Swipe Up for More! Inside the Unfiltered Lives of Influences by Stephanie McNeal

c.2023, Penguin Portfolio                              
272 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

Left mouse: buy.

And now you sit. In a few days, that item you saw on social media will arrive on your doorstep and you can’t wait. The price was right no matter how much it cost, because someone online vouched for it and that’s all you need to know. So what do they get in exchange for sharing? In Swipe Up for More! by Stephanie McNeal, you’ll see…

In many ways, we are a nation of voyeuristic consumers. Even author Stephanie McNeal admits to being “nosy,” and wanting a peek inside the lives of people and their belongings. That’s why, she says, she’s “endlessly fascinated by influencers…”

There are, she says, “two distinct groups” of influencers: those who work mostly through YouTube and videos, and those who generally use printed words, texting, and blogs. One entertains, the other is more informative. One is like that friend who comes and goes; the other uses a “more sustained relationship” to market products on behalf of a sponsor.

For reasons that aren’t specific here, Salt Lake City, Utah, is a “fertile crescent” for influencers. It’s also a perfect place to launch a project: McNeal loved to read blogs, so what better idea than to shadow three influencers, to see what life was like for them?

There’s Shannon Bird, a “mommy blogger” who gained followers by featuring her five kids and a very chaotic household. She also gained a whole website full of haters, too.

Cailtin Covington was one of the “pioneers in the industry” but she often hates to admit it. She knows that criticism, both personal and professional, is rampant in her job, and she’s very sensitive to that.

And Mirna Valerio is a bit of a unicorn: she’s African American, older than most other bloggers, and she isn’t tiny or thin. She’s also quite aware that being an influencer-slash-motivator isn’t going to last forever.

While it is (almost) true that Swipe Up for More! meets its intended reason for being (“Inside the Unfiltered Lives of Influencers”), the fact is that there are some wide-open holes in this book that should’ve been addressed.

Money is mentioned a lot here and apparently, influencers make tons of it in this “industry.” And yet, despite wealth as a happy fact, author and journalist Stephanie McNeal isn’t entirely clear on how influencers launch or start, or how they stand out from the millions of other influencers. Pitfalls don’t feature much in this narrative and, aside from the glamorous stuff, how influencers work isn’t obvious, either. Followers wanting ideas and aspirations, and those who are curious, will be disappointed here.

Business owners and professionals might find useful information for this marketing tool, but you’ll have your own annoyances. The word “like” shows up, like, really often, and because it’s, like, everywhere, you’ll notice. It, like, makes the book difficult sometimes.

Overall, if celebrity-watching is your thing and you avidly follow online influencers, you’ll absolutely enjoy this book. If you’re looking for more, though, Swipe Up for More! can safely just be left.