INFLUENCE: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
As top social media influencers annoyed the hell out of their relatives these last few weeks, carefully arranging mum’s spuds and sprouts for ‘spontaneous’ Christmas Day Instagrams, the line between private and public lives has become thinner than ever. With the influence of Snapchat and stories’ behind-the-scenes appeal seeping across on to the main feed (albeit in a more rigorously staged fashion); the rise to ubiquity of the flat-lay; and followers demanding to know how certain looks or shots have been achieved, online transparency is greater than ever.
Shaped more than ever by the online world, personal lives look very different to how they did a decade ago. These days, the internet pumps Netflix on to your TV (or laptop) screens; a few clicks of your smartphone instruct Deliveroo to drop off your choice of indulgences; and there are now apps that call for in-house blow-dries, massages, makeovers and more. ‘Staying in is the new going out’ might seem an out-of-date cliché, but staying in has never looked more like going out.
— John (@Everyday_Man) March 29, 2017
“Literally not moving from this bed tonight”, tweets men’s lifestyle blogger The Everyday Man to his 12.5k followers. “Well, except to go down and collect my Deliveroo!” Which might seem an entirely average observation – with recent research revealing that under 35s are ordering up to 10 pizzas a month (five times as many as over 55s), millennials are now officially the ‘takeaway generation’ – were it not for the fact that the Glasgow-based influencer was tweeting from his hotel bed. Slap-bang in the middle of Shoreditch. A world of internationally envied cuisine on his doorstep.
In fact, a quick scroll through the tweets of countless bloggers reveals an endless list of statuses like ‘staying in to binge-watch The Crown’; ‘Deliveroo, Star Wars, PJs and Netflix’; ‘time to burn off that Indian takeaway from last night’. Over on Instagram, the rough-and-ready appeal of stories means that users are now treated to an endless stream of wooly socks, comfy throws and pizza boxes. Where once we might have felt immense guilt from binging in every sense, today’s influencers have legitimised a new wave of unashamed laziness.
This insight into shameless loafing isn’t the only food and drink trend that is shining a spotlight on the personal lives of our favourite influencers. With some 16 million viewers having tuned into the BBC’s final episode of The Great British Bake Off, and the compulsive format of MasterChef spreading to more than 40 countries around the world, social media celebrities are only too happy to show off their attempts in the kitchen – whether that be from amateurs such as Alice Tate (17.5k) showing off her “first ever lasagne that actually cut as a slice”; or from semi-pros like Vani Hari (170k), named by Adweek as more influential than both Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, laying out her regular homemade recipes in great detail.
Such is the power of social media and the internet to democratise any industry imaginable, it feels as though influencers can change the way we perceive ‘fame’. Allowing their followers to see exactly how it’s done, there is now (wrongly or rightly) a sense that anyone can feel empowered enough to challenge the celebrity ‘old guard’. Could such a thing have been achieved without the window digital media has opened into their private worlds?
Perhaps the forebears of the behind-the-scenes generation, beauty bloggers have established themselves by showing their followers exactly what goes into the final look: influencers like Alix Coburn (179k) use the temporality of stories to show a version of themselves that the highly polished and highly valuable regular feed would be unlikely to portray. For those who don’t have the patience that goes into such rigorous makeup regimes, a new wave of call-in beauticians and spa professionals – by way of a parade of online companies like Ruuby, Prettly, Priv, and blow Ltd who are all using influencers extensively to promote their services – are ensuring you need not lose pace on your marathon of The Crown to look Instagram-ready.
And if you’re no budding Vani Hari, or are looking for something a little more special than Deliveroo’s offerings, online services like La Belle Assiette deliver private chefs to take your dinner party to an exceedingly photogenic level from just £39 per guest. Clos19 – the online wine and spirits retail arm of the LVMH group – allows you to put on your own seriously swanky masterclasses and cocktail parties. Ever wondered how your favourite Instagrammer managed to make their home-hosted event look so damn professional?
Binge-watching and binge-eating; in-home makeovers and Michelin-starred chefs wowing your friends; top influencers (like Megan Ellaby, 170k) giving the public an intimate view into their latest living room rearrangements; showing off home comforts such as candles and flower arrangements as a de rigueur occurrence: social media has opened a window into a world that had before remained wholly private. The impact of this new, ‘open-book’ arena could make for an interesting shift in how businesses speak to the social-media-savvy public.
As big Instagram names like Lucy Williams (300k) and Olivia Perez (69.9k) have shown, food can look as sexy half-eaten, or completely eaten, as it might have been painstakingly staged by expensive photographers; bloggers like The Everyday Man are bypassing your long-considered food-and-beverage offering in favour of a cheap takeaway; practically everyone is bypassing any audio-visual entertainment offering in favour of Netflix; and you might want to think about upgrading your gowns and slippers.
Today’s influencer generation are doing things differently, but by inviting the public into every facet of their private lives, they’re writing their own guidebook for behaviours, pleasures and inclinations. It’s time to get personal.