Influencers. Anyone can be one. The loose definition of an influencer is an individual with at least 1000 followers with an above average impact on a specific social media demographic. But with platforms like Instagram being flooded with self proclaimed influencers, how does the average person differentiate between hard working entrepreneurs and those that are ‘fake famous’ and lacking credibility?
True influencers certainly wield some power. Brands are no longer in full control of their products; influencers are connected to increased consumerism and, like a modern day infomercial, can showcase a product and increase sales better than the company’s own marketing team.
But times are changing. The average consumer is more savvy and cause-oriented. And while followers may still be willing to buy products that are ‘advertised’ on social media, they are increasingly seeking recommendations from credible sources and have become more aware of polished influencers who are more concerned with the currency of ‘likes’ and the false pretences of perfection than celebrating authenticity.
During the pandemic, influencers with an underscore of privilege were dragged for being tone def. There became a greater emphasis and support on mental health. And as hair salons were shut down and grey roots took hold, the idea of perfection became less attainable and better understood as nonsense. Kendall Jenner, for instance, faced backlash for posting her elaborate birthday party at the height of pandemic restrictions. While Selena Gomez this week earned praise this week for posting a body positive Tik Tok and declaring that ‘real stomachs’ are back.
While the early days of social media’s blurry photos with dim lighting and a basket of laundry in the background are long gone, audiences are definitely more aware now that images and lifestyles portrayed online are done so with massive help from pro cameras, quality lighting and editing software.
So, while anyone can be an influencer, the key moving forward may be to ditch the fake and embrace the real. Audiences will feel good about taking recommendations from a brand they can trust and they’ll breathe a collective sigh of relief when another stubborn grey pops up.
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