Social media, to my mind, has been one of the most impactful outcomes of the digital age. When the cellphone was first invented, I am pretty sure no one imagined just how integral such a device would become to the daily consumer – just think about how lost and vulnerable you feel when you leave your phone at home for the day and have limited access to your Facebook, Twitter and Insta accounts! #worstnightmare!
How many times a day do you feel enticed to check your social media pages? What drives you to check these pages? Is it a simple case of FOMO or is it because you really value the content you are exposed to through these social channels?
Thanks to the emphasis placed on social media and the increased following it has gained since inception, the rise of the social media influencer has occurred. In fact, being a social media influencer is considered one of the hottest jobs currently. And long gone are the days when only those who seemed ‘credible’ – through celebrity status or achievements within the business or sporting fields – where the ones to influence. Today it seems that anyone with a high number of followers can potentially be an influencer.
And this was exactly my perception, until I had the opportunity, through client exposure, to get a more real sense of what this influencer role is all about – and with hindsight, realised I had formulated a rather premature observation of this ability. While it may be true that anyone can become an influencer, there is a fine balance behind those who are successful – and those who will remain relevant in the years to come.
As social media platforms are predominately content driven, I believe that there is an unwritten ethical ‘element’ within the influencer job spec when it comes to the content they promote. This is not just to ensure objectivity, but credibility to the following. However, this can sometimes be missed or overlooked amongst the influencer hype. Yet, this is what should be driving brands when selecting an influencer they want to work with – as it is these influencers who will really add value to their bottom line.
Impactful influencers have a following, not an audience. And an influencer who has built a following out of nothing (meaning they have not relied on past exposure or ‘celebrity status’ to build their personal brand) has likely gained their following based on a few core aspects – their aspirational status, their story or interests, their values/morals/ethics and their ability to provide non-bias advice/opinion. Building their audience has meant that their content has been credible to their core purpose of who they are – and the moment an influencer starts diverting from this, is the moment their impact and following starts to weaken.
And as the influencer market becomes more monetised, I come back to my point about the fine balance behind those who are successful now and those that will maintain success in the future. Those who will remain successful within this growing influencer space are the ones who stay true to their core purpose – the ones who influence, not for the sake influencing, but because of their passion behind their content/beliefs and stories.
I believe that there is immense value in the influencer market – some of which is still untapped. However, it will only be the credible ones who will continuously influence and last – and these are the influencers brands need to seek out and engage.