By Anthony Dean, Founder
If you’re like me, you probably follow at least a few social media influencers. You know, those people with lots of followers who seem to always have the perfect life and the best fashion sense? I used to be really into following them, but lately I’ve been feeling kind of… meh about it all. It seems like the more popular an influencer gets, the less authentic their posts become. And that’s not what I signed up for! So, what do we do when the people we are following stop influencing us? Let’s explore that together.
What is an ‘influencer’ and why do they matter in the first place?
In today’s social media-driven world, the word ‘influencer’ is thrown around a lot. But what exactly is an influencer? An influencer is simply someone who has the power to influence the buying decisions of others. While this may sound like a very broad definition, influencers usually fall into one of two categories: 1) those with a large number of followers and 2) those who are popular within a specific niche.
Brands often work with influencers because they know that their endorsement will lead to more sales. After all, if someone with a large following says they like a product, their followers are likely to trust their opinion and buy more of that product. Similarly, people who are popular within a specific niche are often considered trendsetters. Their followers trust their opinion and look to them to see what products are ‘on trend’. As you can see, influencers matter because they have the power to Influence the buying decisions of others.
How have social media platforms amplified their impact?
Before the age of social media, ‘influencer’ status was limited to celebrities and a handful of popular personalities. But with the rise of platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, anyone with a large following can have a major impact on brands and products. These influencers have the ability to reach a wide audience with their posts and stories, and their fans are often highly engaged.
This means that when an influencer promotes a product, it can quickly become popular with their followers. And since social media is all about being cool and current, brands are often keen to partner with influencers in order to get their products in front of the right people. So it’s no surprise that influencers have become some of the most powerful players in the world of online marketing and retail. Thanks to social media, their reach can be far greater than that of other marketing channels.
Why are influencers losing their influence?
Influencers have been losing their influence lately for a number of reasons. First, paid promotions are becoming more and more common, which makes it difficult for people to trust that the influencer is being genuine about their product recommendations. Generally speaking, followers can now clearly see when a post is ‘sponsored content’.
Second, many influencers seem to be doing it for the wrong reasons – they’re seemingly more focused on building their profile and fame, making money and getting free stuff than on actually helping their followers. On the more extreme side, recent exposés have shown that influencers are not always diligent in deciding what to promote or protective of their reputations the way traditional media have been. In a hilariously sad example, influencers were persuaded to promote a hypothetical beverage containing cyanide among a list of other “organic ingredients” they were super excited about!
And finally, a lot of the content that influencers produce is simply fake – it’s highly edited and often doesn’t match up with reality. As a result, people are starting to tune out influencers and instead seek out advice from friends, family, and other trusted sources. Like they always did.
How is online retail changing?
It’s no secret that social media influencers have a lot of influence – after all, that’s why they’re called ‘influencers’. The problem that brands are experiencing is that connecting with an influencer who is outed as being fake, misleading or inauthentic can drive a wedge between them and their potential customers and stop them from ever returning to the brand.
So why do brands hook up with these inauthentic influencers in the fist place? Most of the time they don’t… the influencer starts by providing authentic advice, grows their followers and is seduced by the dollars available to promote new products. If one or more of the products, or the way they are portrayed, don’t live up to the customers’ expectations, the backlash can be massive.
As a result, brands are increasingly looking for ways to market without using paid influencers. One approach is to focus on micro-influencers, who tend to have smaller but more engaged followings. Another is to use user-generated content, which can be more genuine and relatable than paid promotions. Whatever approach a brand chooses, the goal is the same: to connect with consumers in a way that feels authentic and genuine.
Is there a better way to let shoppers know the truth about a brand’s products?
When you’re considering a new purchase, it can be helpful to connect with someone who is already using the same product. They can answer any questions you have and give you a real review of how the product performs on an unscripted, one-to-one basis. Even better, connecting with someone one-on-one can help you get a feel for whether the product is right for you.
But how do you find someone who owns and uses the exact brand and model of product you are looking at?
This is where LOOKB4 can help. We connect you with a real product user for a one-on-one video call so that you can ask then all of the questions that matter to you before making a purchase – or avoiding one!
No salespeople, no pressure. And definitely no paid influencers… Real reviews, honestly.
Check out www.lookb4.com for more info or search for LOOKB4 in the app stores!