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How to be an ethical influencer, as told by an influencee

By Erin Mikail Fuss

Influencer marketing can get a bad rep, and to some, they all look the same. Millennial pink, round face, rose gold iPhone and Macbook; you get the picture… and those pictures are all the same. It’s no wonder that these individuals sometimes come off as seemingly self-obsessed but let’s slow down and give that bad rep a hard look. 

Photo by Alexey Suslyakov 

I work in the ecommerce space and have worked with influences to promote brands, increase brand awareness and encourage people to sign up for the call of action of the week. Influencers can be great when you work to make a brand feel more human. You are tapping into an audience of people that so many people know and love, but at the same time, they can also appear inauthentic, and be more trouble to work with than it’s actually worth. As I said in the episode, the influencer marketing game is growing exponentially, and for good reason, because it’s almost like a friend recommending you to buy a certain product. But I think if not done ethically, it can result in social media continuing to perpetuate false narratives on what is authentic in this online space. 

So here’s my humble hope, some dos and don’ts, based on the research I have done and also based on personal experience of how influencers can make social media a more equitable and positive space:

DOs

  • Be transparent about who helped you, what was an #ad or #sponsored, or even – heck the fact that you had people help you get ready today. 
  • Measure actual return on investment (ROI).  Having clear expectations, and defining what success looks like is an important part of this process. Measuring things with affiliate links, or how many increased impressions garnered during a time period are important statistics to be aware of (want to dive into the nitty-gritty, there’s a good article here.) This will let you know what influencers were most effective at what.  
  • Take into heavy consideration what fits your brand. Coffee influencers look different from mommy bloggers, look different from scientists, look different from doctors on TikTok, but at the end of the day, they’re all still influencers.  Finding someone who matches your brand tone will have a stronger pull to their audience. 
  • Follow FTC guidelines! An influencer is getting paid to influence you. The FTC considers this advertising, make sure that there are appropriate disclaimers and images are tagged as being an ad where necessary. 
  • Know that this industry is all about constant change: just as the social platforms they exist on change, the tactics used with influencers have also changed. What worked last year, may not work the next.   

DON’Ts

  • Be blinded by solely aesthetics. Instead remember to look at engagement, likes, and values both of your platform and of your users as well. Remember that there are people on either end of the screen so speak to them, not to the algorithm. 
  • Lie, cheat, steal (this should be a given). All too often it’s easy to use the #AD or #Sponsored as if you actually were, but that’s a troupe of inauthenticity.  Disclose rules, regulations, and details where it’s needed. Nots sure what that looks like? Don’t do what @bucketlistfamily did.  
  • Limit yourself to one platform. Influencers don’t just exist on Instagram. Platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are all good places to find influencers to collaborate with.

As usual, we swear we are not just trying to shit on the influencer industry on the whole, in our episode. We appreciate and respect the efforts that go into maintaining an influencer account , we just think they could be more transparent.

What do you think of the influencers and the influencer industry? Drop a note in the comments, or shoot us a tweet. Either way, we’re here for you.

Featured

13 things we love about NYC

By Momina Mindeel

New York is the place to be if you are an awe-struck tourist, trying to devour the city in a week or two. You see a hundred things but still feel unfulfilled because truth be told, the city is huge, never-ending almost. From dozens of bridges to a gazillion museums, the city almost has a little too much to offer (and we’re not mad at it). However, for people who have to live in the city, it can be overwhelmingly daunting. The city traps you in its fast-paced life, from long subway commutes to expensive, well, everything. 

But New York is that one place that grows on you every day that you live there, and here are some of the things that we have come to absolutely love about the city: 

Picture of host Momina Mindeel standing on the High Line.
Me, living my best New York City life. Taken at The High Line. (Pic by Momina Mindeel)

1. The Public Transit

Hate on the MTA all you want, but we all know that one way or another, you’ll get to where you have to be. Most subway stations are open 24/7 (unlike the nearby DC or Boston) and there are dozens of different routes you can take to get home. Yes, they are overcrowded. Yes, the delays can sometimes be a pain. And yes, it does smell like pee. But it’s worth it to connect an entire city. And at just $127 a month? Not really a bad deal! 

2. The Parks 

Yes, I know Central Park is iconic and everyone talks about it but have you ever laid down in the East Meadow; just basking in the sun with your book, watching the kids play around you? That’s what I am talking about. Also, please don’t forget the East River State Park (which btw, is absolute magic), Prospect Park, Battery Park, Hudson River Park and so many others that just warm your soul with their stunning views.

Picture of the Manhattan skyline.
View of Manhattan from the East River State Park (Pic by Mayuri Mei Lin)

3. The Museums 

They say you can visit one museum every day for a month and not cover them all, and they’re not wrong! Apart from all the more popular museums like The Met and MoMA (which are also brilliant), please make sure to visit the Queens Museum which features a huge panorama of the city of New York. It is my favorite thing in the city, hands down! 

4. Coney Island 

Coney Island is the stuff of dreams. With its many rides, Nathan’s hot dogs, an actual beach and the beautiful broadwalk, it is the place to be. The moment you step off the subway train, you’ll hear the clickety-clack of old wooden roller coasters, the chatter of families and most certainly the smell of the many deep-fried foods available here (some of which shouldn’t be fried – looking at you stick of butter – but I digress). If absolute glee had a soundtrack, it would be the ambient noise of Coney Island. 

5. The Diversity

This one is obvious, isn’t it? You’ll find people, cuisines and cultures from around the world here. It doesn’t matter where you are from, you are sure to find a home somewhere in the city. From the South Asian enclave in Jackson Heights to Koreatown in Midtown Manhattan, you’ll surely find “home” here (if you’re not from around here, like me). 

6. Chinese Takeout 

You are bound to find at least one cosy chinese takeout place every two blocks. They are economical and have surprisingly big servings for rather low prices. And they’re also my go-to comfort food when it starts squalling or when it’s finals season. 

7. The Skyline

(call us cliche all you want)

No words needed here. You and I both know what I am talking about.The New York City skyline. Who knew capitalism could be so captivating?

8. The High Line

High Line is a 1.45 mile (2.33km) long elevated park in Manhattan that, apart from providing you with stunning views of the city, boasts some really amazing art. Just below it is also the Whitney Museum of American Art which is conveniently located next to an Ample Hill Creamery ice-cream shop, which sounds like the perfect day out, no? DO NOT MISS OUT!

Picture of artwork on display at the High Line.
Artwork on display at the High Line (Pic by Erin Mikail)

9. The 125th Street 

125th street in Harlem is, in my opinion, the hub of culture and vibrancy. There are branded shops and street vendors, together on the same street. It just warms my soul. 

10. The nightlife (of course)

On any given day (doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday or Sunday), you can always find a place to dance and drink. Our personal favorites are Elsewhere, House of Yes and Home Sweet Home. 

11. Governor’s Island

The island offers a stunning view of the city’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty. It is the ultimate picnic spot for when it’s not too cold. The Hammock Grove is the stuff of dreams and you need to go there at least once in your life.  

12. You get to tell people you live in NYC

This one is self-explanatory. Bragging rights, FTW.

13. Everything in one place

The city has everything, including an actual beach! It is a treasure trove of opportunities, nationalities, people, bars, eateries, education and quite literally everything else. 


We swear that we’re not just shitting on the city that we live in and sort of love on our episode about NYC, we just think a few things are overhyped. And that’s okay, we’re all entitled to our own opinion.

Are you a fanatic of NYC, or rather, do you shy away from the city anyway possible? Tell us why! Drop a note in the comments, or shoot us a tweet. Either way, we’re here for you.