Age of the influencer: Over or simply evolving?

Original Article

An influencer is someone who moves culture and changes consumer behavior by sharing content on the internet. Years back, the influencer marketing field was restricted just to celebs as well as a couple of devoted blog owners. Now an influencer has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.

The size of the following relies on the size of his/her topic of the specific niche. It is important to keep in mind that these individuals are not simply advertising devices, but rather social connection properties with which brands can work together. 2021 will see the rise of increasingly multi-platform influencers, complicating discovery, strategy and measurement, and attribution.

The social influencer advertising world has to this point been propped up by the assumption that influencers are modern-day celebs. Due to their perceived power with their target audience, as well as the positive association that comes with brand collabs, digital influencers do charge a premium on brands for collaboration.

My forecast for the longer term is that influencers are more likely to be seen for what they truly are: Distribution networks. Brands will certainly, for that reason, have a standard metric to gauge influencer advertising and marketing which isn’t variably connected to the perceived relationship that an influencer has developed with their followers.

There is only one kind of marketing that has ever been most successful: Word-of-mouth recommendations from people we all know. That’s also the one medium that historically marketers had little ability to tap into. Celebrity endorsements were as close as they may come, but knowing who the person on TV is simply isn’t as knowing the person. Over the past 10 years, influencer marketing progressed because it effectively fills this need.

Three expansive patterns are driving the fate of influencers:

•Everyone’s an influencer

•Direct, authentic connections

•New tools to formalise and monetise

Everyone’s an influencer

While internet connectivity itself made the planet a bit smaller, it also made consumers way savvier about – and annoyed with – advertising. Marketers liked to blame ad-blocking software for its lack of effectiveness, but that ignores the very fact that solutions like that exist because consumers wanted them.

According to one TikTok executive, every single TikTok video is given 100 views. How the video performs in those 100 views – how many of us like it, comment on it, share it – determines the number of people who will see the video in their feed, and so on. Anyone can go viral if their content is good enough. Fame is democratised.

Take Charli D’Amelio. A year prior, D’Amelio was a person that downloaded and installed an application called TikTok. In a year, she’s got 87 million followers, made $ 4 million, signed up with a leading Hollywood talent agency, and has come to be the brand new face of Hollister.

The influencer marketing industry is valued at $ 15 billion by 2022, up from $ 8 billion in 2019, and its development is fueled by the long tail of influencers. A general truth on internet platforms is that smaller audience sizes have higher engagement rates. In other words, someone with 1,000,000 followers might average 1% engagement (likes + comments) on their posts. Someone with 100,000 followers, meanwhile, might average 5% engagement. This suggests that “micro-influencers” – people with ~10k to ~100k followers – have better economics for brands.

As an example, Nike could spend its entire $ 1,000,000 budget to hire LeBron James, who has a ~1% engagement rate on his posts. Or it might work with 1,000 micro-influencers, each with 50k fans, and receive more impressions per dollar spent. Companies like Glossier and FabFitFun have built huge businesses by leveraging micro-influencers and user-generated content. In a meeting, Glossier’s Emily Weiss claimed: “Every individual is an influencer.”

Direct, authentic connections

The internet-enabled unprecedented access to celebrities, and therefore the celebrities who have done best in social media are people who have leaned into this access. Influence isn’t any longer about being an elusive star on the red carpet; influence is about being intimately familiar and relatable.

The trend towards internet-driven authenticity cuts across industries. Take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). AOC isn’t a conventional social media influencer, but her political success was born from her social media savvy. AOC grew up with the web and understands the way to forge direct, personal connections together with her followers. Her command over digital distribution channels – her fluency in social media – gives her a grip over older politicians still rooted in 20th-Century media. AOC’s playbook foreshadows the following generation of politics.

New tools to formalise and monetise

The internet made it possible for an influencer to launch right into a business. From Gwyneth Paltrow (Goop) to Jessica Alba (Honest Company) to Ryan Reynolds (Aviation Gin), major stars introduced their brands via the internet. This was a breakthrough; in the past, pop music superstar Rihanna would certainly be stuck partnering with Estée Lauder instead of developing her own brand Fenty. Businesses like Shopify, Stripe as well as Instagram made this possible for the big names in the music and entertainment industry. However, business development was only easily accessible to mega-influencers. You don’t need to need to be “Kylie Jenner famous” to release your very own brand. In the Influencer 2.0 age, anybody will have the ability to launch a brand.

Direct-to-consumer brands have battled the increasing acquisition costs on Google along with Facebook. Influencer brands prevent this problem: Influencers simply use their social networks to drive organic customer leads and reach. This is how specifically Kylie Cosmetics hit/struck $ 300 million in first-year earnings with a $ 0 advertising spend. The only drawback is that this method is completely dependent on a single person. When Kylie Jenner took a social media break throughout her pregnancy, sales instantaneously dropped 50%.

OnlyFans and the Influencer 2.0 era

It’s delicate to draw lessons from OnlyFans because it’s a different platform. But there are lessons to be drawn from OnlyFans’ success because the platform captures all three of the aforementioned trends. For those of you wondering what’s OnlyFans, it is a subscription social platform revolutionising creator and fan relationships. Creators can lock their content behind a paywall, allowing fans access for a monthly fee or one-off tip. Consumers were already inquiring about a paywalled platform where the biggest fans could be closer to their idols.

In the past on Instagram, some influencers hacked the “Close Friends” feature, which lets users post stories visible only to a particular group of individuals. Influencers charged some bucks a month for access to their close friends, essentially the identical model that OnlyFans has formalised today.

OnlyFans is remarkable since it has all the trademarks of an Influencer 2.0 system. Lines blur between the three trends above; many Influencer 2.0 companies touch on more than one.

Influencer 2.0 also cuts across many of the trends:

1. The future of work: In 2020, numerous influencers made money on social systems like Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, as well as TikTok. These influencers are the structure of the “solopreneur” sensation, which is disaggregating work and also altering the significance of a career.

2. Consumer social and next-gen media: Content platforms are the structure of the influencer movement. They determine how people create and interact (a recent example: The emergence of TikTok).

3. Commerce: Influencers are the future of discovery-driven, brand-centric commerce. This indicates that they’re compared to an and also search-driven, brand-agnostic business. A tool such as Shopify and Stripe makes influencer commerce possible.

Most importantly, the Influencer 2.0 age period catches what the web does best. It gets rid of gatekeepers, expands accessibility, and also creates opportunity. From personal experience, influencer advertising is a troublesome nut to crack. It’s simple to drop under the catch of doing random acts of influencer marketing and also truly not developing a partnership or offering a value exchange to individuals you recognise as influencers in your space.

The influencer economy remains wild because we have not cracked the code of influence. Now the table is finally set for this problem to be addressed. There are more than 100 million influencers to pick, making the possibility greater than ever before that the ideal advocates for your brand are out there waiting for you, if only they could be discovered. As influencer marketing becomes more commonplace amongst marketers, its evolution is a few things that marketers looking to innovate must track, understand, and sustain with.

(The writer is the Director at Isobar. He’s the highest globally and locally awarded digital planner in Sri Lanka. During the past five years, he has bagged 80-plus global and local awards in the same field. His lecturing efforts have helped over 4,000 students and business owners embrace digital marketing)

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