The Social Media Sweet Spot

Influencer Marketing 2.0

by Valerie Gunthel

I woke up this morning and, as usual, spent a solid ten minutes scrolling through the Instagram feed on my phone, looking for the motivation to get up and start my day. It’s become somewhat of a ritual, a habit of sorts. I don’t really want to shake off, and I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. We are a community of hundreds of millions of users, eagerly perusing social media platforms, looking for the next big trend, whether that’s avocado on toast or another miracle beauty product from Korea. I don’t want to admit it (of course not!) but whatever expertly cropped images I’ll be exposed to each morning will no doubt have more of an impact on me than anything else I’ll be seeing that day. And this doesn’t just apply to Instagram.

It’s really very smart! Increasingly, companies have started to realise that mass-advertising isn’t nearly as effective as it was twenty years ago, with TV commercials fading in the background like white noise and more and more people installing ad blockers on their computers. These days, social media celebrities are doing the heavy lifting. The politically correct term is “influencer”, a person who has gathered a great amount of followers on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and who uses his/her fame to influence people’s opinions about certain things. Once upon a time, this role fell to movie stars and singers who, backed by powerful agencies, would endorse a certain brand or product by taking part in commercials and represent a big name fashion designer on the red carpet. Make no mistake, this is still very much the case, it’s just that these sorts of things don’t have the same WOW effect as before.

These days, what we, the new generation of bright minds and soft skills, want is a fresh outlook on things, a new take on a concept that’s maybe been established for years. Kind of like yoga. It could be anything, from extreme athletics to knitting and everything in between. The first step is finding your edge, the next is amassing followers. Then all of a sudden, BOOM, you’re in business.

But don’t take it from me! Take it from Forbes, PR Week, or even The New York Times: influencer marketing is the goose that lays golden eggs.

Anyone can become a social media influencer. Well, almost. It certainly takes a special someone to deploy this much energy into creating a personal brand, spanning several social media accounts, attracting hundreds of new followers on a daily basis and keeping existing followers happy with timely updates. I like to think that if, upon graduation, I don’t succeed in finding a job, I could always retire and become ‘instafamous’. But anyone who’s ever followed me on social media knows that’s just a delusion. I’m better off working my magic on the other side of the campaign. You can’t deny, however, that it’s the gateway to a new world of opportunities. Just look at the Kardashian family, how their social media empire has bloomed, and how Kim went from being a personal assistant to Instagram queen in such a short timespan! Others, such as Joe Wicks “The Body Coach” built their entire career from scratch on social media, using their passion to defy the rules of the game and spend their lives doing what they do best. Now, with the help of their millions of followers, companies are lining up at their doors.

A new study revealed that a stunning 84% of marketers plan on launching at least one influencer campaign this year. Companies are hurrying to jump on the bandwagon, analysing Instagram trends to find the new unofficial face of their brand, showering bloggers in expensive products in the hopes that they may deign to include them in a snap or a tweet. But it’s not just traditional social media platforms we’re talking about here, YouTube in particular has become a hotspot for vloggers, who film themselves doing anything and everything, gathering a stream of avid users who hang on toheir every word.

Influencer marketing is the new big thing in the PR world, an open door into the personal world of thousands of consumers, a way to build brand awareness by telling new stories. The collaboration between influencers and big brands hasn’t even reached its peak that it is already redefining the consumer market.  Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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