The Power of Social Media Influencers

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Influencer is the word that has been in circulation for years,

In marketing terms, the Oxford definition of an influencer is “a person with the ability to

influence potential buyers of a product or service. Usually, these accounts have a specific

aesthetic or mission statement to appeal to a certain demographic: fashion, fitness, health,

cosmetics, and art are just a few examples.

Well, if the influencers’ primary goal is to get you, the influencee, to purchase the

sponsored product, they’re going to have to keep you engaged somehow.

Influencers are not the direct cause of social media addiction and the pursuit of online

validation – the mentality that you are defined by the attention (here: likes and followers)

your actions (here: looks) receive. But they do represent a product of it, and help to foster

the mentality that someone’s voice is only as important as the number of people who hear

them.

The social media marketing industry thrives primarily off of the insecurities of online users

(here: young and impressionable) and encourages a society that values quantity

(numbers) over quality (self-worth).

Though it is not all bad, there are some positive effects of influencer culture— it gives

people a figurehead for their interests and passions, and provides a role model for a range

of different ideas and lifestyles: for example, body-positive, anti- Face tune influencers

have become more and more popular. There are culinary-oriented influencers that post

recipes of their aesthetic nutritious creations striving to educate and inspire their followers

to pursue a healthy diet (and promoting a brand of organic tofu or artisanal kale chips from

time to time).

At the end of the day, sponsored content is their means of survival. Getting a check from a

brand, be it good or bad, is how influencers are able to concentrate on creation of highquality

engaging content. Getting a day job like the rest of society is a last resort, why

would you try to enter the oversaturated labour market when you invested months (if not

years) trying to enter the even more competitive social media market?

What’s more, many young fans who follow the lives of these Instagram or Youtube starlets

religiously, get the impression that the conventional lifestyle is not for them.

Acknowledgedly, most influencers belong to Generation Z and younger millennials, a

demographic that is notoriously difficult to reach for marketers. This is because this group

of young people are both tech savvy and also place great value on forming their own

identity. This is why teens and young adults today seek to look up to role models to shape

their own behaviour. Having a role model that is relatable and easy to identify with makes it

all the more likely that teens will copy their behaviour. A study conducted by Danielle Leigh

Wagstaff, a psychology professor, says people naturally compare themselves with others

because it helps us figure out where we stand. She believes that Instagram – more so

than any other platform – confuses our social comparison radar. “With Instagram, we have

immediate access to all of these idealized images, which aren’t always an accurate

representation of the world,” Wagstaff says.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise, that many teenagers are becoming increasingly

disinterested in higher education or professional training, because so many of their role

model were able to skip those steps and are earning millions without a university degree

(or even a high school diploma). There is a negative correlation between social media use

and school performance. Yet there is a positive correlation between social media use and

depression. As social media addiction is becoming more prevalent amongst young adults,

so is the notion that ‘attractiveness’ on social media is like a ‘fast track pass’ to success

and wealth.

So are influencers really creating content to inspire us? Or do they actually affect our lives

in a negative way? Is influencers’ paradise-like life #goals ? Or is it increasing anxiety and

emptying bank accounts?