Monday 3 October 2022

Running the gauntlet of influencer clout blackmail

Be glad for the professionalism

I got involved in a thread conversation on Twitter this morning because I felt there was a seething sense of entitlement bordering on blackmail that could not be overlooked. The poster had used the services of a skin specialist whose professionalism had eradicated hyperpigmentation from his face, and one would assume out of customer satisfaction, the poster recommended other people to the skin specialist.

It transpired that the skin specialist told the poster that through his recommendation, some 500 other clients had used his professional services. The skin specialist thanked the poster for the recommendation and that should have been enough.

This is just barefaced entitlement

However, the poster did a mental calculation on the 500 clients, imagined the total income from that clientele and came to the conclusion that the skin specialist’s gratitude could have been better expressed in a probably a free year of skincare services and so by inference labelled the skin specialist an ingrate for getting all that custom and providing no tangible reward.

Now, I cannot say how large the skin specialist’s business is, but one thing is certain, if the skin specialist had not achieved the results of fixing the poster’s face, everything else that resulted in referrals, increased clientele and additional income from the clients would not have happened. What professionals do is provide a service for which they get paid and if the customer decides to recommend them, that is a bonus.

Please respect the professional

What I take issue with is people who having obtained a good professional service for which time and resources have been meticulously devoted expecting to get a free service in reward for their recommendations. It is one thing to have agreed beforehand that you will bring custom to a business for some reward, and it is another to expect a reward from having benefitted from a service. If it is exclusively your decision to recommend a business, do not return to blackmail the business owner into giving you a free service.

In fact, professionals should always be treated as professionals with skills on the market to be monetarised, please respect the professional, and pay up. For example, would anyone having had a successful surgical procedure and then recommended the surgeon to others now expect the surgeon to provide free services for subsequent surgeries as an expression of gratitude? What makes a surgeon different from a skin specialist or a computer expert except for the tendency to denigrate and contemn one in relation to the other?

Paying forward is better

I have recommended businesses and services just as I have written reviews about services that have not been to a professional standard either to get them to change or to alert other customers about issues with the business. Where my reviews have redounded to the bottom line, I do not stand at the gate seeking compensation or reward, I pay fully for the service provided respecting what they do.

My principle is to pay forward rather than seek reward, what I can afford, I pay for, if the business wants to be generous, that generosity is better directed to those in need. I would not let acquisitive greed deprive others of opportunity and access. Like if the skin specialist offered a free session, I would probably suggest it be given to someone who needs it but cannot afford it.

It is blackmail, no less

This brings me to the issue of influencers; these are people who have a large following due to activity in their situation who have consequently promoted a business or service to their followers. Whilst I cannot essentially class fame or infamy as a profession, some do use their influencer clout to then attempt to blackmail businesses, services, or professionals into providing free products and services for exposure to their following.

For some businesses, there can be a beneficial end to that, but to put upon a professional and predicate that by your influence their business has survived and without you, they will be nothing is quite an aggrandisement and close to delusions of grandeur. It is the professional’s prerogative to express gratitude as they deem fit without having to be excoriated or abused for just expressing thanks instead of doling out freebies.

Ultimately, if you can’t pay for the service, go elsewhere. If you feel entitled to a free service, find a gullible professional ready to sacrifice their professionalism for your influencer schtick. Enough of the backhanded recommendations seeking reward, if anything, it is utterly reprehensible, and I have no qualms about calling it out.

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