Arts & Entertainment | May 31, 2019 6:00 am

Is the Instagram Influencer Bubble Finally Bursting?

Or is one popular user with two million followers pulling a fast one on us?


The internet loves watching the mighty fall, even (or maybe especially) when the mighty is just a teenager who couldn’t sell 36 tee-shirts.

Arii, an 18-year-old Instagram influencer, took to the platform earlier this week to let her followers know that an upcoming partnership with a clothing company had fallen through after her first drop sales didn’t meet the brand’s minimum requirement.

“Unfortunately the company that I’m working with goes based on your first drop sales,” she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post, as reported by Buzzfeed. “In order for them to order and make my products (even to keep working with them) I have to sell at least 36 pieces (knowing I’ve become super irrelevant, I already knew it was gonna be hard) but I was getting such good feedback that people loved it and were gonna buy it. No one has kept their word so now the company won’t be able to send out the orders to people who actually bought shit and it breaks my heart.”

Many took the influencer’s failure to sell a mere 36 tee-shirts to her 2.6 million followers as a sign of the end times for influencer culture in general.

“The influencer bubble is bursting,” wrote one Twitter user who shared a screenshot of Arii’s original Instagram post and encouraged the influencer to instead “focus on genuine engagement and not followers.”

Plenty of others chimed in on social media as well, attributing Arii’s dismal sales to her lack of a “real” brand and a failure to adequately promote the product.

In a major plot twist, however, a few Twitter users suggested Arii may just be a more shrewd businesswoman than we thought, arguing that the influencer may have staged her own product failure as a publicity stunt.

“The failure and subsequent pity party IS her marketing angle and she’ll use it later to pivot and say how she overcame adversity and try to sell ebooks on the road to success,” wrote one influencer conspiracy theorist.

While Arii maintains her brand failure story in a recent post, it’s not totally hard to believe that the whole thing could have just been a genius publicity stunt, especially after another influencer’s fake Coachella visit went viral last month. After all, if Arii had sold 36 tee-shirts, would you be reading about it right now?

This all begs the question: has the influencer bubble burst, or have we simply reached influenception?

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