrors. It’s built on opaque media kits and silence.
I’m specifically talking about travel blogging because that’s what I know, or knew. It’s where I built my career and where I fell out of love with blogging for a bit too.
The trouble with travel blogging is that everyone lies.
And because everyone lies, nobody seems to have a solid grip on what their numbers ‘should’ be. And that silence and lack of transparency leads to confusion among new bloggers, mistrust in the ‘OG’ crowd and hella blurriness when it comes to knowing who is successful.
I wrote about how I lost my head and used a bot for a week a while back, so I’m not judging those who do. Well, not much 😉 The reason people use bots in is symptomatic of a diseased industry run by a homogenous group of men who seemingly all started their blogs in 2009. And the occasional woman who, arguably, churns out far better quality content than her male counterpart.
I’d like to name names, but that would be gross and pointless. If someone is asked to go on a press trip despite their crappy writing, mediocre photography and manipulated stats it’s not really their fault. It’s the fault of the industry.
It’s the fault of the PR agency who assigned blogger outreach to the clueless intern or outsourced it to a blogger agency professing to know all the best names (but who actually pick from a pool of their drinking buddies and girls they fancy).
The funny thing, I think, is that every year I went to World Travel Market or a blogging conference I heard people saying the same thing; “It’s about quality, numbers are only important if they’re real…..” but honestly? I call BS.
Vicky Flip Flop talked about the fact she was nearly overlooked for a press trip because her Instagram wasn’t big enough. Which, frankly, is utterly ridiculous if what you want is a quality travel writer to create reliably good content for you.
Of course, not every press trip or brand collaboration has the same goals. If your goal is to increase brand awareness and reach your audience who you know use Instagram, then of course, you need someone with a solid presence and great engagement.
But realistically? What most PRs want is to keep their clients happy. Clients who perhaps don’t understand the inner workings of Instagram and Facebook or truly understand why digital is even better than print coverage….some mightn’t even be on board with the idea of bloggers.
So why would they want the added hassle of having to explain why this person, who has a VERY engaged following and write high-quality content but yes, they are under the brands demands of a 50 DA…..
I get it.
But because of this toxic environment the industry is like a boys club. With a few cliques thrown in for good measure.
Those starting out feel they SHOULD do this, that and the other to succeed and start out with a very blurred view of what they need to aim for. I’ve talked at length about in the past and, despite the fact I KNOW my version of success isn’t to be a full time travel blogger anymore it still rancours when I look back and realise I could’ve been schmoozing and lying my way onto press trips for years instead of doggedly trying to increase my traffic to the magic number that never was….
So, the trouble with travel blogging, the trouble with it all is that it’s all smoke, mirrors and thinly veiled bullshit.
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