[March 2019] When I started this public display of affection towards Gin and things, I had few expectations. In my
I wanted to find a little corner of the internet where I shared my thoughts. I really only had one guiding mantra; it must be fun. I have a
It also pulled me into a wider world of cocktails, hobby mixologists, home bartenders and imbibers as well as a plethora of fellow gin heads. Which has helped me in my Gin journey. Understanding the gin opens the door on making cocktails that work. Or don’t. I flirt with other drinks
Then something happened. Recently, I was enjoying dinner with some friends and one of them
For the record, I am going to make this very clear. I do not consider myself an influencer. My audience is niche at best. With 1.8k on twitter and 4.8k on IG, at the time or writing. I am not even a minnow in
I have written blogs and things on all sort over the years but I was late to the gin enthusiast parade in 2016. I see new accounts appear almost daily. They come in all different colours and styles. I will subjectively define them. This is not an exhaustive list of “influencer” types. Just my daft way of differentiating them.
- The Enthusiast – The fans.
The peoplewant to share their interest with others. Enthusiasmhere is not a solo pastime. Often found with likeminded people. The train spotters. They join in the discussion, share their hobby and sometimes turn into one of the below.
- The Best Intentions – Starting off with gusto, have the makings of greatness but over time fade away and eventually abandoned.
- The “Close but no cigar” – Set deep in mediocracy, they continue to meander their digital path gently, without breaking into a sweat. They have
potentialfor greatness but avoid the effort and energy needed to make it to the big leagues.
- The Rocks – They are the backbone of their virtual community. Influencing others but not always recognised as the influencer. Like the
comedianscomedian. They lay the foundations. Do the hard work, setting the path for others to follow but with little recognition, reward or wider praise. Often referenced but rarely known, with the odd exception.
- The Numbers – They chase the numbers. They count followers. They count the “Freebies.” They ask for them. “If you give me your thing I’ll share on my thing – just look at my numbers” They pay to grow their social media accounts. They follow, unfollow, follow, and unfollow. It is all about the loot.
- The Genuine – These are the real deal. They put time and effort into their work. Relentless and tenacious. In most cases, organically grown. They are liked. Genuinely liked. Eventually, they get rewarded. Some by way of a career or second income. Some by just the satisfaction they have integrity and respect from their peers. They are driven and do it because of the love of it.
- The Behemoths – Either through being a “genuine” or
thoughother avenues, such as celebrity, have accounts so large, they cannot help but influence. For the purposes of this post, I am going to loosely ignore these guys. That’s a subject all on its own.
- The Experts – The can be any or all. But they know their onions. They often earn a living from their expertise. They are the
go topeople when it comes to answers and when they share, others generally agree or follow. They are often understated. They don’t need anyone to tell them they are good. Subconsciously, they know. They end up writing the books.
So what is an influencer? If you take the Oxford view:
“A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.”
I think this is the common definition. In reality, there are many more nuances. On a simplistic level, we are all influencers. It is nothing new. I am sure you have recommended all sorts to friends. Think films, books, food, restaurants. Product placement was seen in films almost since they started, later moving into radio and television. We, as buyers, have been influenced and perhaps at the extreme, manipulated for centuries. So move forward to the social media age, it is not surprising that this is thriving industry. In exchange for cash or product, one shares something, with the direct intention of the follower to be influenced. It has reached a point where legislation has stepped in to protect the consumer.
Do I influence others? Of course I do, albeit in a very small way. Am I rewarded for it? No. I do get the odd bottle of gin sent to me from time to time. But I do not chase them. I am proud of that. Not sure why I don’t ask. It has become a rule. Don’t ask. I have bought more than I have been given. Fact. But I regularly get messages from others after I have shared a Gin or a cocktail telling me they had tried it.
Let’s be honest here. If we were to put a monetary value on what I do, I would be in the red. The effort to write, photograph, edit and share takes up far more time than the cost of a free bottle of booze.
I have reached a point with this hobby that the fun is slowing down. I feel pressure to post and guilt when I don’t. I have to remind myself this is for fun. Not posting in Instagram for a week or two is okay. No one gets hurt. You are not losing income. Life goes on. Relax. Take your time. Enjoy the ride.
Did someone buy a bottle of Gin after me talking about it? Yes. Does this make me an influencer? I don’t think so. I prefer to think of it as a club. Say a fishing club. Turn up one day with a new bit of kit. Few others have tried this new kit. Others look and ask for an opinion. I share that I like it and I am pleased with the purchase. A few others may get this kit and now it becomes more popular. More people are now talking about it. If it is really good, it does not take long until everyone has one. That’s how I think this Gin Club works. Alone, very few listen. But as part of the club, the word spreads and after seeing other positive comments, others in the club may buy.
Finally, why was I embarrassed to be called an influencer? Being honest, I am not sure. Perhaps it was a touch of imposter syndrome. Doubting that what I do, as a hobby, has any real value to others. Perhaps I was uncomfortable with the term itself? If they had said “Did you see the size of Marcus’s Gin collection” or “Have you seen Marcus’s Instagram account, he’s got loads of stuff on Gin” I may have been a little less embarrassed. But being called an influencer? Nope, not me. I’m just Marcus, the Gin enthusiasts who likes to waffle on about Gin. A Gin Evangelist.