Thursday, December 16, 2021

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy


I've been curious about this book for a while because I would like to take my blogging and Bookstagramming to a more professional level. Over the past couple years, I've inexplicably gained a bigger following and to be honest, it doesn't always feel deserved. The sense of impostor syndrome is real, y'all, and I'm always trying to better myself personally and professionally. I thought this would help with the latter.

First and foremost, this is not really a "how to get followers and influence people" type of book. There's a little bit of that, but INFLUENCER seems primarily geared towards people who are already on the cusp of influencer fame and trying to get monetized and therefore assumes that they have some sort of following already. So this book is about what to charge, how to negotiate, and how to manage your following. That is so not me at this point in my life. I'm not even a micro-influencer. I'm, like, a micro-micro-influencer. And if you're at the same level as me or below, this book is probably going to make you feel like trash. After reading this, I scrolled through my Instagram and I definitely felt those trash vibes.

Second, this book seems to be primarily marketed towards people who want to go into lifestyle, fashion, and makeup influencing which is, again, so not me. I don't think I'm bad to look at, but I also don't think any 18-40 year old with disposable income is going to be looking at a picture of me in jeans and sunglasses and think to themselves, "I WANT TO LOOK LIKE HER." Maybe they'll think, "I want those jeans and sunglasses," but that says more about the jeans and sunglasses. I'm a book blogger, dammit! 90-95% of my content is book related, which makes some of the advice in this book super unhelpful to me. Like, there's this one passage that kind of made fun of people who don't have other people in their pictures for not having any friends (not in those exact words, but that was the gist), and it just didn't sit well with me. Introverts can influence too! We just do it... quietly.

Which brings me to point the third, there's like this brisk tone to the book that I didn't really like. The author is obviously super competent at her job and I guess she deals with more bullshit than she would like in a given day (I could never be a director of influencer talent), and I'm sure the tough love vibes this book gives off will appeal to or be necessary for some, but I didn't like it. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but it gave off Big Shot L.A. Movie Producer Talking on a Cell Phone energy. For an inspirational book, there sure was a lot of, "Guess what? You just missed your big break." It felt demoralizing. Maybe it's supposed to. Fame and influence are not for the fragile-ego'd.

There are a number of talking points that I think are really great, though. Like, professional influencing is a job and it's not quite like being a celebrity, so if you are in this sphere, it makes sense that nobody will want to work with you if you're a diva or unprofessional. She has a section at the end of each portion called "Don't Be That Girl" which is about someone who pulled a foolish or dickish move that blew their big shot. And I actually enjoyed these portions in the same way that I enjoy YouTube "tea channels," but, again, they weren't all that helpful for me. I'm happy when people send me free books in the mail and the idea of being like, "Book me for this campaign and also pay for my pet to travel" is the kind of peak entitlement I just cannot fathom. Like, who are you? I also liked the emphasis on how good content takes time and money and work, and it's not easy to make it look that easy. Which is common sense, but easy to forget if someone's doing a good job. I remember taking a photo of a pile of books and shuffling around for almost twenty minutes trying to get them just the right amount of casually disarrayed. I felt like a fool, but did that stop me from trying to get the perfect shot? No.

INFLUENCER is a quick, breezy read and it gives a mix of general advice and specific advice, but it is important to keep in mind that this is more for someone looking to monetize their content and not really a guide to getting more followers. It also doesn't have any photos; all of the examples of success are either from influencers the author has reached out to or examples from the author's own work experience on the brokering side. So if you're looking for a sort of bookish mood board to better curate your content, there's absolutely none of that in here. I'm not sorry I read it but it wasn't quite what I was hoping for, either. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go post some poor-quality photos on my Insta.

3 out of 5 stars

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