Today, more bloggers, influencers, and public figures take to social media with a dream to make money and to become internet famous than ever before. At first, the internet seems like the perfect place to conduct business. However, this billion-dollar industry is far might be more complex than it seems.
The Social Media World
Over the years, influencers have learned to take advantage of the most beloved applications and social media platforms. To put this into perspective, the influencer industry has significantly progressed since 2015. Back in the day, it was worth approximately $500 million. Nowadays, the estimations vary between $5-10 billion.
Today, bloggers and vloggers can make a fortune by posting content on Instagram and YouTube. But, what’s the catch? To be able to profit from their posts and videos, influencers must expose their lifestyles to thousands of followers. And sometimes, it garners a lot of different reactions online.
A Double-Edged Sword
By exposing their lives on social media platforms, influencers are able to gather a base of fans with similar opinions and views. These people support the choices of their favorite influencer, no matter the circumstances. Do you have a favorite blogger you follow online?
However, everyone on the Internet is entitled to have an opinion. Influencer culture has caused a bit of controversy online. Many people perceive influencers as ego centrical and not trustworthy. Numerous cases have highlighted the arrogance of certain bloggers. Many people do not think influencers give false perceptions online and this brings for a lot of 'haters.'
A Career or A Hobby
A number of vloggers have entered this niche industry as a way of entertainment and having fun. What starts as a fun hobby, quickly turns into a career for many people once they recognize the potential in social media. Once they realize they can make a good living as an influencer, their process becomes more serious.
In the beginning, it might not sound difficult. However, like any other business, influencing is a complicated profession like any other. It requires advanced communication skills, challenging negotiations, tricky collaborations, and maintaining a cherished reputation.
Free Goods and Other Benefits
By transforming their hobby into a career, influencers enter into partnerships. This means they are constantly receiving free products, and in return, they promote these products to their fan base. Today more companies than ever are utilizing influencers as an effective marketing tool.
However, this relationship between companies and their influencer partnerships has caused controversy online. Not every brand is looking for promotional posts from influencers. Misunderstandings have been the root of numerous conflicts in the online world over the years.
The Internet Can Be Unpleasant
Misinterpretations happen in every job but when it takes place on the internet, conflicts can be taken to a whole new level. It's true that some people feel far more confident and tough when they can hide behind the screen.
Because of this, it's important that public figures have thicker skin and a stronger self-awareness. Deciding to post everything online gives other people the right to comment, love, or hate your content. For better or for worse, right? Influencers must be ready for anything that comes their way.
Elle Darby As the Typical Example
Many influencers have been a part of an online conflict for many different reasons. Sometimes its an influencer feud, a hater, or an ex-partner who wants to stir the pot. The reasons behind these actions may range from a simple misunderstanding to deliberate provocation.
One of the most well-known influencers that experienced the darker side of social media is Elle Darby. She has spent a lot of time trying to repair her public image after she was put down by a possible collaborator. But what was the reason for this turn of events?
The Journey of Elle Darby
Darby started her journey back in 2015 when she decided to document her drastic transformation. To be more specific, Elle posted her diet and workouts for her followers to see. It was all with the purpose to inspire her followers around the globe to improve their lifestyle and enhance their self-confidence.
She used both Instagram and YouTube to document her process, as they are the most famous applications for health and fitness content. Daily, she recorded the progress she made towards achieving her goal. What’s more, she expressed her opinions, feelings, and issues, to be able to connect with her fan base.
From Fitness to Lifestyle Influencer
As time went by, Elle’s fans became more interested in other areas of her life. At that point, her eating habits evolved into a small part of her overall picture and reputation. Her fans wanted to see her outfits, her lifestyle, and everything that made her unique.
She was posting her best life. Yet, what brought her the most publicity was the surgery that fixed her lazy eye. This event took place in 2018 and certainly reached a wide audience. A lot of people were able to relate to her, and others were interested in her recovery.
The Glamorous Life of Elle
Currently, Elle has 332k followers on Instagram and 375k subscribers on YouTube. She is still positioned as a fitness trainer, but her main focus is on the content of her glamorous life and wardrobe. Mostly her photos and videos are of travel destinations, makeup looks, and the people in her life.
She has been dating Connor Swift for quite some time now. He is the owner of a “lifestyle fitness apparel” company called Swift Athletics. Additionally, Connor is her fellow Youtuber. So, they spend a lot of time filming videos together. That’s why many would say they are ‘a match made in heaven’.
The Beginning of The End
Once Elle had increased her fan base and reach, she certainly started living the fairy tale life. All her posts were well appreciated and appraised by her followers. However, naturally, she had no idea that she'd quickly discover the darker side of social media.
It all started when Elle decided to book an early Valentine's day weekend for her and her boyfriend Connor. Like any other influencer, she considered all her options. And after thorough research, she chose the Charleville Lodge Hotel in Dublin, Ireland as the perfect place for a getaway.
Valentine’s Day - A Business Plan
Once Elle came across the Charleville Lodge Hotel, she thought of a plan to combine business and pleasure. Thus, she decided to send an email to the owner of the hotel.
The email explained how both of them would benefit from a partnership. Well, let's just say she failed to consider the response of the hotel’s owner. And she soon discovered the mistake of her decision and immediately regretted sending that message.
Services of Social Media Influencers
When Elle decided to offer her services as an influencer, she believed that the hotel owner would accept her promotional activities as compensation for free accommodations. She immediately introduced herself and explained she had a big fanbase, hoping this would be proof of her popularity and influence online.
She bragged about her following and offered a ‘shout-out’ instead of cash. While some might accept her proposal as a marketing tool, this hotel owner did not take her offer well. It appears she chose the wrong individual to pitch her services to and received an unpleasant response.
An Unexpected Response
When Paul Stenson, the hotel’s owner, received the influencer’s proposal, he felt offended. He decided to expose the email to the public. To protect Elle, he chose to cover her personal information, but he was unsuccessful in preserving her privacy.
When people adjusted the brightness on their devices, they were still able to see Elle's personal information. Probably unaware of this issue, Paul continued with his posts of attacking the audacity and lifestyle of influencer culture.
The Content of The Reply
Apart from posting the email he received, Paul came up with a comeback. He posed several questions to the internet, such as, ‘Who would pay the employees who will look after you?’ and ‘Should I tell my staff they will be featured in your video instead of getting paid?’
In addition to the several questions he asked Elle, he expressed his anger toward influencers in general. He stated that the world is not responsible for maintaining their luxurious lifestyle and choices. What’s more, Paul gave Elle a bit of life advice and attached a video to the post.
The Hotel Is Doing Great
Paul made it very clear that his hotel is doing well, with or without influencers. He even made a point to link the social media accounts of the hotel to show that they have a substantial following online. Furthermore, he stated that these numbers don’t give him the right to ask and receive anything for free.
In the end, he gave Elle an alternative proposal. To be more exact, he encouraged her to pay like any other guest. Then, if the hotel believes that she deserves the hype, she may receive a complimentary upgrade to a suite.
P.S. The Answer Is No
To spice things up a bit more, Paul Stenson finished his response with ‘Best Regards’ and ‘P.S. The Answer Is No’. He even made a point to attach a video featuring an actress who makes fun of all the habits of influencers. The video ends with the actress saying ‘never forget, sell your soul’. Message received loud and clear.
The situation escalated quickly and certainly reached its peak when Elle was made aware of all this content. Once people online figured out the influencer in question was Elle, they instantly started sending tweets and messages. Some of which were supportive, and some were extremely hateful.
When Incognito Goes Wrong
When the identity of Elle was revealed, she decided to respond in the same way any influencer would. Thus, she filmed a video and posted it on YouTube. She expressed the nature of her intentions. And like any other vlogger, she received the support of her followers.
However, the majority of the comments were hateful and called her a freeloader. In the video, Elle criticizes older people who she believes should lead by example. But this video did not get a pleasant response. She received death threats, mostly from people older than her who were offended by her comments.
But That’s Not All
As surprising as it sounds, both sides got better publicity than they would have gotten if they partnered up. To turn things up a notch, Paul drew up a fake receipt for ‘the provision of features in 114 articles across 20 countries with a potential reach of 450 million people’.
But that’s not all! The hotel’s owner decided to print T-shirts designed for this particular situation. It was a great marketing strategy and his creativity certainly paid off. He was able to increase the popularity of his hotel and his name.
The Ultimate Ban for Influencers
After all this drama, Paul Stenson decided to ban all influencers both from his hotel and The White Moose, his café. Considering his strong opinions on the behavior of vloggers and influential culture, we are not that surprised. In a way, his hotel is now banned in the influencer world.
The exact words that Paul used were, ‘The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name.’
The Final Event
Contrary to Stenson, Elle Darby decided to try a less confrontational response. She tried to calm the situation and express her ‘pure intentions’. She filmed a video to try to calm the situation. Yet, the response was once again far from what she expected. It didn’t stop the hateful comments coming her way.
In the video, she stated that it was all a misunderstanding. Besides, she said that it was a business idea and she was willing to help both the hotel and Paul's café. Her final words were that she just wanted to move on from the entire situation. Anyhow, it was far from the end.
The Fan Base of Elle
As expected, Elle’s followers gave her full support in this situation. They were the ones that focused on Elle’s side of the story and completely understood her intentions. Some of the fans even attacked Paul with hateful speech and comments.
Team Elle was adamant that Paul was shaming young people. They believe that he had actually done more damage than good to his business. Elle’s fan base declared that Paul’s business was disrespectful and not worthy of a stay. Yet, Paul didn’t seem to be bothered by these words.
This Means War
As mentioned before, social media is a double-edged sword. So, both Elle and Paul received both love and hate. Like any other story, choosing a side depends on your perspective and understanding of people involved. So, what do you think? Whose side are you on?
This social media war was one for the history books. On the one hand, there was Team Paul which despised Elle and considered her arrogant. Then there was Team Elle who argued that Elle and other influencers are part of a legitimate profession called bloggers. What do you think?