As a student you are probably finding your way in the world somewhat. Whether you still live at home with your parents or have moved out for the first time, this time of your life is a steep learning curve. Our parents, relatives and teachers might tell us everything they think we need to know, but for some reason it sometimes doesn’t feel real or relevant until we learn it ourselves. I’m thinking back to the first time I burnt something in the microwave (quite a feat I know) or the time I bought something I was pressured into buying and then had major regrets. Things stick through experience, which is why we sometimes find it hard to relate to things the “more mature” generation tell us. That’s where influencers come in. Closer to our age and with similar aspirations that we may have, we can relate to them in ways we just can’t relate to our parents or grandparents.

Influencers promote and sell us anything and everything from beauty products through to bitcoins. They are people who live their lives under a microscope like no generation has ever seen before. Every move they make and step they take is shared on social media to be watched, but that also means it is analysed and criticised, so you need to have a strong stomach to be an influencer. They are seen as role models and a lot of people look up to them, this is why it makes me mad when influencers sell their soul for a quick dollar!

More than once I’ve seen people I’ve really looked up to sell out and promote a crappy product or service that they either have never used or you can tell is useless, but for money they will put their name to anything. This might be on an advertising basis where they are paid a flat fee to promote something, or it might be on an affiliate basis, where every sale made from their referral earns them a commission. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m not in the public eye and I don’t have that responsibilty. It’s bad enough when they promote a poor product such as make up, but when it comes to financial matters they really should not be selling out. We have a generation of school, college and university students who need to be set a good example and taught great financial education to set them up well for life, and yet there are some people who are more focused one making money for themselves, and will happily leave us feeling like we’ve thrown away or burnt money!

How to not get taken in by an influencer

There are loads of things you can do to not be taken in or fooled by an influencer, and here’s some of our favourites:

Research the influencer

  • Have they been around long?
  • Have they ever been involved in anything controversial?
  • Have they ever had any negative press previously?
  • What are their values?
  • What kind of products and services do they promote?
  • How many products and services do they promote?

None of these may be a deal breaker on their own, but doing some research and due diligence you will see whether this is the kind of person you can align yourself and your values with and understand whether they are likely to be recommending things which are genuinely good for you.

Research the product or service

  • Has the product or service been around for long?
  • Have you checked out the manufacturer/retailer on review sites (use more than one as it is easy to manipulate reviews on some sites)?
  • What are the company’s ethics and values (testing on animals, paying living wage to employees etc)?
  • What kind of celebrities or influencers do they work with?

Again, none of these might automatically rule them in or out for a purchase that you are considering, but it will help you make an informed decision.