“Perhaps if you went out and got real jobs you’d be able to pay for goods and services like everybody else,” wrote Paul Stenson of The White Moose Cafe in a post that effectively bans all bloggers from staying at their lodge. These drastic measures were taken against a social media influencer who has since exposed herself, Elle Darby. Her crime? Putting forth a proposal for an exchange of services.
On the 16th of January, the establishment published an email with redacted personal details onto their Facebook page. The screenshot depicts a request for four nights at the accommodation in return for exposure. Attached with the post was a snarky commentary from the establishment itself, detailing why they would not be requiring her services in a condescending tone which some have found humorous (the author included) and proceeded to generate publicity for themselves and made merchandise of the incident.
The influencer on the other hand, made a tearful video and in it admitted that she was the one who contacted the establishment for a free stay. Many felt she uploaded the video in a bid for attention and the fact that the video is monetized supports the fact. Following the incident, she has reached out to many media outlets to share with them how she has become a target for bullying.
While this incident is a classic case of self-victimising, the establishments have made a few fair points and have done so ingeniously. Although they have since posted a play-by-play on their newly minted blog, detailing the thought process behind every move they have made.
According to this case study, the first step to becoming a successful influencer is to optimize exposure. The cafe jumped on the opportunity and did not back down because they did not single out any one person for their behaviour. They took one example and turned it into a teaching experience. By doing so, and with their tongue in cheek, they continued to fan the flames while provoking angry commenters and making headlines.
One thing to come away with from this debacle is that nobody should ask another business for free services or products, especially in an impersonal email which does not convey any sincerity whatsoever. If bloggers would like to be taken seriously as a new crossbreed of advertisers cum entrepreneurs, dabbling in SEO and attempting to make it to the ‘big leagues’, it should be understood that one has to deal with things professionally, which, could be hard considering it is such a new industry that there are no hard and fast rules. However, if either had taken things down a notch, the publicity generated around this episode would not have gone to such numbers.
The owner of the cafe has asked the public to refrain from bullying the influencer in a slew of tweets, which has largely gone ignored. However, despite his pleas, he could not help himself from poking fun at the girl, tweeting: “Cyber bullying is a serious allegation. As someone who was bullied in school, I despise bullies. I’ve always said that I don’t condone the unjustified comments the girl is getting, but I don’t agree that the cyber bullying card be used as a tool to generate cash via YouTube views”.
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