Style Files | Are numbers more important than quality?

When I created my blog in 2011, I had no idea what I was doing and that there were a handful of bloggers in the same city doing the same thing. The digital landscape has changed drastically since then. Blogging is now a serious occupation which so many people are choosing. That's great because the growth in blogging has opened up new avenues for so many, creating healthy competition and high quality content.

Well, that's actually what should have happened. In reality, it didn't. Brace yourself, I'm about to drop some knowledge. Anyone who studied economics 101 will tell you that competition encourages sellers to battle for the top spot by producing high quality goods. In this case, sellers are bloggers/influencers and the goods; their content. So imagine what would happen if they didn't need to organically fight for their seat at the table; that they could just purchase it. That would ruin the balance of the cycle, right? Since the competition would be rigged, there wouldn't be any need to prove themselves and hence, there would a drop in quality.

An image of a woman taking a picture on her phone of a landscape with palm trees as the wind blows her hair

That's exactly what happened in the past 3 years. As the digital sphere got saturated, more bloggers and influencers naturally, wanted their recognition; which leads to big bucks, presents every time you enter the house and sponsored foreign trips. But to be good enough to organically earn that recognition takes incredible amounts of high quality content and patience. Ain't nobody got time for that, at least that's what a large chunk of the influencer sphere thought. Instead of playing the waiting game, they just went out and purchased a bunch of followers.

These are a bunch of bots that inflate the follower count and provide generic engagement. Remember those 'lovely pic' or 'great page' comments? In all likelihood, those are the work of internet robots. Purchasing followers is now pretty common and sort-of an industry secret. It's like plastic surgery - everyone does it but they'd never admit it. They write it down to hard work and strong content; which translates to good genes and 8 glasses of water in the plastic surgery parallel.

An image of macarons in flavours of chocolate, pistachio, caramel and strawberry on a white background being served for dessert

Photography: Raynor Pereira / Style File 

For newbies, fake followers are a starter kit to establish themselves as social media influencers. For more experienced ones, a high follower count is a stepping stone to the digital table which comes with its fare share of designer freebies and press junkets every month. This has led to viscous cycle of joining Instagram, buying a pack of followers, crossing a few thousands every couple of days and finally, being recognised without the realisation that the followers are nothing but empty space.

Saw that I didn't mention quality in the above equation? Because, there's none. Since there's no need to prove oneself, quality is redundant. Who needs to think about styling, shooting, editing and writing blog posts when you can directly upload a grainy selfie on Instagram and buy a few hundred likes for it. To answer my title question; yes, numbers are currently more important that quality.

The silver lining is that the above practices don't apply to every blogger and influencer in the digital space. Like me, there are those who focus on creating thoughtfully worded pieces, carefully shot images and sensibly styled looks rather than playing the numbers game. It may come at the cost of projects and big bucks but if one can afford that, having ethics in the blurry digital world is empowering. Today may be about numbers but tomorrow may not. A day will come where collaborators want accountability and quality, not just bots double-tapping. That day is almost here.


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