Social media plays a big part in our lives today. The last decade saw social media grow rapidly with 45% of the world’s population actively using social media platforms, according to 2019 We Are Social report. A trend that has risen in the digital world is of influencers who are members of society that build a reputation for their knowledge on a specific topic by regularly posting about certain topics on their social media channels. This generates a large following of people who pay close attention to their views. The size of the following however, depends on the popularity of their niche. The form of influence can vary as no two influencers are the same and with the right engagement one can reach the correct target audience and build trust.
Social influencers have impacted our lives in ways we do not realise. Influencers have immense power to affect others and their decision-making because of their knowledge, position and/or relationship with their audience. The types of influencers can also be differentiated either by their content, level of influence or the niche in which they operate. Since, they often have a huge fan following, companies ask them to advertise their products or services.
Influencer marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools where it takes the idea of celebrity endorsement while placing it into a modern-day content driven marketing campaign, the only major difference being that instead of celebrities, uses influencers. Influencer marketing has the ability to bring about change as nearly 34% of daily US Instagram users procured something because an influencer recommended it. From the marketer’s perspective, in the US alone, 66% businesses increased their influencer marketing budgets in 2019.
However, despite its positive aspects of reaching large audiences and directly connecting with them, creating original content and spreading awareness about global issues, there are downsides to social media with regard to what influencers are trying to inspire and whether it always has a constructive effect or not, remains questionable. Social media only shows the sides of people they want the world to see, which may just be conjured up to sustain weak egos.
We are continuously bombarded with ads and videos which impact us because they affect how we feel and how we want to be seen by others. Many are constantly on their phones exposing themselves to trends which influencers set for us. Influencers however, seem to be doing more harm than good by making consumers (us) increasingly image-obsessed and putting our mental state at risk as they use their power to make us to purchase something we may not need. They advertise clothing, makeup, shoes and health products that would help make us look and feel better about ourselves. The ads set standards for what is ‘good’ in our society — which is why influencers do more damage than good as we mould ourselves to live up to society’s standards.
Moreover, many consumers of these posts, tweets and videos are individuals who are not as capable of discerning good from bad, right from wrong and true from false. Yet this very population makes up a majority of social media influencers or their followers, presenting us with a filtered reality that makes everything look better than it is. The fear of missing out prevails where one feels that everyone is living better lives. And influencers themselves can get addicted to a need for constant validation in the form of likes. Therefore, in a world where lives are designed, edited and publicly viewed, the boundaries between online and offline identities may get blurred and one should be mindful of an audience watching, identifying and persistently following one’s behaviour.
This article was originally published at: https://tribune.com.pk/story/2290398/the-influencers-stunt
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.