I Was a Polemic Influencer; You Shouldn’t Try to Be like Me

Desiree Peralta

We don’t really care about you.

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Photo by Bia Sousa from Pexels

Thousands of followers, a community to express yourself, brands that want to collaborate with you, and the possibility of working from your bed by “just” uploading a photo.

All of this sounded like a dream come true in 2014 when Insta-influencers started to catch on, or that’s what I thought when I started a page a few years ago to make a side hustle.

One of my main goals was to work online while studying, and the fastest way I found to accomplish this goal was by being a “Polemic influencer.

Basically, my way of operating was to have a radical opinion of a sensitive subject to generate fights, views, and sometimes, insults. I did not even agree with many of the opinions that I posted, but since it was a topic of general interest, I had to talk about it.

The account reached almost 80,000 followers in less than nine months, and then I decided to abandon it because the project was a complete failure.

This is because Followers or engagement are not the only way to measure the success of a page, and my account failed in the only thing I expected it to do: Create a community.

If you plan to grow a page, an account, or a channel with this practice, consider these points first to see if this type of marketing is really worth it to your project.

“Bad publicity is publicity too” is a lie.

There is a popular phrase around the world that says that there is no bad publicity and that “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

However, this is not entirely true. The “bad publicity” I was having for being controversial and against practically everything did not allow me to get good sponsorships because the brands did not identify with the hate messages I was transmitting on my page.

One person one day told me, “the only thing you gain by speaking badly of everyone is scaring brands when you say you want to talk about them.

In my articlePolemics in Marketing — It Works, But It’s Not Worth It,” I talk about the disadvantages of making controversy in marketing as a brand. Basically, it is not worth the results, and it can be worse for a company:

“Polemic in the marketing works, but have in mind two fundamental aspects: being clear about the message that we are trying to transmit and generating the expectation that we believe is good for who we want to reach. We have to be careful with the messages that we are going to send when we create those types of campaigns because otherwise, it could be worse for the company.”

Bad publicity isn’t good anymore. People are more and more aware of companies in the market and become more skeptical when buying from a business. If a person does not identify with the brand or those who influence it, they may not buy.

I didn’t really care about my followers.

For many, the purpose of having a large following is to have a community to advise, motivate and help. When you’re a controversial influencer, the only thing you care about is being viral. Therefore, followers are just numbers, not people who really care about your content and vice-versa.

For this reason, the content that I uploaded was not dedicated to helping or motivating anyone; I simply talked about what was popular at the time regardless of whether I really identified with that topic.

With this, three things happened to me that made me lose credibility:

  • I contradicted my own post, so people stopped believing my words because they did not understand which side I was on. One day, I talked about how beach parties should go to jail, and another day I was giving beach party ideas.
  • I began to lose followers who began to follow me for a specific reason and have many different people who don’t like anything in particular. This made it difficult at a certain point to go viral because I no longer knew what kind of content my mixed followers liked.
  • In general, no one followed me for my content but for knowing the next gossip.

At that moment, I realized that I didn’t really care about my followers. I was not interested in knowing them to have better content or promote something really worth it because I did not know them.

Not having followers who like specific content makes it practically impossible to monetize your page at the business level. If you want to sell something, you don’t know how many people will buy that product.

For example, my 80,000 followers were people from different countries with different inclinations and beliefs.

When I started making content that I enjoyed and educational posts, then I had almost no engagement. So even if you want to do that practice to gain followers and start making good content, it would be like if you bought followers.

It is an empty road that leads nowhere.

According to several sources, being an influencer has many advantages: build a community that can help you create a business, work with several brands, make money talking about products, inspire people, make a difference, and goes to big events.

As I said before, the kind of content I was making made it impossible for me to take advantage of practically all the benefits of having many followers.

While I worked advertising some brands, there were not enough to make a living with it, and it was hard to find people that wanted to collaborate with me. I didn’t inspire anyone, nobody invited me to events, and I couldn’t build a business from that account.

In the end, I only had a big account that only worked as a hobby.

The initial purpose of creating this account was to do a side hustle, but being controversial got me nowhere.

As a business owner, you should keep in mind the pros and cons of doing different marketing campaigns. If the purpose of having a social media presence doesn’t match your business vision, then it’s not worth it.

This is not how I wanted to be remembered.

While many people pretend not to care what others think, we are social creatures and want to fit in. When you die, people will remember you by your successes in life as much as by your failures.

In some cases, your failures often overshadow your successes depending on their impact on others’ lives.

I realized that no one would remember me for the person who managed to get an account to 80,000 followers or create a new way of marketing. They would remember me for being a troublesome person with an account that no one wanted to be a part of.

No business, money, or fame is worth the peace and happiness that it gives you to be known (even just among your family and friends) for being a good person. And understanding how I wanted to be remembered helped me change the way I decided to do another business.

Final thoughts

In the end, no effort I made was worth it. My account was reported several times, I did not earn money with it despite having many followers, and I could not benefit from it at a product or marketing level.

Even if you want to do that practice to gain followers and start making good content later, you will not have the engagement you desire. This is because people followed you for a specific reason, and they will not change because you do.

I was lucky to be anonymous at the time, but many people and brands are listed as problematic despite changing their behaviors when they mature.

No money or fame that you can get by being a problematic person is worth as much as the peace of being responsible with your words. Believe me; this is not how you want to be remembered.

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Turning ideas into reality. Programmer by profession, Writer by passion. Writing, productivity, and self-development advice.

Yonkers, NY
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