Rathfinny Wine Estate

The Rise of the Influencer

Nowadays, I can’t take a bite of my meal without snapping it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter first. I’m passive-aggressively outraged if a dining companion tucks into their starter while I’m still trying to find my best lighting. The #nofilters photo of my Eggs Florentine at an Insta-friendly cafe, which only took 110 dry-runs to get right, followed by #blessed and the praying-hands emoji…is the depressing reality of where it’s all come to. Bear with me, it gets more cheerful.

Putting together the invitee list for our big Rathfinny launch in London, now set for April 2018 (available to purchase in June), got me thinking. It struck me that if this is to go off with a #bang, we’d need to invite some influencers along. Only thing is, I had no idea what influencers were, where they lived, what they did, was I one? I then realised, neither of my twitter followers had ever retweeted any of my posts, so I couldn’t be. 

I’ve since come to learn that these are people who take cutesy pictures and upload them onto social media…for a living. Some brands even pay them to take snaps of their products and hashtag the living daylights out of them to their armies of followers. I can categorically confirm then, I am not one.

At an event the other day, I met a group of these mythical people, who patiently explained to me exactly what they did; they belonged to an Insta-Hub, of course. Apparently, there are Insta-Hubs all over the country, each housing teams of photographers who are invited to events by companies, so they can record and publicise them. So far, so mind-blowing.

These guys seem to have taken over the mantle from the ‘old media’ dinosaurs, otherwise known as journalists. I found this interesting, particularly in a selfish way, as I write the drinks column for the Metro. For fear of bringing it back to myself, was I, along with other mainstream ‘old media’ journalists, facing extinction? Would we be uncovered by the disproportionately small brushes of curious archaeologists in years to come? Not going to lie, I was starting to panic.

The Insta-Hubbers then made an interesting point that managed to put my mind at rest, that everything is cyclical. Although people are now used to consuming to-the-minute news whenever they want it, there is a noticeable shift towards old media publications and the idea of ‘having something in your hand’, with actual pages to turn. There is so much ‘noise’ in the online space, people are starting to get fatigued and bloated from useless-information-overload. To my mind, it’s the equivalent of binging on a diet of junk food and needing a detox.

What has survived in both new and old media is the concept of trust. Whatever you want to call it, ‘influencer’, ‘guru’ or ‘journalist’ is a source you can rely on that makes you go back time and again. This isn’t a new concept, it just becomes updated according to the times. Their weapon is objectivity, and this starts to weaken when they have an obvious association with a particular brand, as inevitably the lure of monetisation becomes too strong for some to resist. Those that keep their integrity receive the ultimate gift of longevity, in a business with a notoriously short shelf-life.

Latterly, Sommeliers and chefs have become influencers, diners and peers their ‘followers’. Our greatest ‘influencers’ are those that know us and our brand and have visited us. Ultimately the wine will do the talking and we hope that at the launch, and when the wine is available in June, everyone who tastes it will become influencers. If we’re lucky, we might even hear some actual newspaper pages turning too…#liveinhope

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