Is influencer culture dying?
Though influencers have been around for quite a while, the word, "Influencer", was only officially added to the Oxford English dictionary in 2019 and is described as: "A person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media."
Social media market influencers or just "Influencers" for short have a certain niche or industry in which they have loads of followers on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter where in return their credibility leads to brand deals and collaborations.
Celebrities also became the social norm during this time, to make them more accessible and more personal to their fans. Market research shows that though people were more swayed by their favorite actors, singers and models to buy the products that they were using– or rather - endorsing, but that people were more likely to trust influencers instead.
So what is the big difference between social media influencers and celebrity influencers? Celebrities gain their followers because people may like their music or movies they have featured in whilst social media influencers gain followers based on a specific niche or interest that interests their viewers.
Since the arrival of Instagram in 2010 and Tik Tok in 2016 (known as Musically back in 2014) social media marketing has grown exponentially. Business and brands immediately jumped on the wagon to utilize a person's fame, reputation and credibility as a launching pad to sell their products and or services.
As we've been seeing recently however, scandals such as the 2017 Fyre Festival incident aka "The greatest party that never happened", fake followers and bot technologies have tarnished the public view of influencers and caused a downfall in their popularity and as a result decreased influencer marketing growth.
Though in 2019- 2020, we witnessed what some might describe as “the downfall” of influencer marketing.
Moreover, it seems that people are "over" the traditional influencer marketing fad.
Research shows that micro-influencers have started to produce 60% higher campaign engagement due to their smaller audiences feeling more connected and trustworthy. Studies show that macro-influencers (celebrities or those who have millions of followers) however, drive 22 times less weekly conversion than Micro-influencers. Guess having millions of followers doesn't mean that all of them will engage, in fact, recent research shows that only about 3% of consumers buy products from celebrity influencers. Micro-influencers (influencers with 10 000 to 50 000 followers) also cost less because of their small followings. According to Trend : "In fact, the little guys are the cream of the crop when it comes to ROI. Micro-influencers are a cost-effective option to get more social media engagement."
Lately the demand for more meaningful engagement and self-expression has increased dramatically. Social media has become a "dumping ground" for all sorts of content such as sponsored posts and advertisements.
Lack of authenticity has also become a big problem in social media platforms. People are sick with the old cliche of the "perfect" teeth-whitening kit posts and weight-loss teas. These days we no longer want to follow people who appear to have this "online facade" and want to see the real and raw sides behind the scenes.
Hence, with influencers playing an essential role in business planning, reports reveal brands are increasingly adjusting their social commerce budgets due to changing consumer habits.
Anyone and everyone is trying to become a social media influencer these days. According to Youtuber and social media star Emma Chamberlain predicts a "cultural shift" on the internet. "The industry has become less exclusive and in turn, less credible." She says.
Lots of the activity and interaction on the internet in today's time does not cultivate a quality relationship and we find lots of generic and repetitive promotional content everywhere. According to Bazaarvoice-" 47% of consumers are tired of this repetitive content" and lots of social media platform users are actually abandoning the platforms. Which is probably why brands prefer to communicate and actively engage one-on-one with their audience.
Minus the budgets being cut during the 2019/2020 Covid-19 outbreak, reports show that influencer marketing is still on a decline. However, with the social media algorithm, anyone can have influence, regardless of the amount of followers they have..
SEO and Copywriting algorithms, also provide us with more organic content for us specifically. It is once again becoming popular, as influencers are producing more transparent content. It also allows people to form and find their own communities through shared interests, values and finding their "tribes".
Influencer marketing has shifted from its primary focus on popularity and follower count to appreciating authenticity, transparency and high quality content instead of quantity. Whilst influencer marketing is on the rebound, small or "micro" - influencers have been taking over, celebrities are still used as endorsement for popular brands and businesses, micro-influencers who have more authentic and relatable and relevant content are now utilized. Influencers no longer need to be someone who has a huge access to a huge audience or famous trendsetters. Nowadays even you, your grandmother, best friend or old aunt Karen can be social media influencers!
In conclusion micro and nano-influencers are more trusted and seen as reliable to consumers to boost reach. There may yet still be a place for more "relatable" and "down-to-earth" social media influencers in today's society.
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