An Open Letter to Jessy Taylor: This is Why Your “Influencer” Gig isn’t Sustainable
For anyone following the latest Instagram drama, Jessy Taylor might be a familiar name.
If you haven’t been following the Jessy Taylor saga (because, let’s face it, we all have other things we should be doing), here’s what happened: Jessy Taylor is an online influencer who recently had her Instagram account deleted following a string of reports by other users. These reports stemmed from some comments that she made in a recent livestream wherein she called another woman a “hood rat” and followed that up by saying, “I am a racist. I am a racist.” Although she’s since claimed publicly that she didn’t mean what she said and that she simply said those things for attention, she is still facing massive backlash.
While her comments are undeniably horrible, that’s not really what I want to talk about today. Instead, I want to talk about what happened after her account was deleted.
Jessy Taylor’s Viral Video
On April 4th, Jessy Taylor uploaded a video titled “STOP REPORTING MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT” in which she sobs and talks about her lack of marketable skills and how unprepared she is for a traditional 9–5. The video quickly spawned a whole host of articles mocking the influencer for her meltdown. However, I think there’s a point that many of these opinion writers are missing.
Was Jessy’s reaction over the top and a little out of touch? Definitely. Was it unreasonable? Not completely.
Prior to her account’s deletion, the influencer was followed by over 110 thousand people. Jessy started her online career as a livestreamer but seems to make her money through sponsorship deals and subscriptions to her onlyfans page.
For Jessy, losing her IG account is like losing her job. Overnight, she saw her main source of revenue completely disappear, and while most of us don’t go upload a three minute video of ourselves crying into the camera when we experience a setback, I think most people would understand why that would be upsetting.
But here’s the thing: It didn’t have to be this way.
With online “influencing” becoming a common way to make money online, more people are depending on social media for their livelihoods, which, as Jessy’s experience illustrates, can be pretty unsustainable.
We saw a similar thing happen on a larger scale with YouTube’s adpocalypse, in which advertisers boycotted the platform and demanded that their ads be pulled from content that was not considered “family friendly.” As a result, many YouTubers saw their videos become demonetized and their sole source of income completely dry up.
While most of us don’t rely solely on social media to make a living, personal branding through social is a common ways for bloggers, entrepreneurs, and business owners to build a following and market to their audience. So in these uncertain times, how do you safeguard your online brand?
How to Protect Your Online Brand
If you depend on one specific social platform for brand building, advertising, costumer relations, and so on — you’re playing a risky game.
Now, I can already hear you saying, “Yeah, but my account would never be taken down because I follow all the rules.”
It doesn’t matter.
Besides the possibility of having your account banned, there are so many other factors that are out of your control. What if the platform changes its policies? What if it loses popularity? What if it shuts down? I’ll tell you — You’re screwed.
Recently, Facebook and Instagram suffered outages that left some users unable to access the platforms. While the longest outage lasted only a day, there were still many people who took to Twitter to complain that they were unable to do their job without these social networks.
That’s why, whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or influencer, you need to diversify your social media marketing mix. Make sure that you’re gathering leads via email lists, directing traffic to your website and other social media accounts, and building up your content across social platforms. After all, there’s always the possibility that you may wake up tomorrow and lose your entire follower base. Then what? How will you reach your followers to announce a new product launch? How will you regain lost sponsorship deals? How will you connect to your customers?
While it’s easy to laugh at people like Jessy Taylor, her experience teaches us all a valuable lesson about putting all your eggs in one basket. Whenever you rely on a platform like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram, you are beholden to someone else’s policies, technology, and vision. While it may seem stable one day, you never know when the tides may turn.