The Rise of Social Media Advocate Xiaxue vs. the Demise of Gushcloud
Ah Lian or Popular Influencer
Xiaxue's recent Exposé of Gushcloud and their team of influencer's supposed unethical practices have caused quite a stir in the social media sphere. Coined as an Ah Lian (a pejorative term indicative of an uneducated loudmouth female with no class) by some and a popular blogger cum influencer by others, she has managed to strive amidst controversy as a wild card with a no holds barred persona. You never know what you are going to get and that's the way she likes it.
The thing is that if your reputation is such then sudden talk of ethics for ethics sake isn't going to go down well. Having real ethics require a proven track record of caring about a community at large in a consistent manner over a period of time. The very same bloggers, marketers, companies and audience that she profess to care deeply about are the very same people and community that she is destroying. Can she think beyond a me me me mentality? Does she understand the far reaching repercussions of what she is doing or has her often self-proclaimed "celebrity" status gone to her head?
Going, Going, Gone
Xiaxue - Social Media Advocate
The excerpts in quotes are taken from Xiaxue's blog The Big Gushcloud Exposé 2, posted by Xiaxue on 14/3/15. My opinions are in bold.
"If I responded, it would make everyone call me a bully again. I was also getting accusations that my intention for the original post was so I can benefit Nuffnang and thus myself. And of course, I got sidetracked with the Protection Order business.
As I have mentioned many times, the reason why I wrote my original post is because VINCENT HA CALLED ME A LIAR. I wanted to clear my own name."
Notice how SHE doesn't want to be called a bully, SHE wanted to clear her name.
"People seem to have this notion that exposing Gushcloud will only benefit Nuffnang and thus myself."
"Most big brands don't wish to be embroiled in controversy whether good or bad.
I also had to mentally prepare myself that somehow, if my research went wrongly, I could go bankrupt for writing my expose. The monetary gains don't match up to the risk involved."
Ermmm....yes...her again, her relationship with Nuffnang, her ulterior motive. Her money, her potential bankruptcy.
Then she talked about a higher purpose. That was when I threw my hands up in the air and went, who is she kidding?
Linking Xiaxue with a higher purpose is as far fetched as expecting a hen to quack, it is clearly a fruitless attempt. Or is it?
May the Force Be With You
A Hen that Doesn't Quack
She wrote, "Nobody will risk everything if they didn't believe in a higher purpose. I risked it all because I care, passionately, about this blog advertising industry that I'm a pioneer in. Even though it could adversely affect myself and my industry in the short term, I felt it was necessary to trim out bad practices before they actually become commonplace and cause long term damage."
MAKE UP YOUR MIND, GIRL!
Nuffnang will definitely benefit if Gushcloud loses credibility and a competitor is eliminated. She has openly shared about her allocation of shares in Nuffnang and everyone knows Nuffnang provides her with advertising revenue. So obviously her future is intrinsically tied to Nuffnang's. Just like any employee who hopes her company does well so she has a brighter future, how can she not be bias? It's one thing to want to destroy a competitor, it is quite another thing to paint yourself as a martyr when you are doing it.
Notice she doesn't address this touchy issue in full because well, she can't defend herself and not get slammed further for it. I thought she was such a passionate advocate of ethics to the extent of calling it a higher purpose? *faint*
So why can't she risk incurring the wrath of her audience?
THAT'S LIKE YOU KNOW.......ETHICS. Standing up for something in the face of adversity at all times!
Please. Give me a break.
You cannot sway like a leave in the wind if you believe strongly in something. If she believed so strongly in this cause, she would have spent time and energy on it in the past, right? Was she the face of social media ethics? Was her face plastered across Singapore advocating social media reform that I don't know about? For a person with an available platform and a following, she could have easily done it on a large scale.
You just don't suddenly develop ethics overnight.
Right Here Waiting for You
The Demise of Gushcloud
She is also an advocate of Nuffnang's practices. In this post, she provided a direct comparison of how Singtel's Youth Plan campaign was executed by both companies.
By highlighting Gushcloud's practices which includes inflated statistics for their influencers, lambasting competitors - M1 and Starhub and purposefully not stating it is a paid advertisement versus Nuffnang's which stated when it was a paid advertorial, she is obviously promoting Nuffnang.
Is she trying to kill 4 birds with one stone? Promote Nuffnang, destroy Gushcloud, drive traffic to her blog and still come across as a social media advocate. Woah, sounds good eh?
For herself that is.
Come I clap for you!
She isn't a fool for sure.
Are the very same people (influencers, marketers & readers) and community (advertising companies such as Gushcloud) she purport to care deeply about going to benefit from this?
Misguided influencers discredited and publicly shamed, consumer and marketer's confidence falls, advertising dollars reduced, digital marketers have less revenue, Gushcloud can on longer support their influencers, Gushcloud shuts down, other digital marketing firms might let people go as well.
Look, it's not that I agree with the way Gushcloud and their influencers are behaving. I do not support such behaviour . I do believe in setting an example though, not when it is convenient but all the time even when it is inconvenient. I also do not believe in breaking someone's rice bowl, especially those of misguided impressionable youths who have a dream but lack marketing and advertising knowledge.
It is the fact that influencers often walk a grey line when it comes to advertorials. Just because it is stated that it is a paid advertorial doesn't make it less commercial, it is seemingly more ethical but how much more ethical? The level of ethics have fallen so low after the rise of social media that every tom, dick or harry who have an opinion, aren't professionals in their field can tout their wares......just because. The scary thing is that PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM. Especially impressionable youths and young adults.
Governance hasn't caught up with social media like traditional advertising platforms, for example TV, magazines, newspapers, etc, all of which have long established channels of checks and balances. Social media exist because it fills a gap that traditional media cannot. The very same people who benefit from it are seen as friends who invest time and energy to engage their audience in an intimate manner. But how well do you know them? You know, really really know them? Do they have marketing or advertising experience? Are they good writers? Is there something unique about them? What specific admirable talents that exemplify their passion have they constantly portrayed over time? There are some bloggers and influencers that ARE passionate about certain categories such as food, fashion, etc. Would I be more keen about their recommendations because they maintain focus on their passions, have shown integrity in terms of balanced reviews and have good recommendations? For sure! After I go through my personal set of checks and balances that is. But Xiaxue.......erm........if piecing together a proper sentence is too much to ask, she's not my cup of tea.
Influencers engage their audience day in day out with the hopes of advertising dollars. If there isn't any revenue, can they be bothered? There are some that will do it anyway and sad to say there are many who wouldn't. Not everyone has a love for the written word, not everyone have found their passion. So the basis of interaction for someone such as Xiaxue herself is a commercial one. Every post she makes (paid or unpaid) goes towards her social media bank of influence, her traffic goes up, she can command more in revenue.
So if she doesn't plaster each post with "This will help me get more advertising dollars, not literally this post but it does add to it if you follow me, share my posts or like it, etc." Are all the influencers being dishonest as well? How did influencers like her become an influencer anyway? Do you need to be educated, have tons of charisma, be a good writer, be attractive or just be there at the right time?
I am a Blogger because I am
I too, like many others have long pondered this enigma that is Xiaxue. When she first arrived on the blogosphere, my friends and I ask ourselves how can someone who spew expletives, can't write for nuts even until now and do not have the conventional good looks of a celebrity ever be popular?
Several scenarios crossed my mind.
Scenario 1 is that it's pure luck, she managed to catch a wave at just the right time. She started blogging just when there was traditional celebrity fatigue, people were tired of seemingly out of reach celebrities with their prettier-than-thou attitudes. People wanted realistic examples that they could emulate easily, feel better than, share with, laugh with and yes, sometimes laugh at. Peg her as an opportunistic girl next door or the clueless but lucky Ah Lian who didn't know just how big a role social media will play in terms of advertising dollars. it's your choice! But to call her a poster girl for ethics is a far stretch.
Scenario 2 is that she owned the label of a blogger, well, just simply by claiming it as her own. Just like someone walking up to unclaimed land, sticking a shovel in it and saying this is mine! Call yourself a blogger, tell enough people you are a blogger, do it repeatedly and soon enough you are a blogger. This mentality isn't new. Considering she didn't exactly have many competitors at that point and it was the start of social media as we know it, it wasn't exactly long term planning.
Scenario 3 is that she was probably someone with a lot of time on her hands and saw writing as therapy.
Hey, a girl's got to rant and curse to somebody, eh?
Scenario 4 is that she is someone with enough guts to have a unique point of view and have a strong belief that her voice is valued. She wanted a fast track to stardom and was naïve enough to believe it was possible at a time when the Asian values of harmony still trumps dissension in Singapore. She embodies the dreams of many who want to make it big in different industries and envision a quick rise to fame that social media provides.
My conclusion is that she is all of the above and more.
What truly sets her apart from others is that she understands human nature more than many people. She isn't afraid of acknowledging the grittiness of what captures our attention, in fact she build her reputation on it. She captures her audience with just the right dose of gossip, humour, information, spelling errors, guts, frustration and personal opinion at just the right moment. No one likes a smart alec, no one wants to feel intimidated by writing, we all admire guts to a certain extent and not everyone wants insights when they read.
You can't help but like and dislike her at the same time. But you never dislike her enough or like her enough either, she keeps you on your toes.
© 2015 Min