Influencers: so hot right now.
Entire public relations programs are now being developed, not with an influencer component, but with influencers at the center of their strategy.
Product reviews and demos and special access once reserved for traditional media are now being reserved exclusively for social media power users to share and talk about with their followers (with specialized hashtags, of course).
And floating around on the periphery is earned print coverage. But that seems to be just a nice-to-have now, as opposed to the past when it was a driving force.
The thinking goes that audiences are more apt to consume or buy something their peers push on to them, as opposed to a product or service they read about in a newspaper, or learned about on the morning news.
So much money is being thrown at influencers that these social power users are suddenly inundated with requests to hawk products from big brands. And you can’t blame them for not declining because there is big money to be made.
I don’t know about you, but I get turned off when I see someone sharing content that was obviously bought and paid for. Most of us know who the brands are targeting, even if those influencers aren’t implicit that they are being paid (even though, legally, they should be.)
More and more sponsored content is filling our feeds, and we’re finding it harder and harder to remember what it was like when users used social channels for fun.
But what happens when the influencers start to lose their influence?
Studies show that Instagram engagement (at least for July) was down. That could just be a blip. It could be due to summer. Or, it could be a trend.
Either way, we have to consider the fact that we might be seeing user fatigue with all of the sponsored content they have to scroll through to get to the organic stuff.
I think all of us want to rage against the machine, at least a little bit. But when we see people “selling out” (in this case, taking money from a brand to talk about them) it can be a bit disheartening. Like, this tool brought us together because it was human. But now you’re just another corporate shill.
Okay, maybe that’s taking it too far. But the best social apps instill a sense of community in us; a place we can go to chat, commiserate, or interact with our friends and others who see the world the way we do.
But when dollar signs get in the way, it tends to turn us off.
The influencers are laughing all the way to the bank right, but maybe soon, their fans will start to turn away and find some other avenue to share their stuff.
When that happens, what happens to the influence?